Tag Archives: Ensemble Theatre

THE BIG TIME : OH BABY, THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IS A WILD WORLD

There’s a favourite Cat Stevens song that goes ‘Oh baby, it’s a wild world/you can’t get by just upon a smile, girl’. The song was going around in my head more than little as I watched this latest David Williamson play, THE BIG TIME.

The great man’s subject is the entertainment industry, a world which he has inhabited for nigh on fifty years. How true Williamson’s program note is when he says, ‘I know that in the industry that creates fictional drama, that real life drama can be intense.’

Williamson is an ever astute observer of relationships and  this is the engine which drives THE BIG TIME. We see the very fractured relationship of Celia and Vicki, two girls who went through NIDA together and whose careers have taken them off in very different directions.

Vicki is doing a lots of independent theatre gifs, whilst Celia has had a long standing role in a soapie, or as she calls it ‘a continuing drama series’. Whenever the girls meet for a cuppa Vicki baits Celia to leave the soapie and do some serious acting. After all, she was the star student at NIDA. Celia is a little torn, she would like to venture out but she loves the regular pay cheque she receives. Continue reading THE BIG TIME : OH BABY, THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY IS A WILD WORLD

THE NORMAN CONQUESTS : CLASSIC AYCKBOURN COMEDY

Alan Ayckbourn’s THE NORMAN CONQUESTS has nothing to do with the decisive military conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy, in the year 1006. It has everything to do with his trilogy of plays about a charming, middle-aged Lothario called Norman and his attempts to make conquests of all the women he meets.

I took the opportunity to see all three plays run consecutively over a Saturday afternoon and evening. The first play, set in the family dining room, is TABLE MANNERS. In this play Norman has set up a d weekend away with Annie, a woman who is wearying of her role looking after her cantankerous, invalid mother. There are just a few glitches – Annie is the sister of Norman’s to the point and career driven wife Ruth.  Also, Annie decides to tell Sarah, the controlling wife of her brother, Reg of the plan that has been hatched and Sarah manages to convince Annie to call the whole thing off. Add to this group of people the shy, introverted local vet Tom, and you have a very promising scenario. Sarah makes the decision to get everyone to share dinner together where some poor table manners are displayed!

The other two plays LIVING TOGETHER and ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN are played out with the same characters over the same weekend. We see what happens ‘behind the scenes’ in two other settings within the home, the living room and the front garden. Continue reading THE NORMAN CONQUESTS : CLASSIC AYCKBOURN COMEDY

ENSEMBLE THEATRE LAUNCHES 2019 SEASON

IN 2019 ENSEMBLE THEATRE WILL STAGE SIX BRILLIANT COMEDIES, THREE INTENSE DRAMAS AND A MUSICAL DECONSTRUCTION OF A LOVE AFFAIR

Mark Kilmurry, Artistic Director, Ensemble Theatre announced last night the 2019 Season which, says Kilmurry, promises to be an exceptional year with six brilliant comedies, three intense dramas and a musical. Three of the plays will be World Premieres, three Australian Premieres and there will be a return season of the sell-out play, DIPLOMACY.

“We will be joined by some of Australia’s finest actors including John Bell, Michelle Lim Davidson, Maggie Dence, Darren Gilshenan, Genevieve Lemon, Sharon Millerchip, Daniel Mitchell, Jamie Oxenbould Georgie Parker, Steve Rodgers and Ursula Yovich and directors including Kate Champion, Priscilla Jackman, Terence O’Connell, Shaun Rennie, Iain Sinclair and Elsie Edgerton-Till, all of whom will bring to life some of the best Australian and international plays for our 2019 season”,  added Mark Kilmurry. Continue reading ENSEMBLE THEATRE LAUNCHES 2019 SEASON

SHIRLEY VALENTINE @ THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE

I was a little wary before I went to see this latest show at the Ensemble. I’ve seen a few Shirley Valentine’s over the years, and like many have seen the very popular film version. I’m pleased to say that the freshness and naturalness of Sharon Millerchip’s performance made for not only a bearable but a very pleasurable night at the theatre.

