Come and Have “A Good Look Around”

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 4, 5, 6 July 2014

something a little different ……..

An Invitation To Join Us In Some Politically Motivated Creativity

Tony Barry is a well-known Australian actor who has done us the honour of agreeing to be the Patron of the Drill Hall Theatre Company. Tony believes that Australian values, that can be simply summed up as “a fair go for all”, are being undermined by our current political situation and he is powerfully motivated to do what he can to work towards a change for the better. Tony believes that the role of the politically motivated artist is to shine a light on social issues in order to facilitate the discovery of solutions.

Along with other members of the Drill Hall Theatre Company Tony is sending out the following call to actors, performers, artists, musicians, film makers and all other creative activists:

  • Do you feel pissed off that greed and stupidity are calling the shots while being fuelled by political bastardry that results in an erosion of our values and the vandalising of the environment?
  • Do you want to join the search for alternatives through a creative collective of ideas and insights?

If you do then you might like to join us in the Drill Hall Theatre on Friday evening July 4 at 6pm and if you like what you see, then you might want to come for the ride over the next two evenings and contribute to a presentation, of sorts, on the evening of Sunday July 6. We guarantee you an experience of empowerment through play, serious play! Bring your favourite political cartoon, your concerns, ideas, wit, skills and your wisdom.

The conveners, Tony Barry, Greg Aitken and Michael Hennessy warmly welcome all serious players to become participating pranksters helping to suggest a more nourishing game to play.

We will be gathering at 6pm on Friday July 4 to workshop ideas; 5pm on Saturday July 5 to further develop those ideas; and 6pm on Sunday July 6 to review what we have come up with and where we might go from there. One of our primary goals will be to develop performance based ways to inform and empower others to express and share their political views.

The kitchen will be open and a gold coin donation towards costs would be welcome.

…. and the result.  Go to the following must see link in Echonetdaily.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream


APRIL 25, 26, 27, MAY 2,3,4 & 9,10,11, 2014

The Drill Hall Theatre Company is excited to present A Midsummer Night’s Dream, opening on the 25th April for nine performances through to 11th May.  The production is inspired by William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday.

Brimming with a cast of 25, and supported by a creative team of over a dozen (and growing), the new production is currently in rehearsal preparing to honour the Great Bard, in lavish style, on his birthday, 26th April.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a deliciously delightful romantic comedy navigating the high and lows of passionate young love, traversing spiritual and earthly realms with spiralling misunderstandings and deeply satisfying resolutions.

The DHTC’s production is set locally in Mullumbimby in the late 1960’s with the music, moratoriums and mayhem of social revolution forming the backdrop to Shakespeare’s homage to love, together with the infamously mischievous characters Puck and Bottom.

Some of the cast of “The Dream” hard at work rehearsing


Production Team:

Directors:  Dominick Reyntiens, Max Donati,  Melinda Saxe
Supervising Director:  Gregory Aitken
Choreographer/ Production Designer:  Michael Hennessy
Executive Producer:  Michael Borenstein
Producer:  Tim Winton-Brown
Costume and Set Designer:  Svea Bjornsson
Lighting Designers:  Sunita Bailey & Melinda Saxe
Digital Art and Poster Art-Work:  Ken Ford
Production Manager:  Susie Strong
Stage Manager:  Ben Morrissey


and 26 Superb Performers:

Cate Feldmann, Owen Trevor-Jones, Sam Hemphill, Mike Russo, Max Foggon, Simon Dubber, Hayley Acton, Phoebe Lines, Laurie Axtens, Chris Benaud, Danyon Saxe-Wilson, Eryn Thackray-Smith, Robin Brady, Sue Hird, Michael Lill, Kasadevi Curtis, Max Donati, Mandi Sabasio-Ong, Maureen Lill, Danni Ducanson, Ebony Webb, Tara Brady, Reuben Saxe, Susie Strong,  Ben Morrissey and Snoopy the Dog.



Arts Northern Rivers:


Byron Shire News 08/05/14

Byron Shire Echo 06/05/14



Dave Heggie in the Summerland News:


Tracey Hordern in The Northern Star (Friday May 2, 2014).

Sarah Smith in the Byron Shire Echo:


William Brener


Raise the Curtains!


Your local theatre needs you … to be entertained!

The Drill Hall Theatre Company presents a variety show style fundraiser Sunday 16 March from 5pm for one night only.

With a wide range of performers from comedy to music to short theatre skits, it promises to be sensational early evening of frivolity and family fun.

