Merrigong Productions

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with Circa

Landscape with Monsters

By Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa ensemble

Landscape With Monsters is a breathtakingly original circus-theatre creation from internationally acclaimed company Circa.

Yaron Lifschitz and the fearless Circa ensemble have forged a new type of circus. There are no traditional circus acts, no trapezes and not a red nose in sight. Instead, from a world of simplewooden boxes, a hard floor and tall metal structures, the meeting between ourselves and our environment is thrillingly brought to life.

Landscape with Monsters tells the story of post-industrial cities now in decay. Metal and wooden objects intersect with fast-paced acrobatics. This intensely physical new show is at once humorous and brutal, savage and beautiful.

Set to a soundtrack that mixes popular song and electronic music, Landscape withMonsters is bursting with the thrills that are the hallmarks of Circa performances. Emotions and bodes intertwine until we discover the monsters in the landscape just might be ourselves...

Director: Yaron Lifschitz

Associate Director: Alice Lee Holland

Sounds designer: Daryl Wallis'

Lighting and AV Design: Toby Knyvett

Set and Circus Apparatus Design: Jason Organ

Costume Design: Libby McDonnell

 


 

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with the Disability Trust

The Outside Man

By Anne-Louise Rentell, Daryl Wallis and the ensemble

Premiere season: 15 - 25 March 2017

LOVE. We all want it. We all need it. We all like to sing about it.

 Venture down a dark, rain-drenched alley, through an unmarked doorway to the depths of your subconscious, and step into cabaret night at The Sweet Wrapper Club.

Here, love doesn’t promise a happy ending. There’s no walking hand-in-hand on a beach in the glow of a glorious sunset. This is a world of dream vampires, lonely catbirds, bearded clowns, and hibernating bears. It is a song sung with a mouthful of fairy floss.

Featuring an ensemble of performers, some of whom are perceived to have intellectual disabilities, The Outside Man is a new Merrigong work with a unique artistic vision resulting from a long-term partnership with The Disability Trust.

An anarchic performance in which our learnt experience of romantic love is hijacked and reimagined, The Outside Man is a brave, new and outrageously original musical theatre work, from the team that brought you The Man Who Dreamt the Stars in 2014. Featuring live musicians including Daryl Wallis (Dead Man Brake, Landscape with Monsters), The Outside Man is an entertaining, imaginative and touching exploration of our ability to love.

Director: Anne-Lousie Rentell

Composer/Musical Director: Daryl Wallis

Musicians: Tim Oxley, Jodi Phillis

Set & Costume Designer: Katja Handt

Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson

Dramaturg: Caleb Lewis

 


 

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with Canberra Theatre Company

Letters to Lindy

By Alana Valentine

Premiere season: 26 July - 6 August 2016

Filled with warmth, humour and heartbreak, this new work by award-winning playwright Alana Valentine (Dead Man Brake, Head Full of Love, Parramatta Girls) explores our fascination with one of 20th Century Australia’s most iconic figures.

The story captivated a nation. A mother accused of murdering her child, her claim – that the baby was taken by a dingo – denied and discredited by zealous police and a flawed legal system. The media circus, the rumours, the mob mentality, and a nation’s prejudices laid bare.

Over three decades, from baby Azaria’s death to the final coroner’s report, the public wrote more than 20,000 letters to Lindy Chamberlain. From sympathy to abuse, marriage proposals to death threats, letters from children, and letters from those who have lost a child, these letters traverse the gamut of human response to Lindy’s story.

Letters to Lindy draws on this correspondence, as well as extensive interviews with Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton herself, to create an enthralling, moving, and long overdue dialogue between Lindy and the nation.

Touching and authentic, Letters to Lindy provides a deep insight into one of the most compelling legal and human dramas of our times. It paints a singular portrait of the
heartbreak, wisdom and resilience of a grieving mother and her 30 year fight for justice.

Director: Darren Yap 

Designer: James Browne

Co-Composers: Max Lambert, Roger Lock

Lighting Designer:Toby Knyvett

Cast:Jeanette Cronin, Glenn Hazeldine, Phillip Hinton, Jane Phegan

 


 

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

A Sri Lankan Tamil Asylum Seeker's Story as Performed by Australian Actors Under the Guidance of a Sinhalese Director
By Dhananjaya Karunarathne

Premiere season: 16 – 26 September 2015

Wollongong-based playwright and director Dhananjaya Karunarathne is widely recognised in his homeland of Sri Lanka for creating satirical and controversial works that address contemporary issues. In A Sri Lankan Tamil Asylum Seeker’s Story as Performed by Australian Actors Under the Guidance of a Sinhalese Director you are invited on a journey to examine questions of authorship and ownership, prejudice and authenticity. 

