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Welcome to Wollongong’s Home of the Performing Arts

Merrigong Productions

As well as presenting the work of other companies, Merrigong produces full-scale productions in-house for presentation in our theatre subscription season and for touring to other venues.

Much of our work is commissioned and developed here at Merrigong, but we also collaborate with other companies in the creation of exciting contemporary theatre.

Current Productions

Dear Diary

A MERRIGONGX production

By Kay Proudlove

Dear Diary is a new musical work from Kay Proudlove. Kay is a South Coast performer, writer and composer who has toured worldwide with her live shows, and worked on various music, theatre and dramatic arts projects. Kay’s new work takes us on a journey through her teenage diaries through a collection of intimate and vulnerable stories and songs. From first kisses, girl power, spice world, and Elijah Wood fan fiction to lost gigs, found memories and frayed friendships, Dear Diary takes us on a hilarious and often painful journey back through our teenage years, delving into the pressures and expectations of growing up.

With wry humour and confessional stories, Dear Diary asks us to look at what we hold onto in our lives and when it’s the right time to let them go, if ever. Dear Diary was produced with support from Merrigong Theatre Company’s Artist Development Program, with narrative support from dramaturg Phil Spencer (The Smallest Hour) and direction from Merrigong’s Artistic Development Manager Leland Kean.

The inspiration for Dear Diary came from moving house and stumbling across the journals of my teenage years. The entries were heart-breaking, funny and vulnerable, which to me is a winning combination when it comes to writing songs and making art. – Kay Proudlove.

National Tour Dates

Past Productions

Something That Happened

By The Strangeways Ensemble

Premiere season: 15 – 23 Sep 2023

After their genre-bending hit Trash Talk, this is the latest hilarious and thought-provoking work from The Strangeways Ensemble, Merrigong’s permanent company of neuro-diverse professional actors.

An international film company is undertaking a global scouting mission to cast a new musical film version of John Steinbeck’s classic tale, Of Mice and Men, and the audition notice has found its way to The Strangeways Ensemble in Wollongong. This could be their big break, a chance to hit the big time, and for their dreams to come true!

Set in the rehearsal room, the Ensemble undertake their audition prep with individual research, self-tapes and throwbacks to the Golden Age of Hollywood. But Steinbeck’s themes of friendship, dreams and our place in the universe are put to the test when it becomes clear that this opportunity is not as hopeful as it first appears.

Inspired by the history of representation of people with disability in film, Something that Happened is a funny and imaginative exploration of the quest for fame and inclusion.

Director and Devisor: Anne-Louise Rentell
Composer and Musical Director: Daryl Wallis
Designer: Katja Handt
Assistant Director: Steven Wilson-Alexander
Support Worker: Marion Maclean
Cast and Devisors: Malcolm Allison, Ethan Arnold, Jordan Bowater, Ethan Green, Rachel Head, Phillip Prentice, Christian Tagliaferro
Photo: by Jeremy Park

Shakespeare in the Garden – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

By William Shakespeare

Premiere season: 9 – 26 Nov 2023

Directed by Leland Kean (As Luck Would Have It, Lost Boys), this brand new production brings together some of the country’s finest actors and designers with a stellar cast of musicians and artists from across the Illawarra to create a unique, joy-filled and enchanting theatrical experience. Whether you’re a Shakespeare devotee or newbie, this delightful event is not-to-be-missed. 

Rescheduled from our 2022 Season, proving the course of true love never did run smooth, and neither did organising an outdoor event during a La Niña summer!

Director: Leland Kean
Costume Designer: Katja Handt
Lighting Designer: Peter Rubie
Associate Director: Danielle King
Photo by Children of the Revolution

A Practical Guide to Self Defence

Two men jumping and doing karate moves.

A Merrigong Theatre Company and Riverside’s National Theatre of Parramatta production

By Hung-Yen Yang

A Practical Guide to Self Defence is a witty and action-packed account of growing up Asian in ‘80s Australia. Part play, part instructional guide, it is sprinkled with practical demonstrations, like how to trip and how to fall as we hurtle towards our existential contradiction–defeating the beast within.