Some of the featured acts will include the Hinterland Wayfareres, Mavis and Jean Circus acts, El Psycho  and The Ghost Chickens.

The fundraiser is being staged with a strong  community effort and a wonderful volunteer spirit to raise the capital required to continue alterations and improvements to the Drill Hall Theatre’s stage in preparation for an exciting 2014 season of theatre and beyond.

Tickets available at the door.

Hot Shorts 2013

11, 12, 13 October and 18, 19, 20 October, 2013


In a change from previous years The Drill Hall Theatre Company’s “HOT SHORTS” 10-minute play competition in 2013 was judged prior to performance on the basis of how well the play had been written. The three judges were Jeni Caffin, the Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre Director and Director of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival; Lisa Walker, who is the NRWC Writer Development Manager, author of two best-selling novels, an award-winning short story writer and radio playwright; and an anonymous Australian actor who is a household name of stage and screen fame. All three are familiar with navigating their way through theatre scripts.

Jeni was delighted to be asked to head the judging panel and stated that “the ten finalists are testament, though none was needed, to the diversity and dynamism of writing for performance in our region. The styles and themes were wide ranging, but humour omnipresent. Ultimately, one clear winner emerged and the decision was unanimous.”
Drill Hall Theatre Company Artistic Director Mike Russo says, “There are some very fine plays among this year’s finalists, with six previous prize-winners represented. Rehearsals are going well and audiences will enjoy the balance between comedy, satire and tragedy and should have fun deciding which play they will vote for to decide the audience prizes.”

The 10 short plays were performed at the Drill Hall Theatre, Mullumbimby over two weekends in October 2013 – Friday 11 and 18; Saturday 12 and 19 at 8pm and Sunday 13 and 20 at 5pm in October.

The plays selected for 2013 were :

Writer                                        Paula Williams
Director                                     Paula Williams/Mike Russo
Peter Morley                              Stirling Nougher
T.V. Show Host                         Mike Russo

Writer                                        Michael Lill
Director                                     Mike Russo
Man                                           Ghofar Bourke
Woman                                     Melinda Saxe
Body                                          Hamish Wilson

Writer                                        Jan Baldwin
Director                                     Jan Baldwin
Harry                                         Colin Thornton

Writer                                        Greg Aitken
Director                                     Greg Aitken
Sal                                             Joanna Stephens
Roddy                                        Max Donati
Olivia                                          Diana Ridoutt
Choreographer/Designer           Michael Hennessy
Production Manager                  Sunita Bailey

Writer                                        Monique Lavail
Director                                     Monique Lavail
Meryl                                         Georgia Martin
Geoffrey                                    Mike Russo
Pro                                           Jo Hawkins
Sleepy                                      Georgia Berriman
Clumsy                                     Cheryl Wheatley
Hippie                                        Majida Hawkins
Tragic                                       Kathryn Sefton
Rowdy                                      Cheryl Wheatley
New Age                                   Georgia Berriman
Production Manager                 Hamish Wilson
Production Assistant                Niki

Writer                                        John Smithwick
Director                                     Peter Gough
The Bureaucrat                        Cotti Radonyi
The Applicant                           Justice Hamnett
The Hologram                           Carl Taylor
Assistant Director                    Cotti Radonyi

Writer                                        Denise Lego
Director                                     Denise Lego
Greg Mullins                              MurraySmith
Max                                           Robynn Goddard
Elly                                            Cheryl Wheatley

Writer                                        Max Strong
Director                                     Max Strong
Jack                                          Peter Henson
Sophie                                      Jacquelina Wills
Waiter                                       Casper Brace

Writer                                        Bette Guy
Director                                     Bette Guy
Barbara                                     Sharon Brodie

Writer                                        Michael Lill
Director                                     Georgia Martin
Maria                                         Cate Feldmann
Daniel                                        Greg Aitken

Artistic Director                         Mike Russo
Production Manager                 Monique Lavail
Lighting                                     Alex Benham
Sound                                        Monique Lavail
Stage Managers                        Hamish Wilson & Mike Russo
Poster                                       Marion Russo
Programme                              Georgia Martin


Most Popular Play (chosen by the audience)

THE PROMISED LAND written by Michael Lill
Directed by Georgia Martin
Performed by Cate Feldmann and Greg Aitken

VOTE COUNTING written by John Smithwick
Directed by Peter Gough, assisted by Cotti Radonyi
Performed by Cotti Radonyi, Justice Hamnett and Carl Taylor.
I LOVE ACTING written by Monique Lavail
Directed by Monique Lavail
Performed by Georgia Martin, Mike Russo, Jo Hawkins, Georgia Berriman, Cheryl Wheatley, Majida Hawkins and Kathryn Sefton.

