Merrigong Productions

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Dead Man Break
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 is now 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
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 Co 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: Matt Zeremes and Silvia Colloca in The Bull, The Moon and the Coronet of Stars. Photo: Brett Boardman
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