The Open Couple

by Dario Fo & Franca Rame
Directed by Mike Russo

SEPTEMBER 24 – OCTOBER 10, 2010

At the beginning of this hilarious farce about sexual mores, a wife is threatening suicide because of her husband’s infidelity. He can’t understand why he can’t have both wife and mistress. He gets an inkling when his wife takes a lover. When the couple is open on both sides, craftily notes the wife, “It becomes very drafty.” “A breezy delight, an entertainment with too much on its mind to be considered lightweight and too much wit to be mistaken for a polemic. It’s brazen, outlandish and pointed comedy.”– Marin Independent Journal.

Uncle Vanya

by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Mike Russo

25 June – 11 July 2010

Based on Chekhov’s own earlier work The Wood DemonUncle Vanya focuses on a professor and his much younger second wife visiting the rural homestead which provides them with their comfortable living. While Uncle Vanya has a rather uncertain and unhappy ending when it comes to the future of the characters, The Wood Demon was more directly positive. Uncle Vanya is considered by critics to be a reworking of The Wood Demon inspired by Chekhov’s visit to a prison island and witnessing life there.

In Uncle Vanya, Vanya is the brother of the professor’s late first wife and also the estate manager. He and the local doctor both fall hard for the professor’s wife, Yelena. Sonya, the professor’s daughter from his first marriage, is also helping to run the estate, and seeing her stepmother’s beauty and charm reminds her how unattractive she herself is and how unrequited her adoration for the doctor is, especially with Yelena on the scene.

The professor shows little affection for his family (brother-in-law, daughter, and mother) who have been running the estate; he instead announces plans to sell it off and move with Yelena to Finland because he cannot afford his lifestyle in Russia any longer. Tensions overflow and, in a fit of rage, Vanya attempts to shoot his brother-in-law, but fails. Later, Sonya and her grandmother discover Vanya has stolen morphine from the doctor and is suicidal, but they make him return the drugs and his plan is foiled.

The professor and Yelena are leaving the estate and all will continue as it has for years, ultimately. The play closes with the estate-living family going about their tasks, and Vanya complaining about how they must work so hard to support others and how little they have and how joyless life is for them. Sonya reminds him that they will rest when they die and receive rewards in heaven.

Chatroom

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.

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