NEWCASTLE actor Emma Wood began writing plays because she was frustrated by the way that many male writers put together roles for men of all ages but kept their female characters young and pretty.
Her first two full-length plays, Water Child and Mr Bennet’s Bride, had very diverse women and girls, and were picked up with Newcastle Theatre Company casts for staging elsewhere in Australia. Water Child was presented at the 2013 Adelaide Fringe Festival, and Mr Bennet’s Bride, which had record NTC ticket sales, toured to Canberra and Sydney in 2015.
The plays have subsequently been staged by other Australian venues and Mr Bennet’s Bride had a production in Yorkshire in 2017.
Emma Wood’s new play, The Third Act, which begins its premiere season at NTC’s Lambton theatre on October 6, looks like having similar popularity. It had a public reading by a Canberra company in January as part of International Womens Voices Day, and a staged reading at the United States Women’s Theatre Festival in North Carolina in June. The readings resonated with audience members of both sexes and all ages.
The title, The Third Act, is a reference to key characters in the play who are in or approaching their elderly years. Wood sees youth as the first act, and midlife as the second act.
The main character is Sue, played by Leanne Guihot, a sharp-witted woman who has been embittered by recent events. Her long marriage has broken up, and husband, Bill (Patrick Campbell), has a new partner, Jessica (Alison Cox).
Their daughter, Lara (Cassandra Griffin), is about to be married, and understandably is full of excitement.
But Sue, understandably, isn’t looking forward to meeting her husband at the wedding.
Events before and after the wedding lead to Sue coming in contact with a diverse group of people: Denise (Tracey Gordon), a fun-loving and supportive friend to Sue, Daniel (Derek Fisher), an old flame of Sue in her high school years, and Daniel’s mother, Mary (Kathleen Warren).
The play, a comedic drama, is being directed by multi-CONDA winner Julie Black.
Leanne Guihot, as Sue, is onstage for most of the play. She says it is refreshing to see several strong female roles in a play.
“A lot of women and men will see what can happen in the last years of our lives,” she said.
The Third Act opens on October 6 at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee on October 7. It then plays Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm, until October 20, with a 2pm Saturday matinee on October 13. Tickets: $33, concession $27. Bookings: 4952 4958.
TYRAN Parke, a Newcastle born and raised actor, singer and director, who has won international acclaim, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s CONDA Summit at the SPCC Theatre, in Station Street, Waratah, on September 29, as well as delivering two 90-minute workshop sessions looking at the elements of theatre direction. The summit, which runs from 10.30am to 5pm. will also include workshops for people aged 12 to 16 on the actor’s voice by voice teacher Rachelle Schmidt Adnum, strategies for handling social media by Jen Young, acting creativity by Theo Rule, script-writing by playwright Vanessa Bates, performer movement by Georgi Laney, and technical production from page to stage by Michael Cooper. For more details: conda.com.au.
COURSES offered by the Newcastle-based TAFE Regional Institute of Performing Arts that once focused on acting and music now have classes that lead to a diploma of screen and media, with the work a mixture of physical and digital. Onlookers will have the chance to see what that training has led to at Metamorphing: Clegg 2918, a free show being staged at the Civic Playhouse nightly at 7.30pm from September 27 to 29. The show will include many short works, including plays, mini-musicals, and fictional, animated and documentary films. The show’s name is a reference to the TAFE Newcastle building that houses the screen and media training, with metamorphing meaning a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one.
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