Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine

Written by Willy Russell

Directed by Robyn Blackwell

October 2017

In celebration of its 30th Anniversary… Shirley Valentine is a heart-warming one-woman play by Willy Russell (Educating Rita) which centres on an ordinary, middle-aged English housewife. In the evening, Shirley prepares dinner and talks to the wall, reflecting on her life, her mundane marriage and un-pursued dreams. When unexpected adventure calls, Shirley seizes the moment and goes to Greece. There she encounters a totally different lifestyle and discovers her own independence. This multi-award-winning comedy was originally performed by Pauline Collins who later recreated her role in an Oscar-nominated film. Valley Artists’ production stars Cath Patterson as Shirley and was be directed by Robyn Blackwell.
Shirley Valentine opened at Wollombi General Store’s Harp of Erin Theatre on Friday October 20th and ran for a further 6 shows, including matinee.

The Business

The Business 

Based on Vassa Zheleznova By Maxim Gorky Written

Written by Jonathan Gavin

March/April 2017

Originally commissioned and presented by Sydney’s Belvoir St. Theatre in 2011, Valley Artists’ The Business was directed by Micaela Elphick.

The Business is a tough social satire which explores such issues as generational conflict, sibling rivalry, materialism and excess, entitlement, desire and betrayal with razor-sharp intelligence and dark humour.Karen Toohey returned to Valley Artists to play matriarch Van, her sons Ron and Simon were played by Rod Sinnamon and Dain Southwell and Karen Jones played daughter Anna. PJ Wallis and VA newcomer Sophie Cook played daughters-in-law Natalie and Jennifer, Peter Firminger played business manager Michael and another VA newcomer Chris Dibb took on the role of Van’s brother-in-law and aggrieved business partner Gary.

Deathtrap

 DEATHTRAP

Written by Ira Levin

Directed by Karen Jones

November 2016

The line between truth and deception is not a straight one – and none more crooked than in Ira Levin’s Deathtrap. First staged in 1978, Deathtrap holds the record as the longest running comedy thriller on Broadway. This ingenious take on crime has constantly been in production since its first run and it’s obvious why. It’s funny and frightening and has enough surprises and comedy to keep audiences intrigued to the very end.

A play about a play within a play, Deathtrap followed the desperate last grasp for fame of ageing playwright Sidney Bruhl, who happens to be struggling with chronic writer’s block. Valley Artists’ truly stellar cast was headed by Alan Glover in the title role of Sidney. When a former student, Clifford Anderson (Rod Sinnamon), sends him a script of his first play, a masterful whodunit called Deathtrap, a rollercoaster chain of events ensues. Those swept up included Sidney’s wife (VA newcomer Nicky West), his lawyer (Bob Philippe) and a mysterious Dutch psychic (Robyn Blackwell). Brilliantly conceived and masterfully constructed, with plot twists galore, Deathtrap was a very funny thriller.

Karen Jones, no stranger to VA audiences, made her directorial debut with Deathtrap, ably supported by an experienced backstage crew including Stage Manager Rosie Glover and Tech Director Andrew Jones. With a brilliant set design by Giles Tester and his creative team, the production proved to be a blockbuster.

Star Alan Glover has been a professional stand-up comedian since 1983 and has taken his humour around Australia and the world. He acts and writes and five years ago pioneered humour therapy in Aged Care with the Arts Health Institute. Alan is no stranger to this brilliant play, having undertaken the role of the younger playwright Clifford some 33 years ago. Alan says “Ira Levin is the cleverest of writers. Deathtrap rushes ahead of itself then doubles back over and over again. It thoroughly explores the thriller genre but with such a sense of humour the audience will be laughing and screaming in equal measure.”

The God Of Carnage

The God of Carnage

Written by Yazmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton

Directed by Bob Philippe

May/June 2016

The God of Carnage came to Bob’s attention in 2015 after reading Art, which is another of Yasmina Reza’s very successful and funny plays. “I count myself very fortunate to have had the support of Valley Artists throughout the years in presenting my previous productions and indeed on this occasion to tackle this very modern comedy. This play asks the question : What happens when two sets of modern, civilised, middle-class parents meet up to resolve the unruly behaviour of their children? Most of us like to think that it would be a calm and rational debate between grown-ups about how to support the kids in learning to behave in a civilised manner. We are living in Australia according to the principles of Western society after all, and at the core of our sense of security is our need of order in our lives. However, lurking since the dawn of time, at our emotional edges, is the god of carnage.”