A Tamil asylum seeker arrives in Australia on an illegal boat, is held at a detention centre, and meets a refugee studies student who wants to record his story for his own purposes. What results is an astonishingly theatrical, politically alive, funny and searing study in political correctness. 

Merrigong is delighted to produce this bold and fresh new theatre piece that was originally developed and presented by the playwright himself through our independent artist program, Studio Sessions. The work now takes flight in a full-scale Merrigong production as Dhananjaya joins forces with director and dramaturg David Williams, a key artist behind the version 1.0 and Merrigong smash-hit co-production, The Table of Knowledge.

Recommended for ages 13+. Contains strong language and adult themes.

"Bold, funny, important and wise. I urge anyone interested in fresh storytelling to see it" – Tim Roseman, Playwriting Australia

Directors: Dhananjaya Karunarathne, David Williams
Dramaturg: David Williams
Set & Costume Designer: Imogen Ross
Lighting Designer: Matt Cox
Sound Designer: Rob Hughes
Stage Manager: Michelle McKenzie
Cast: Adam Booth, Anthony Gooley
V/O Artist: Phillip Hinton


A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with The Disability Trust

The Man Who Dreamt the Stars 
Devised by the cast and creative team

Premiere season: 14 - 22 February 2014

Featuring an ensemble of performers, some of whom are perceived to have intellectual disabilities, The Man Who Dreamt the Stars is a new Merrigong work with a unique artistic vision resulting from our long-term partnership with The Disability Trust.

A young man. A classic villain. A protective mother. A mysterious astronaut. Devised by the cast and creative team, The Man Who Dreamt the Stars takes us on an unexpected journey, from the inner-most workings of the mind, to the imagined reaches of outer space.

Absurd and darkly comic, The Man Who Dreamt the Stars takes as its starting point the incredible true story of a young man's experiences with a recurring brain tumour. Combining surreal characters, stunning interactive video projection, pop-culture references and quirky songs, The Man Who Dreamt the Stars is a delightful and surprising new theatre work that reminds us that in the face of life's challenges, there is great beauty to be found in the power of the imagination. 

Recommended for ages 12+. Contains some adult themes.

"This theatrical experiment involving people of 'mixed abilities' gets much better than mixed results: the work unfurls with dignity." - Daily Review, Crikey

"Visually stunning." - Australian Stage

Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Lighting & Video Designer: Toby Knyvett
Set & Costume Designer: Imogen Ross
Sound Designer: Daryl Wallis
Movement Director: Lee Pemberton
Cast: Alicia Battestini, Drayton Morley, Malcolm Allison, Phillip Prentice 


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Dead Man Brake
By Alana Valentine

Premiere season: 28 August - 8 September 2013

At 6.24am on Friday 31st January 2003, a State Rail train left Sydney on the journey south to Wollongong. It never reached its destination. In a bush cutting just south of Waterfall station it left the tracks, the front car dragging the trailing carriages, claiming seven lives and injuring dozens more in what became known as the Waterfall train disaster. A Special Commission of Inquiry concluded that earlier safety warnings regarding the 'deadman's emergency brake' had been ignored.

Using the words of survivors, as well as family members of victims, emergency service workers, and even the Inquiry transcript itself, Dead Man Brake sensitively explores the tragic circumstances of that day. 

Commemorating 10 years since the accident, Merrigong Theatre Company was honoured to present this poignant and poetic new Australian work by award-winning playwright Alana Valentine. Dead Man Brake is ultimately an uplifting and powerful examination of human resilience in the face of tragedy.

Recommended for ages 15+. Contains strong language and adult themes.  Also contains haze, smoke and flashing lights.

"...a really excellent work of verbatim theatre" - Australian Stage

"Valentine has fashioned a respectful yet shattering and harrowing play that is gripping and compelling, wonderfully performed." - ArtsHub

Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Lighting Designer: Toby Knyvett
Costume Designer: Imogen Ross
Set Designer: Anne-Louise Rentell
Sound Designer: Daryl Wallis
Cast: Alicia Battestini, Nicholas Brown, Gerard Carroll, Phillip Hinton, Drayton Morley, Katrina Retallick, Sabryna Te'o 


A Merrigong Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company and Hothouse Theatre co-production

The Bull, the Moon and the Coronet of Stars
By Van Badham

Premiere season: 19 - 27 April 2013

Inspired by the Greek myths of Ariadne, Theseus and Dionysis, The Bull, the Moon and the Coronet of Stars is a whimsical, sensual and humorous love story about a young woman who learns to survive a broken heart. 

As the sexual tension between Marion and Michael mounts, the museum is haunted by strange stirrings, and rumours of a monster abound. One night, alone together amongst the ancient relics, the lights go out and there is nothing but an unravelling ball of string to protect them from the creature in the darkness. 

Marion flees and finds herself at a seaside resort, where she is infuriated by Mark, a wayward sommelier with an eye for the ladies, determined to disrupt her lessons and her life... 