Wollongong-born Australian-Chinese playwright Hung-Yen Yang deftly blends creative storytelling, martial arts and multimedia, as he takes us on a time-travelling journey with his younger self to witness his unlikely transformation from pacifist, asthmatic geek to brutal fighting machine.

Cast includes: Andy Trieu
Photo by: Paul Henderson-Kelly

As Luck Would Have It

A man wearing a tuxedo stands with lightning in the background.

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

By Drew Fairley

As Luck Would Have It begins as a piece of stand-up comedy observing the clash between land logic and cruise ship logic, but slides into an absurdist story of life and death, as one man navigates a perilous psychological journey accompanied only by the moon, an endless ocean, and his own demons.

On a mild day in March, a broken showman steps aboard a luxury cruise ship. For work. Just a little gig to pay the bills, maybe decompress a little, dust off his Hawaiian shirts, cuddle a few martinis, that kind of thing. The next day, a worldwide pandemic is declared. The ship is exiled into the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nothing but empty ballrooms for him to crack his jokes in. Trapped on the empty liner, he longs to escape, but the ocean has other plans…

Director: Leland Kean
Production Designer: Katja Handt
Composer: Drew Fairley
Musical Director: Daryl Wallis
Cast includes: Drew Fairley
Photo by: Paul Henderson-Kelly





The Sirens' Return

A Merrigong Theatre Company & The Histrionic Happenings co-production

By Anne-Louise Rentell, Barbara Nicholson, Ali Jane Smith and Daryl Wallis

Performed against the glorious backdrop of Port Kembla beach, The Sirens’ Return is a moving and evocative new music theatre work that reflects the spirit of place from the perspective of the women who embody it.

Drawing on oral histories collected from women living across different eras of the steel town, as well as First Nations and western mermaid mythology, The Sirens’ Return honours the diversity of women’s experiences through the emotional power of song.

Director: Anne-Louise Rentell
Musical Director: Daryl Wallis
Video Designer: Laura Turner
Costume Designer: Katja Handt
Costume Making: Judy Tanner, Katja Handt
Lighting Designer: Travis Kecek
Choreographic Consultant: Emma Saunders
Makeup Consultant: Yvette van Schie
Stage Manager: Tessa Parsons
Cast: Alice Ansara, Matilda Brown, Marlene Cummins, Billie Rose Prichard, Di Smith, Kerrie Sweeney
Band: Michael Galeazzi, Mike Quigley
Photo by: Jeremy Park



Trash Talk

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with The Disability Trust

By The Strangeways Ensemble

Set in a fictional workplace — the recycling depot of an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) — Trash Talk draws inspiration from the real-life 2018 review of award wages for people working in such commercial businesses, and the personal impact that it had on members of the cast.

With a hugely entertaining blend of humour, physical theatre and video projection, Trash Talk is framed within the hyper-reality of a professional wrestling tournament. With its gladiatorial approach to human rights and our universal desire for respect and dignity, the show reaffirms the right to work as fundamental to human existence.

Director and Devisor: Anne-Louise Rentell
Devisors/Performers: Malcolm Allison, Ethan Arnold, Jordan Bowater, Ethan Green, Rachel Head, Phillip Prentice, Christian Tagliaferro
Set & Costumer Designer: Katja Handt
Video Media Designer: Sean Bacon
Lighting Designer: Taryn Brown
Composer and Sound Designer: Daryl Wallis
Wrestling Choreographer: Ben Coles
Support Worker: Marion Maclean
Photos by Dida Sundet


The Surfer and the Mermaid

A Merrigong Theatre Company and Bleached Arts production

By Tim Baker. Images by Ted Grambeau.

The feel-good stage adaptation of Tim Baker’s gorgeous children’s book follows the tale of a young surfer on a magical underwater journey. Captured by a mermaid, the boy is led to the depths of the ocean to meet her marine friends – the whales.

Written by renowned Australian surf writer Tim Baker, and featuring stunning images by Ted Grambeau, this fun, elevating show will inspire young audiences to see themselves as empowered advocates for marine conservation. Kids of all ages will recognise how their actions impact the ocean, and what they can do to inspire change in others.