The God Of Carnage was artfully conceived and executed masterfully with performances from Micaela Elphick, Craig Howe Karen Jones and Darren Philip.

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The Family Frying Pan

The Family Frying Pan

Written by Bryce Courtenay

Adapted for stage by Janine Oliver

Directed by Janine Oliver

November 2015

A Recipe for Drama

Take 1 large frying pan, 9 colourful characters, assorted children, live music, the great outdoors, courage, determination, imagination and trust. Light a fire, combine ingredients, stir gently with love and serve with a good story.

Bryce Courtenay is renowned as one of Australia’s all-time best-selling authors and a great storyteller. Before he passed away in November 2012, Valley Artists’ Janine Oliver was thrilled to receive his blessing to adapt his novel The Family Frying Pan as a play.

Four years in the making, and with serious health problems intervening, Janine’s adaptation premiered on November 2015 at The Village Green, Laguna, with Janine (The Wind in the Willows and A Streetcar Named Desire) directing.

Chillingly relevant today, The Family Frying Pan centres on a group of people fleeing their homeland in search of a better future. It is the early 20th century and Russia is in the grip of social upheaval and early revolutionary agitation. Famine is widespread, ethnic minorities, especially the Jews, are being subjected to systematic persecution and those perceived as disloyal to the state face banishment to Siberia and certain death. Set against this unforgiving backdrop, the refugees’ journey out of Russia is an incredible tale of courage, determination and humour against all odds.

The Family Frying Pan is based on a true story about a member of Courtenay’s family who survived the pogroms against Russian Jews, fleeing her village carrying a frying pan on her back. On her long trek to safety she gathered together an eclectic group of fellow outcasts. “Mrs Moses” eventually found her way to Australia and settled in Bondi.

Performances of The Family Frying Pan took place under the stars. The audience traveled with the refugees as they gathered around their evening camp fire, making music and telling their stories about what had brought them on their desperate journey. Although they come from all walks of life and social classes, these travellers had been thrown together with one goal in mind: freedom and peace of mind. Their stories of human frailty, hardship and survival were by turn tragic, romantic, hopeful, fanciful, sometimes comical, yet they were always inspirational.

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Butterfly Dandy

Butterfly Dandy

Written by Alana Valentine

Directed by Dain Southwell

May 2015

Starring real-life husband and wife team Darren Philip and Fiona Migan-Philip.

In 1905 Australian woman have just secured the right to vote, but the only thing on Mirabella’s mind is securing a spot with the King of Tivoli, Mr Harry Rickards. Rickards is traveling the country searching for new acts for his internationally renowned Tivoli Circuit.
With the help of her accompanist Tommy Darren Philip, Mirabella works to develop a new act with some surprising and quite unexpected results.

Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!

Can’t Pay Won’t Pay

Written by Dario Fo and Franca Rame

Directed by Bob Philippe.

November 2014

With performances by Karen Jones as Antonia, Ross Fletcher as Giovanni, Karen Toohey as Margherita, Peter Firminger as Luigi and Tim Williams as Sergeant, Inspector, Undertaker, Old Man.

Can’t pay? Won’t pay! first came to Bob’s attention in the late 70’s. “Id been keen to visit the play since then. So on this, the twelfth occasion of my directing for Valley Artists, I’ve been excited to give it a go and I’ve not been disappointed. This is indeed a very fun piece of theatre. Dario Fo is one of world’s most performed living playwrights. He is a very clever and funny satirist and his most popular plays Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Mistero Buffo and this play are performed regularly around the world. During the turbulent 60/70’s in Italy, Fo and his wife/partner Franca Rame, founded the theatrical collective La Comune and were writing and performing satires for workers in factories, car parks and workers’ clubs. Their works were seen by thousands and not only became an important political intervention in Italy but went on to receive international acclaim. Fo is at once extremely traditional and extremely modern. He is traditional in that his theatrical roots lie in the Renaissance Commedia dell’arte with its stereotypical comic characters. Many of you will know of this wonderful period of grass roots travelling theatre and may even remember Valley Artists presentation some years ago. Witness women appalled by the outrageous rise in the cost of food. Sound familiar? The setting of Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! is Milan but the problems are all too desperately familiar to us in Australia in 2014. This, however, is no gloomy political agitation. Fo-faced farce wears a broad smile and proceeds at breathtaking speed.”