Willy Russell’s well crafted mainstream play is cleverly divided into two very distinct two halves. In the first half we see the very frustrated Shirley complaining about her boring, married life in suburbia and being under the thumb of her lacklustre, rigid husband. After interval she has at least temporarily leaving behind her dull life. She is living it in Greece, and amongst other things having a brief but exciting affair with a very accomodating Greek guy called Kostas.

Mark Kilmurry’s direction is clear and to the point. Simone Romaniuk’s set and costume design are very effective. A highlight is the large ‘wallpaper’ postcard from a Greek island  which greets audiences when they take their seats after interval. Continue reading SHIRLEY VALENTINE @ THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE

2018 SANDRA BATES DIRECTOR’S AWARD RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED

Image above: MORNINGS WITH SANDRA . Part of Ensemble Theatre’s 2018 season.
Banner Image: Mark Kilmurry, Liz Arday, Felicity Nicol, Sandra Bates at the announcement

Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry recently announced the two recipients of the 2018 SANDRA BATES DIRECTOR’S AWARDS, proudly supported by the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation.

This year’s successful applicants are Liz Arday and Felicity Nicol, both emerging theatre directors with a wealth of experience directing youth and independent theatre productions both in Australia and overseas. Continue reading 2018 SANDRA BATES DIRECTOR’S AWARD RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED

2nd SANDRA BATES DIRECTOR’S AWARDS – WINNERS ANNOUNCED

 

Featured image-Carolyn Lowry, Mark Kilmurry, Francesca Savige, Sandra Bates, Shaun Rennie, John Clark.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum.

Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry recently  announced the two winners of the 2nd Sandra Bates Director’s Awards supported by the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation at a function in the theatre’s waterfront foyer.

Francesca Savige and Shaun Rennie were thrilled to be the recipients of this prestigious award.  Both will work as Assistant Director on two plays each in the Ensemble Theatre’s 2017 season. They will also direct a lunchtime play reading each as part of the theatre’s Boatshed events.

Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry said, “It was so hard to decide on this year’s winners, it was such a tough list and I’d like to congratulate everyone who applied.” Continue reading 2nd SANDRA BATES DIRECTOR’S AWARDS – WINNERS ANNOUNCED

THE GOOD DOCTOR @ THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE

Chloe-Bayliss-and-Nathan-Wilson-in-THE-GOOD-DOCTOR-photo-by-Clare-Hawley-5.jpg
Chloe-Bayliss-and-Nathan-Wilson-in-THE-GOOD-DOCTOR-production photos-by-Clare-Hawley.

A night filled with quirky characters and situations generating plenty of humour is in store for you if make your way across to see the current Ensemble show.

With THE GOOD DOCTOR, Neil Simon mines the work of Anton Chekhov and comes up with  a collection  of appealing vignettes, tinged with absurdism.

The pieces are excellent ‘vehicles’ for actors, representing good opportunities for the cast of five to show their range and flair. And with the  assist of  Bates’ astute direction, that’s just what they do.

In A Defenceless CreatureKate Raison was on fire as an uptight ‘madwoman’ harassing a conservative, frazzled banker for some money for her ailing husband. As  the gruff banker who soon loses his patience, David Lynch’s stolid manner was a great counterpoint to Raison’s bluster.

In Surgery, Nathan Wilson was wonderfully manic as an earnest dentist using some very old, large, menacing instruments and doing more damage than good to his patient.

In The Seduction, Adriano Cappelletta (who has temporarily stepped in to the main role as the narrator/Chekhov figure as well as a number of other roles at close to the last moment whilst Glenn Hazeldine recovers from a car accident)  was  suitably charismatic and creepy as a compulsive seducer of married woman,  with Chloe Bayliss equally convincing as his latest demure, coy victim.

In the more reflective Too Late For Happiness, David Lynch and Kate Raison poignantly play out a hopeful meeting between a lonely older man and woman.