This delightfully debaucherous fairytale from award-winning playwright Van Badham (Camarilla, The Sameness of the Days - 4 Plays About Wollongong) and director Lee Lewis (The School For Wives, Twelfth Night) will lure you into an orgy of antiquity, cupcakes and beachside frivolity.

Recommended for ages 15+.

"A love letter to language, mythology and love itself, it's clever, sexy, funny and uplifting." - The Australian

**** (4-stars) "Badham's text is breathtaking - poetic, beautiful, captivating." - TimeOut Sydney

"...an ambitious, clever, potent piece of writing that is both sexy and funny, with a beautiful, romantic ending." - The Sunday Telegraph 

Director: Lee Lewis 
Designer: Anna Tregloan 
Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson 
Composer and Sound Designer: Steve Francis
Cast: Silvia Colloca and Matt Zeremes


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Charcoal Creek
By Marcel Dorney

Premiere season: 5 - 16 June 2012

Charcoal Creek
is a chilling, moving and ultimately revealing story about the extraordinary power of ignorance and fear.

Newcomers to Charcoal Creek, Edward and Charlotte are newlyweds and recently arrived from England. Brigid, the wife of local dairy farmer Tom is having nightmares - premonitions of something terrible - and wants her new neighbours gone. Each of their lives will be irrevocably changed by the events of one terrifying night...

In the late 19th century, the Illawarra played host to one of the first incidents of violent resistance by white Australians to new arrivals at a place called Charcoal Creek, now known as Unanderra. Inspired by this historical footnote, this new work by one of Australia's most exciting playwrights examines how a community can descend into prejudice and hatred, and how ordinary people can allow terrible things to happen.

Commissioned by Merrigong Theatre Company, Charcoal Creek draws on the forces of class, Darwinism, and the Industrial Revolution to explore the impact of change and development on the forging of the Australian psyche.

Recommended for ages 14+.

**** (4-stars) "Compelling... rewarding theatre... hits the mark..." - Arts Hub

Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Costume Designer: Imogen Ross
Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson
Sound Designer: Daryl Wallis
Set Designer: Anne-Louise Rentell
Stage Manager: Clare Spillman
Production Manager: Jack Horton
Set Realisation & Construction: James Clarke, Charli Dugdale, Jack Horton, Alicia Thomas
Cast: Olivia Beardsley, Johnny Carr, Catherine Moore, Ed Wightman


A version 1.0 and Merrigong Theatre Company co-production 

The Table of Knowledge


Premiere season: 30 August- 20 September 2011
Return season: 10 
- 14 April 2012

Sex, lies and dirty deals.

On December 5th 2006, officers of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) raided the administration building of Wollongong City Council, forcing staff to vacate their posts, sealing a floor of the building and leaving hours later with boxes of documents, files, and computer hard drives. This was the first indication the community of Wollongong had of 'Operation Atlas', the ICAC investigation into allegations of corruption involving local developers, Councillors and former staff of Wollongong City Council.

The resulting scandal had reverberations far beyond expectations and culminated in the sacking of the entire Council. ICAC exposed sexual obsessions, envelopes full of cash, and a group of powerful men that met regularly outside a local kebab shop, at a plastic table they called 'the table of knowledge'.

In response to these events, Merrigong Theatre Company approached acclaimed theatre makers version 1.0 to co-produce an original theatre work. With the script almost entirely provided by Inquiry transcripts, The Table of Knowledge is a frank, theatrically innovative, and at times moving account of the Inquiry and its fallout.

"Often wildly funny... this is vital, engaging theatre that serves an invaluable function in helping to purge the canker." - The Sydney Morning Herald

"Scandalously funny" - The Sunday Telegraph

Devisers/Performers: Arky Michael, Jane Phegan, Yana Taylor, Kym Vercoe, and David Williams with Alan Flower
Video Artist: Sean Bacon
Sound Artist: Gail Priest
Lighting Designer: Frank Mainoo


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

The Dapto Chaser
By Mary Rachel Brown

Premiere season: 12 - 22 May

Errol Sinclair is a dog-racing legend and a Dapto racetrack dinosaur. His eldest son Cess is a chip off the old block and dynamite with the dogs. Jimmy, Errol's youngest, has never taken to the track despite working there as driver of the rabbit lure.

It seems that the Sinclairs have been and always will be, dog men. But when a death in the family brings the brothers face to face with grief and a desperate financial problem they need to solve quickly, racing identity Arnold Denny comes snapping at their heels with an offer that's hard to ignore. Suddenly the lure becomes not just a job but an opportunity for them both to finally take a real gamble on life.

A Merrigong Theatre Company commission, The Dapto Chaser by award-winning playwright Mary Rachel Brown is a bold comedy filled with all the heartache and humour of family politics. A local story set in the colourful world of dog racing, the play gets under the skin of one of our town's iconic subcultures, pitting blood ties against the lure of the track.