BEST WRITTEN PLAY (judged by a Panel)

TERRA NULLIUS written by Michael Lill.

Pig Iron People

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 2013

by John Doyle

Directed by Michael Borenstein

Set on a quiet suburban street with not quite enough parking for the residents, The Pig Iron Peopleexamines two generations and the way the politics of their time have shaped them.Characterised by John Doyle’s humour, which brilliantly illuminates the hearts of his characters, The Pig Iron Peopleis a timely satire infused with profound tolerance for the foibles of humanity.Australia, 1996: The winds of change begin to blow like a gale through the nation as a new government has taken the reins. Nick’s out of step.  He’s a writer; no writer has ever lived on Liberal Street before and the residents are making sure he knows it.From now on people will have to make their own way in the world. People will no longer be rewarded for being weak. The madness is over… The people have spoken. This is what they want, this is what they voted for, and if you don’t see it like them, then you are out of step. So get used to it. In this suburban satire, John Doyle’s infectious humour takes an affable yet sublimely sharp look at an Australia we all recognise.Performance dates: May 2013

Honk if you are Jesus

by Peter Goldsworthy

Directed by Mike Russo

Three weekends from Friday September 7, 2012 – Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 5pm.

The stage adaptation of Honk If You Are Jesus was commissioned by the State Theatre Company of South Australia for the 2006 Adelaide Arts Festival, and was directed by Martin Laud Gray in conjunction with the author, noted Australian novelist, Peter Goldsworthy. Honk If You Are Jesus is a comedy about the big ethical issues around science, religion and cloning; a story weaving ambition, animal-attraction, future-shock and resurrection, and where the moralities of its characters are very, very blurry. It is a razor-sharp satire with immediacy and anarchic energy; an Australian and a global story with themes that are universal and battle-lines that are inter-cultural. In 2006 Honk If You Are Jesus won the ‘Ruby’ Award for Best New Work; The Advertiser ‘Oscart’ Award for Best Play; the ‘Curtain Call’ Award for Best Comedy; and was nominated for ‘Helpmann’ awards in two categories.

Honk If You Are Jesus is essentially the story of Mara Fox’s responses when she is inadvertently tricked into assisting with the cloning of a very famous, historical character. It is about her deeply personal journey along an uneasy ethical road, in a landscape full of inconsistencies and dilemmas and strewn with romantic temptations and apparent betrayals. It’s a serious comedy that, beneath its comic overtones, asks some important questions about our future in the ‘technological age’; who should have the right to determine it; and whether, as a species and as individuals, we still want to use our capacity to think and feel, rather than simply act by default or disengage and take the consequences.

The Drill Hall Theatre Company presented “Honk If You Are Jesus” at the Drill Hall Theatre, Mullumbimby, for three weekends from Friday September 7; directed by Mike Russo with a cast featuring Robynn Goddard, Greg Aitken, Sam Hemphill, Eva Robinson, Jasper Wilson, Jennie Hicks and Kasadevi Curtis.

Peter Goldsworthy has impressed at more than one Byron Bay Writers’ Festival by his deeply felt and beautifully expressed humanity. If you have read the novel you will want to see how well it has been adapted to the theatre and, whether you have read the book or not, you will not want to miss the chance to see a modern Australian masterpiece by one of our most noted current authors.


by Ray Moynihan, Byron Shire Echo, 18th September 2012

For lovers of theatre, the play closing this weekend at Mullumbimby’s Drill Hall is a godsend. Adapted from a best-selling novel Honk if you are Jesus this irreverent and timely production is as intelligent and engaging as it is enjoyable.

The hilarious story is set in a private Christian university on the Gold Coast, run by a bible-bashing Reverend Schultz, whose dramatic sermons are performed with panache by Greg Aitken and whose young third wife, Mary-Beth, is brought to life ably by Eva Robinson.

Traversing the minefields of science and religion, sex and fertility, the play’s narrative is intimate, fresh and surprising. As the characters seduce and beguile each other, the play exposes a religion that looks more like a shonky business, and an ethically-challenged science that looks more like a shonky religion.

While the direction and acting is solid, the blazing performance of the red-headed lead Robynn Goddard is outstanding. Playing Mara Fox, the ambitious and frank IVF professor, Goddard brings a sensual magic to the stage, reminding the audience of the intense physical power of live theatre.