The least convincing piece was The Audition  in which Chloe Bayliss plays an actress who has walked  four days from Odessa to Moscow to audition for a new play by her favourite playwright (Chekhov) and is more than a little starstruck.  The audition sees her recite passages from The Three Sisters. This piece felt a little out of place and heavy, and came across a bit flat.

The current production represents a milestone for the Company. It is the last production that Bates is directing whilst in the position of Artistic Director (for a few years now jointly with Mark Kilmurry, who takes over solo in 2016), a position she has served for thirty years. During her time, Bates has set the set bar high; theatre patrons have had the expectation  when they go to the Ensemble that they will see entertaining and often thought provoking plays that will be given worthy productions. Hopefully the high standard will continue as Kilmurry takes over full reigns.

Recommended, Sandra  Bates’ production of Neil  Simon’s THE GOOD DOCTOR opened at the Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli on Wednesday 2nd December and is playing until Sunday 17th January. The production then travels to Belrose’s Glen Street theatre where it will play for one week between the 19th to the 24th January 2016.

 

THE BOOK CLUB @ The Ensemble Theatre

Amanda Muggleton wowing audiences. Production photography by  Thomas Blunt
Amanda Muggleton wowing audiences. Production photography by Thomas Blunt

The Ensemble Theatre  currently has a big membership drive going for its resident  Book Club.  There is a great deal on offer…

For the price of a regular theatre ticket you get to see an entertainment put on that combines the talents of three very fine, talented theatre-makers.

Roger Hall is a master of the middle class social comedy, best descriptor would be New Zealand’s equivalent of David Williamson. He is the scribe responsible for the  svelte smooth THE BOOK CLUB.

The helmer is none other than Rodney Fisher one of Australia’s finest directors and the deserved winner recipient of an Order Of Australia for his services to directing and writing.  The theatre program indicates that Rodney has been adapting, polishing and honing this Roger Hall; script since he took it to the Noosa Festival way back in  2008.

Continue reading THE BOOK CLUB @ The Ensemble Theatre

Educating Rita @ The Ensemble Theatre

Professor Frank (Mark Kilmurry) isn't used to reading essays quite like the ones that Rita (Catherine McGraffin) writes
Professor Frank (Mark Kilmurry) isn’t used to reading essays quite like the ones that Rita (Catherine McGraffin) writes

Mark Kilmurrry’s production takes us deeply into this Willy Russell world and its two loveable, vulnerable, very recognisable characters who stay in our hearts long after the house lights have come back up.

We walk into the theatre to be greeted with music from the nineteen eighties, the period in which the play is set, and Anna Gardiner’s finely detailed set of an academic’s chamber.

We first meet literature tutor Frank who is on the phone to his partner to tell  her he will be home. He has to first see a student who is enrolling in the Open University program. Continue reading Educating Rita @ The Ensemble Theatre

The Anzac Project- Helping Us Remember @ The Ensemble Theatre

Inset- The Anzac Project
Inset pic- Eric Beecroft and David Terry in Dear Mum and Dad. Featured pic- Anita Hegh and David Terry. Production pics by Clare Hawley

As part of this year’s 100th anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand troops landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in an offensive against the Turkish Army during World War 1, the Ensemble Theatre  has developed and is now presenting its production, THE ANZAC PROJECT- HELPING US REMEMBER.

As we all know only too painfully, the campaign was a disastrous one. The troops were largely cannon fodder but the camaraderie, sardonic humour and bravery of the Australian and New Zealand forces launched a legend, henceforth known as the ANZACS that continues to be recognised every 25th April since 1916.

The two new works, commissioned by the Ensemble Theatre for their 2015 season, and written by experienced playwrights Geoffrey Atherton and Vanessa Bates, have many overlaps and similarities in style and content. With them being presented by the same quartet of actors playing quite similar characters, and both directed by Mark Kilmurry, using the same set, there tends to be a blurring of stories and images into one whole. Continue reading The Anzac Project- Helping Us Remember @ The Ensemble Theatre