Writer: Mary Rachel Brown
Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Designer: Imogen Ross
Lighting Designer: Toby Knyvett
Cast: Noel Hodda, Drayton Morley, Don Reid and Doug Scroope


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Death in Bowengabbie
By Caleb Lewis

Premiere season: 12 - 23 November 2010

Bowengabbie... a town where everyone gets the seniors discount, Meals On Wheels is a boom industry and the only thing that brings anyone back is a funeral.

Oscar swore he'd never return but when Aunt Jeannie dies, not even he can refuse. From fairground fun days and burials at sea through to a scale recreation of the Normandy Landings, Bowengabbie is very good at funerals. And when Oscar meets Abby, with his own wedding just weeks away, his whole world turns on its head as funerals suddenly become fun, and life (and death) something to celebrate.

Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Designer: Talitha Klevjer
Lighting Designer: Toby Knyvett
Musician/Composer: Rose Ertler
Cast: Kirk Page, Robert Jago, Octavia Barron-Martin


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

4 Plays About Wollongong

Premiere season: 6 - 18 November 2009

A roller coaster ride through Wollongong's rich history and colourful social fabric, with four original stories covering everything from miners' strikes to dog racing, and drug dealing to dodgy development deals.

In 2008, to celebrate IPAC's 20th year, Merrigong Theatre Company commissioned four playwrights, Van Badham, Simon Luckhurst (both local), Mary Rachel Brown and Marcel Dorney, to each write a short play with the very simple premise - tell us a story about Wollongong.

With all four plays performed each night, this production promises to hold a mirror up to our city in all its raw beauty and human complexity.

Writers: Van Badham, Mary Rachel Brown, Marcel Dorney and Simon Luckhurst
Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Designer: Simon Greer
Lighting Designer: Toby Knyvett


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Thieves Like Us
By Marcel Dorney

Premiere season: 5 - 13 May 2008

Their only crime was to make it better.

Playwright Marcel Dorney takes us back to the 1980s and into the lives of two young friends, Shannon and Robert, who are about to find themselves in very serious trouble. Someone has cracked the U.S. Government security program and its creator has travelled 18,000 miles to find out why. This gripping new Australian thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Merrigong Theatre Company is fast developing a reputation for compelling stories that fuse the personal with the political. Thieves Like Us continues the theme, asking whether the immense power and reach of global corporations can ever be a match for personal integrity and the strength of friendship.

Director: Jamie Dawson
Designer: David Thomas
Sound Designers: Danielle Kirby and Lloyd Barrett
Lighting Designer: Toby Knyvett
Cast: Ann Burbrook, Leon Cain, Laurie Foell and Amy Usherwood


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Valley Song
By Athol Fugard

Premiere season: 10 - 15 September 2007

From one of the twentieth century's legendary theatre-makers comes this beautiful play about how our hopes, dreams and fears shape us.

In a tiny village, in a valley in the South African countryside, live seventeen year old Veronica and her aging grandfather, Buks. Her strong desire to leave the valley and follow her dreams is matched only by his determination to protect her and to resist the inevitable changes enveloping them.

A newcomer to the village further threatens the simple life they have lived for so long.

This play from Athol Fugard, South Africa's greatest playwright, resonates not only as a touchingly personal tale but as a metaphor for the emerging South Africa.

Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Designer: Simon Greer
Composer: Daryl Wallis
Lighting Designer: Martin Kinnane
Cast: Phillip Hinton and Alexandria Steffensen


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Camarilla
By Van Badham 

Australian premiere season: 1 
- 4 November 2006

A bomb goes off in London's West End and high profile, left-wing academic Maggie Tanner's daughter Rebekah is among the injured. In the aftermath of the bombings, the certainties of Maggie's world begin to crumble; her Labour party husband supports the government's anti-terroritst clampdowns and her own trenchant views are called into question. Tensions reach crisis point when Maggie's conservative stepson returns from the US and Rebekah takes a shine to him.

Written after 9/11 but before the London bombings in 2005, Camarilla was a message of foreboding when it premiered at the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Director: Kate Gaul
Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson
Composer: Daryl Wallis
Designer: Tobhiyah Feller
Scenic Artists: Eliza McLean, Clare Willington
Set Finishing: Elaine Campbell
Wardrobe Coordinator: Megan Van Hoek
Cast: Lorna Lesley, Tim Allen, Chris Beckey, Alexandria Steffensen

Image 1: Phillip Prentice in The Man Who Dreamt the Stars. Photo: Paul Jones
Image 2: Olivia Beardsley and Ed Wightman in Charcoal Creek. Photo: Heidrun Lohr
Image 3: Arky Michael and Kym Vercoe in The Table of Knowledge. Photo: Heidrun Lohr