by Edna Welsh
Directed by Michael Borenstein
21st – 30th May 2010
Drill Hall Theatre president, Michael Borenstein’s production of Chatroom, a play by Enda Walsh, is currently showing at the Drill Hall Theatre Mullumbimby. Borenstein, a director/actor, and community welfare worker for over forty years, was looking for a play that would return youth theatre to Mullumbimby — a play that would resonate with young audiences because they could identify with current youth issues such as cyberspace relationships and online communication. Chatroom achieves this objective.
Borenstein managed to secure the talents of six young actors to flesh out the characters and provide some incite into adolescent online-lives.
Fletcher Gooley plays William, an opinionated manipulator in Chatroom. Fletcher brings much experience to the play, having performed in the theatrical productions: Blood Wedding, Small Poppies, Beowulf and the film Beauty and the Beast.
Reuben Haig plays Jack, the down-to-earth voice-of-reason, ignored and ridiculed in adolescent cyberspace. Reuben enjoys Drama at school and says he tries not to take life too seriously. It’s hard to believe Chatroom is Reuben’s first foray into acting on stage.
Marnie Johnston plays opinionated and manipulative Eva, a pivotal character in Chatroom’s dramatic tension. Marnie brings a wealth of experience to the role of Eva. Marnie graduated from Brent Street’s Talent Development High, plus featured in short films and commercials. She also did work experience on ‘Home and Away’, which she says was the best learning experience of her life.
Savannah Mitchell plays Emily, a vulnerable survivor of anorexia. Savannah leads a full and active life, filling her days with school plus teaching and participating in dance. Apart from taking Drama at school, Savannah a natural actress, says this is her first time on stage.
Henry Gooley plays depressed Jim. Henry has embraced Drama at school and has performed in many school productions. Henry is also an aspiring writer; having written two short stories and is currently writing a novel. He’s also a Dungeon Master of the online game ‘Dungeons and Dragons’.
Akasha Ahrens brings a touching poignancy to the role of Laura. This is hardly surprising considering she’s been treading the boards since she was a five-year-old at Angela Mitchell’s ‘Theatre Theatre’ in Lismore. Akasha featured in Shearwater School’s ‘Wearable Arts’ and Grease. She also shone in Goonengerry School’s short films from 2002-2006.
Michael Borenstein was a teenager himself when he discovered a life-long passion for theatre. Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, was the play that launched him into the creative world of theatre. Only nineteen, with directing/acting blood surging through his veins, he went on a theatrical journey spanning from the 1960s to the present day.
Always community-minded, and as a youth worker, Borenstein was instrumental in engendering a love of theatre to many Byron Shire youth. As well as founding Federal Theatre Company in the late 1970s, Borenstein also ran a youth drama group to accommodate the needs of local children. Tarzan & the Chickens and The Pizza Pie Show, being excellent examples of youth performances.
When asked what plays and playwrights exerted the most influence over him, Borenstein cited Sam Shepherd’s early works especially Angel City, Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound and After Magritte, local playwright Rod Gibson’s The Fine Art of Kissing the Ground, and more recently the works of Melbourne playwright Stephen Sewell. In fact Borenstein is considering a Sewell play for his next Drill Hall production — one of many plays to be performed in the Drill Hall’s current 2010 line-up, which includes: Uncle Vanya and Honour.