Educating Rita

Educating Rita

Written by Willy Russell

Directed by Micaela Elphick

May 2014

In May 2014, Valley Artists Inc.  presented Educating Rita, the wonderful Willy Russell stage comedy.

Familiar to many through the Oscar-nominated movie starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters, Educating Rita is set in the 80’s in a northern English university and traces the powerful story of a woman’s journey of learning. Rita is a young hairdresser who seeks escape from the routine of her job and social life, enrolling in an Open University English Lit course. Her tutor is Frank Bryant, a jaded, middle-aged academic with a fondness for the bottle. Frank has misgivings about Rita’s ability to adapt to academia but is won over by her refreshing enthusiasm and brash sincerity. Over the course of a year these two beautifully drawn characters have a profound effect on one another.

Valley Artists used Russell’s revised play script which many may not have seen and audiences can expect the high production values for which the company is so well regarded. Robyn Blackwell, no stranger to the VA stage herself, made her directorial debut with Educating Rita. Cath Patterson, who sings regularly with the Central Coast’s women’s harmony group Coastal a Cappella, made her acting debut as Rita. Frank Bryant is played by VA stalwart, Alan Glover. Alan is a renowned Hunter Valley stand-up comedian who works in television, film and radio and is a regular on the national festival circuit.

Across the Water

Across The Water

Written by Noel Hodda

Directed by Bob Philippe.

November 2013

                  With performances from Bob Philippe as Ken (Older), Karen Jones as Sissy (Ken’s Daughter), Darren Philip as Glen (Ken’s Son),                          Dain Southwell as Ken (Younger) and Sally Jackson as Cath (Ken’s Wife).

The fact that this play is having its World Premiere in Laguna and in the more than capable hands of Bob Philippe is a double thrill for me. When we were younger (some time ago!) and starting down the path of theatre, Bob and I would often talk into the night about what the future might. hold for us. Well, now that future is here and we are on a theatrical journey together again and I couldn’t be happier. I hope you enjoy spending some time with the characters of this play. They mean a lot to me and I thank Bob and the cast for taking them into their hearts as well. Thanks also to Valley Artists for supporting Australian plays.

Noel Hodda, Playwright.

The Golden Ass

 

The Golden Ass

Written and directed by Craig Howe

April 2013

Valley Artists is committed to encouraging and fostering the active involvement of youth in theatre, in both acting and backstage roles. Over the years, local children have experienced the magic of theatre and delighted audiences with shows such as The Wind in the WillowsThe Ugly Duckling and The Twits.

This tradition continued in 2013 as Valley Artists proudly presents The Golden Ass, an original play written by our very own Craig Howe. Craig is well known to many in the Valley through his teaching role at Laguna Public School and for his acting roles in such VA productions as Money and Friendsand A Streetcar Named Desire.

Craig will be made his directorial debut with The Golden Ass, a play which is loosely based on a Grimm’s fairy tale. Just about everyone is familiar with the timeless stories of the ‘Brothers Grimm’. These 19th century German brothers together collected and rewrote European folk tales, popularising such stories as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White. The brothers’ original fables were meant to teach lessons and morals and often employed scare tactics to do so. Many of the tales have been rewritten and adapted, as it was felt they were too dark, even gruesome. Nonetheless, they continue to be popular around the world to this day.

The Golden Ass is altogether a lighter-hearted tale. Set in a small rural village, the cast of characters includes a farmer of modest means, his kindly wife and three clever daughters, a greedy innkeeper, a duplicitous goat and a donkey with a very special gift.

The Golden Ass promises to be a great night of entertainment with something for everyone: kids of all ages will enjoy a rollicking story liberally dosed with humour, magical tricks, singing and dancing. In common with all good fairy tales, there Performances are some valuable lessons for us along the way!

 

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