Chasing the Whale gets the Soapbox treatment ..............
MOVING away from the classics, Soapbox Theatre turns its hand to a different kind of challenge with a reworking of Chasing the Whale at The Arts Centre Gold Coast.
The play, which opens tonight, is being staged by Soapbox as part of its program as artist in residence at the arts centre and marks a departure from its usual main stage productions – including Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew and Louis Nowra’s Australian classic Cosi.
Chasing the Whale writer Matthew Ryan, from Brisbane, has rewritten the show for the small, independent company and will be in the audience to see what they’ve done with it.
‘‘This is a story about the pressure to succeed, set in a city on the ocean – who could understand that better than the Gold Coast?’’ he says.
Directed by Soapbox co-founder Jessica Westhead, Chasing the Whale, originally titled The Dance of Jeremiah, stars Stephen Hirst, Sarah Kennedy, Garth Ledwidge, James Odenbreit and Kim Stewart.
Westhead admits the work is the biggest challenge she has undertaken.
‘‘It’s an original, new work for the Gold Coast – it’s not something known at all,’’ she says of the play.
‘‘It’s scripted drama, but a lighthearted drama that’s got comedy all through it.’’
Westhead says the greatest challenge will be encouraging audiences to take a risk and try something different.
‘‘For us at Soapbox, it’s a challenge. We’ve usually done classic pieces or original works we’ve written ourselves, so we’re trying to uphold the beauty of Matt Ryan’s work. He’s so hot right now.
‘‘Hopefully Matt will be happy with what we’ve done.’’
Chasing the Whale’s story follows Jerry, who is still reeling from the death of his boss and mentor when he is thrust into a race to be promoted as the head of a major advertising company.
All his dreams come true, but as he competes for the top job, strange things begin to happen – office desks chase him, self-help tapes talk to him and umbrellas rain from the sky.
Haunted by his own advertising campaigns, he struggles to keep his perfect world together.
Soapbox is the first company to stage this revised version of the play, which bagged several awards after its initial season at La Boite, in Brisbane, in 2005. Ryan’s other works include The Harbinger, Boy Girl Wall and Kelly, the premiere season of which was recently staged in Brisbane by The Queensland Theatre Company.
With the support of the arts centre, Westhead says Soapbox hopes to apply for funding to take Chasing the Whale on the road.
Chasing the Whale plays The Arts Centre Gold Coast tonight, Sunday, Tuesday, and November 10 at 7.30pm, and November 11 at 5pm. Tickets are $22. Visit theartscentregc.com.au for details.
The cast of Soapbox’s staging of Chasing the Whale.