Friday, Saturday & Sunday 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 October 2017
A joint international production with Everyman Theatre Company from Cardiff, Wales.
A MUST READ REVIEW IN AUSTRALIAN STAGE
and a response to the Review from playwright, Patricia Cornelius
Seemingly embarking upon their ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, Scott, Bowers, Wilson, Oates and Evans grapple with life’s big questions, pitting their wits against the ‘dying of the light’. Or do they? As they trudge across an ‘alien landscape’, questions emerge, not only about the nature of their ‘fragile world’ but also about who they really are.
The seeds for this ambitious production were sown in Mullumbimby in March 2015.
We are now seeing the culmination of this challenging but rewarding process of collaboration between two theatre companies located in very different communities on opposite sides of the globe. Together they remind us that the issues grappled with by Patricia Cornelius’ award-winning play are universal and ones that bind us all.
CHAPTER ARTS CENTRE
CANTON, CARDIFF CF5 1QE
5-9 SEPTEMBER 2017
MULLUMBIMBY DRILL HALL THEATRE
2 JUBILEE AVENUE, MULLUMBIMBY 2482
13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 OCTOBER 2017
REVIEW – ‘Do Not Go Gentle’: Everyman Theatre and The Drill Hall. Friday 8th September at Chapter Arts Centre.
Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius’s award-winning ‘Do Not Go Gentle’ depicts five elderly people nearing the end of the journey that is their lives. The characters embody different aspects of Dylan Thomas’s famous villanelle, from which the play’s title derives: wise men, good men, wild men, and grave men. Moreover, the characters’ journey, which takes place in a nursing home, interweaves original dialogue with Robert Scott’s diary accounts of his ill-fated Antarctic expedition. Each role is rich in characterisation, and Cornelius gives us an insight into pasts that they can only vaguely recall, such as problematic marriages, loving husbands no longer recognised by their wives, and the devastating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder induced by the Vietnam War, whilst simultaneously exploring the effects of dementia and the politics of care. The script is heart-warming, shocking, thought-provoking, and hilarious, seemingly discordant ingredients that result in a very fine play, if cast and directed right.
Fortunately, this production was indeed very well cast and directed. Ray Thomas and his actors and crew have embarked on one of the most ambitious undertakings in Everyman Theatre Company’s rich history, involving members from Wales and Australia. The joint cast – Cate Feldmann, Susan Gallagher, Owen Trevor-Jones, Max Donati, and Greg Aitken from The Drill Hall in Mullumbimby, and Geraint Dixon, Rosy Greenwood, Peter Harding-Roberts, and Arnold Phillips, from Everyman, Cardiff – worked perfectly, with not a weak link to be found. The on-stage relationships between them were eminently believable, and the actors tickled funny bones and pulled at heartstrings in almost equal measure.
Geraint Dixon played Scott, who narrated the expedition throughout with dulcet Welsh tones, while offering audience members the odd glimpse of a man behind the historical figure, nearing his end and lamenting his failures. Peter Harding-Roberts was hilarious as the bombastic Evans, very much representing a wild man who, for much of the play, raged against the dying light, which made his ending all the more poignant. Rosy Greenwood played the occasionally scandalous role of Wilson; she was engaging and warm throughout, and stole hearts with ease. Cate Feldman’s performance as Bowers was particularly touching, for she refused to acknowledge that she had lost her way and could no longer recognise her husband, played by Arnold Phillips, who also gave a beautifully understated performance. No less poignant were the interpretations of Owen Trevor-Jones as Oates and Max Donati as his son, Peter, victims of war and suicide. The confrontation between these two was especially effective.
Moreover, director Thomas and professional designer Ruth Stringer made great use of the depth and breadth of the Chapter Arts Centre stage, with white drapes, resembling all at once bedclothes, icy crevices, and the Terra Nova sails, helping to convey at various points a hostile landscape and a laundry room. Additionally, the judicious use of lighting, primarily white, with hints of blue, reflected both the metaphorical Antarctic expedition and the nursing home interior. The stage also resembled a raised ice-field platform, with suggestions of white tiled flooring and other features added to it, such as ski tracks. The actors remained in character throughout proceedings, often sitting stage right, drinking cups of tea, or preparing for the next leg of their journey.
The play’s conclusion felt tragic in many respects, as Wilson’s husband (played by Greg Aitken) turned up and we realised that the relationship between her and Scott was not as it seemed. With only Scott left on stage, he was given a choice of walking into a palely shining light and exiting stage left, or raging against that dying light. Needless to say, he exited stage right, and thus concluded a wonderful piece of ambitious theatre. The production’s Cardiff journey is now over, but it will resume at the Memo Arts Centre, Barry, on 16th September, and The Savoy, Tonyrefail, 29th September.