Watching Goddard and her colleagues perform last Friday night, there was a palpable sense of theatre’s renaissance in the northern rivers – a local growth industry that doesn’t kill koala habitat or further poison stressed waterways, and still provides a great night out.

Director Mike Russo is also optimistic, both short and long term. He says every performance of Honk if you are Jesus is getting better, and he thinks the closing shows this weekend will be ‘really something’.

Rod Gibson – A Retrospective

11, 12, 13 May;  18, 19, 20 May 2012

and a special performance in Grafton on 27th May 2012

… a selection of plays and poetry by local playwright, poet and performer, Rod Gibson who passed away in 2011.

Directed by Michael Borenstein

Rod won the Jean Stone Poetry award, the Nicholas Shand Memorial Poetry Slam, was short listed for the Angus and Robertson National Short Play Competition and has had sixteen of his plays produced in the Northern Rivers region.

To quote fellow playwright Paula Williams :
“Rod never fails to surprise us all by exploring a totally different slant in his writings, he takes us to strange and wonderful places we have never considered going.”

Rod’s writing has been described as a swirling, evocative maelstrom of images, characters and bedevilment, a rich mix of scintillating sarcasm, reminiscence, storytelling, and ironic self-observation.

The evening was a compilation of Rod’s short plays and poetry with a bit of music, a smidgen of multimedia and a few surprises.

Directed by Michael Borenstein

Cast: Greg Aitken, Sonia Borenstein, Mike Russo, Janet Gibson, Georgia Martin and Stirling Nougher.

Including video: of Rod Gibson    … and

The Beatification of Mary McCullen

featuring Julie Tweedie, Carol Garcia & Anthony Llord.  directed by Sandesh Gibney.

Fishermen at Brunswick Heads directed by John Campbell


Stage Manager: Jill Benham                                   Sound & Video: Alex Benham

Lights: Sunita Bailey                                               Publicity: Marion Russo

Front of House: Jan Blanch


by Michael McDonald in Byron Shire Echo 13/05/2012

An affectionate tribute to a local writer

Michael McDonald

In the 80s and 90s, when I got out more, writer Rod Gibson was a familiar face at Byron Shire bars, plays and art gallery openings. Many of the plays would be his own; at many of the bars he would be performing his own poems – animated, ironic, satirical and sometimes downright silly.

Our paths crossed a little: a friendly hello, a joke or two. A ciggie in one hand, a drink in the other, the demon of schizophrenia in his head, Rod mostly inspired affection and some amazement at the delicious turns his writing could take.

He was no pushover, however. He was a stout defender of local theatre and Rod would lucidly lacerate in the letters to the editor any review of mine with which he disagreed. I suppose our minds mostly met in the pages of The Echo, where as then-editor I published his poems and reviewed his work.

And I suppose his work reminded me most of Richard O’Brien’s, the man who electrified the stage with The Rocky Horror Show. Nostalgic tributes to the past mix with cutting satire and a sense of the absurd – sometimes terrifying, sometimes playful.

So when Rod shuffled off this mortal coil last year, I was sad to hear of the untimely death at age 60 of the ‘Poet Lorikeet of the North Coast’. Writing is a tough gig to make a freelance living from but Rod gave it his best shot and was rewarded episodically on the way and with a deserving obit by Geoff Helisma in the Sydney Morning Herald.

A lot of people who knew Rod well were also saddened. Among them local theatre director Michael Borenstein, who has staged Gibson’s work over the last 25 years, including the first production of the notedThe Fine Art Of Kissing The Ground. It is only fitting that Michael is the man to bring together the tribute, Rod Gibson: A Retrospective, for the Drill Hall Theatre Company.

Michael has eschewed many of Rod’s longer, better-known plays and offered up a buffet of short plays, poems and stories. It works well. The Drill Hall actors – who on this occasion include Rod’s sister, Janet – are very strong and clear in their performances and attack each piece with enthusiasm and skill. Borenstein makes clever use of sound and video, including performances by Rod himself, and a stunning piece of acting by Julie Tweedie in The Beatification Of Mary McCullen.

The night is an exuberant expression of Rod’s unique insight into the vicissitudes and joys of life. Unlike some local theatre over the years, it is also of a refreshingly bearable length. Fans of Rod will renew their friendship with the man and his work. Those new to his work, and/or poultry lovers, cannot fail to be charmed by his ‘Ghost Chickens’.