Director: Leland Kean
Set and Costume Designer: Katja Handt
Video Media Designer: Mic Gruchy
Lighting Designer: Taryn Brown
Composer and Sound Designer: Daryl Wallis
Dramaturg: Melinda Collie-Holmes
Associate Producer: Annie Clapton
Stage Manager: Morag Mirankar
Vision Operator:
Andrew Varga
Adam Booth and Lucy Heffernan

Lost Boys

Lost Boys Productions Merrigong Theatre Company

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

By Lachlan Philpott

Premiere Season: 23 May – 2 June 2018

Silence is not redemption.

Exploring a shocking chapter in our recent history, Lost Boys is a fierce and compelling new play by award-winning Australian playwright Lachlan Philpott (Silent Disco, The Trouble with Harry), commissioned and developed by Merrigong.

Cy and Robert Murphy are teenagers living a life of sun and saltwater, but as the sun sets, a malevolent culture of homophobia and violence surfaces, with consequences that ripple across generations.

Inspired by real events and told through the eyes of three generations of the Murphy family, Lost Boys rips into a dark part of our male-dominated culture, asking how perpetrators of violent crimes live with their unspeakable pasts.

Commemorating lives lost, this deeply affecting and potent new work forces us to examine secrets held for decades, and prejudices still held today. Bearing witness to our times, this is vital and unflinching work from a compelling voice in Australian theatre. It’s a story that needs to be told.

Director: Leland Kean
Designer: Katja Handt
AV Design: Mic Gruchy
Lighting Designer: Jasmine Rizk
Sound Designer: Daryl Wallis
Dramaturg: Jane FitzGerald

The Outside Man

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with the Disability Trust

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

Landscape with Monsters

Landscape with Monsters Merrigong Theatre Productions

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with Circa

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


Letters to Lindy

Letters to Lindy Merrigong Theatre Company

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with Canberra Theatre Company

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 Sri Lankan Tamil Asylum Seeker's Story


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

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

The Man Who Dreamt the Stars 

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with The Disability Trust

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

(Image: Phillip Prentice in The Man Who Dreamt the Stars. Photo: Paul Jones)

Dead Man Brake

Dead Man Brake Merrigong Theatre Company Productions

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

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

The Bull, the Moon and the Coronet of Stars

Bull Moon Coronet Stars Merrigong Theatre Productions

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

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, its clever, sexy, funny and uplifting. – The Australian

**** (4-stars) Badhams 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

Charcoal Creek

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

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

(Image: Olivia Beardsley and Ed Wightman in Charcoal Creek. Photo: Heidrun Lohr)

The Table of Knowledge

A version 1.0 and Merrigong Theatre Company co-production

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

The Q Brother's Funk it up About Nothin'

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

Coproduced with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Richard Jordan

Premiere season: 2012

A fresh urban take on a story as old skool as love itself, and complete with a live DJ, B-boys and girls, MCs and divas, Funk It Up About Nothin’ is more than a rom-com street part with bangin’ bass. It’s an outrageous “hip-hoptation” based on the Bard’s classic comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Whether you’re looking for a great night of hip hop or a new way to think about Shakespeare, Funk It Up About Nothin’ delivers an intense, high energy story like no other.

Creator/Director: GQ & JQ
Scenic Designer: Brian Sidney Bembridge
Costume Designer: Debbie Baer
Lighting Designer: Toby Knyvet
Sound Design: James Savage
Wig & Makeup Design: Melissa Veal
Cast: Jillian Burfete, Jackson Doran, Postell Pringle, GQ, JQ, Ericka Ratcliff and Adrienne Sanchez.

The Dapto Chaser

The Dapto Chaser

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

By Mary Rachel Brown

Premiere season: 12  22 May 2011

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

Death in Bowengabbie

Death in Bowen Gabbie

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

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

4 Plays About Wollongong


A Merrigong Theatre Company production

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

Thieves Like Us

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

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

Valley Song

A Merrigong Theatre Company production

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

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

Coming Up…