The International Cast in Mullumbimby
The International Cast in Cardiff
Keep up with Greg Aitkin’s musings from Cardiff here:
Waiting in the Wings 1
Waiting in the Wings 2
Waiting in the Wings 3
Waiting in the Wings 4
Waiting in the Wings 5
Waiting in the Wings 6 and final from Cardiff
Members of the Australian Cast In Rehearsal – July 2017 ……………………..
PHOTOS BY JOHN McCORMICK
Members of the Welsh Cast In Rehearsal – July 2017 ……………………..
“Despite winning the NSW Premier’s Award, Do Not Go Gentle has yet to be staged in Sydney.” – Elissa Blake.
While it’s not quite Sydney, Do Not Go Gentle is about to be performed by an International Cast in Mullumbimby, NSW, following on from its joint performance with The Everyman Theatre Company in Cardiff, Wales
In Rehearsal – May 2017 ……………………..
Drill Hall in an International Co-Production
The Drill Hall Theatre Company and The Everyman Theatre, Cardiff, Wales, are mounting a co-production of the Australian play Do Not Go Gentle by Patricia Cornelius. The Welsh director, Ray Thomas is currently in rehearsal in Mullumbimby with the local cast. By late August eight of the Drill Hall company will join their colleagues in Cardiff for the final rehearsals before the opening at The Everyman Theatre on 5 September. The combined company of nine actors (five from the Drill Hall Theatre Company and four from Everyman) will then travel to Mullumbimby for six performances from 13 October.
Michael Borenstein the President of the Drill Hall Theatre Company, said, “ This co-production between two amateur companies from different hemispheres is an amazing achievement. We never imagined that the Drill Hall would become an international touring theatre company.”
The play uses the metaphor of Robert Falcon Scott’s long and ultimately fatal trek to reach the South Pole in 1912 in telling the story of five elderly characters, Scott, Wilson, Oates, Evans and Bowers. The play’s theme is about expanding the experience of the ageing process.
According to Michael Borenstein, “Gentle has won numerous awards but has never been produced by a major state theatre company. The Drill Hall is committed to producing works from the canon of Australian plays. I am hoping that this international co-production of a significant Australian play will be the first of many that the Drill Hall will produce and tour.”
PHOTOS BY JOHN McCORMICK
Members of the Australian Rehearsal Cast
To perform the play “Do Not Go Gentle …” by the Australian playwright Patricia Cornelius at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff and The Drill Hall Theatre, Mullumbimby, New South Wales, with a cast of 60 – 80 year olds drawn jointly from the members of Everyman Theatre, Cardiff, and The Drill Hall Theatre Company, Mullumbimby, New South Wales in 2017.
The news that Robert Falcon Scott and four of his companions – Henry Bowers, Edgar Evans, Lawrence Oates and Edward Wilson – had perished on their return from the South Pole made the headlines in February 1913. Using Scott’s journey to the Antarctic as a metaphor for the final leg of the journey into death that we must all make, Patricia Cornelius wrote the play “Do Not Go Gentle …” in 2005. It won the Patrick White Playwright’s Award, the R. F. Ross Trust Award in NSW and Victoria, and the 2011 Major AWGIE and AWGIF Play Awards. It has a cast of 9 (3 females and 6 males) aged 55+. Scott’s expedition was much more than a journey to the South Pole. His letters, diary and last message extend our sense of what it is to be human. At the point of defeat and dissolution he articulated a sense of human possibility that transcends both. Powerfully paralleling the passage of the explorers across an alien landscape, the funny, angry, defiant, bewildered characters in Cornelius’s play grapple with life’s big questions as they pit their wits against the “dying of the light”. Julian Meyrick, director and theatre historian, wrote: “The play never preaches. It has many things to say about sex, politics, regret, food, ballroom dancing and having fun. But it is not in the business of summing up or thematising the ultimate object of its attention: the value of life in the face of the inevitability of death. There is not a sliver of sentimentality or false hope in the drama. Rather there is deep and deft intention in the mood of the piece, in something arising between and beyond its beautiful, poetic words. And in this intention there is a genuine response to life’s sufferings and challenges and a silent prompt: to never be so afraid of death we forget to live”.
For more information click here: DO NOT GO GENTLE
Following is a very interesting article about Patricia Cornelius, the author of Do Not Go Gentle written by Wesley Enoch for the Guardian on 3rd January 2017.
And a small Youtube clip on our first look at the play in Mullumbimby.