Youth the­atre comes of age with mod­ern clas­sic

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAYCONTENTS -

SEVEN ta­lented young per­form­ers star in Youth The­atre Project pro­duc­tion All My Friends Are Leav­ing Bris­bane, which opens at The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast tonight.

Pre­sented in black­box the­atre The Space in part­ner­ship with the Queens­land The­atre Com­pany, the plays stars Estelle Snow­ball, Steven Gill, Christina Fern, Re­becca Roscoe, Daniel Chlonta, Court­ney Am­men­hauser and Sa­muel Hughes un­der the di­rec­tion of Hugh Parker.

Lo­cal lad Gill, 19, makes his stage de­but as Michael in the comedic play about twenty-some­things in Bris­bane try­ing to fig­ure out whether they want to do ‘‘the over­seas thing’’ or stay in their home­town – and what they risk by choos­ing ei­ther op­tion.

Un­der­go­ing a cri­sis of con­fi­dence, Michael’s best friend Anthea (Roscoe) is over­worked, has no boyfriend, is strug­gling at work and all her friends are leav­ing Bris­bane.

‘‘I live in Molen­d­i­nar on the Gold Coast and com­mute to UQ (in Bris­bane) for study and I think that’s what re­ally con­nects me to the story,’’ Gill says.

‘‘The schools men­tioned in the play are the ones my uni friends at­tended, so I’ve been able to hash out with them ex­actly what life is like up there. I’ve asked them why in Year 12 they de­cided to stay in Bris­bane while their friends de­cided to leave, and that has re­ally helped de­velop my char­ac­ter.

‘‘When I fin­ished school I had peo­ple ask me why I wanted to study in Bris­bane in­stead of the Coast, so I’ve also been able to draw on those feel­ings and ex­pe­ri­ences of ‘want­ing a change’. When I read through the script, I re­alised just how much Michael was like me. He’s re­ally an­a­lyt­i­cal and works through things lo­gis­ti­cally in his head and I’m study­ing sci­ence and was able to con­nect with him on that level.

‘‘I had been look­ing to au­di­tion for a lo­cal pro­duc­tion for a while, but a lot of the re­cent shows on the Coast have been mu­si­cals and I can’t sing, or they’ve been re­ally se­ri­ous such as Shakespeare. So when this com­edy came up, I thought it was just the light-hearted, funny piece I wanted to au­di­tion for.’’

De­spite its young cast (aged 19 to 23), Parker says Bris­bane writer Stephen Vagg’s play ap­peals to peo­ple of all ages.

‘‘In the com­pressed time we had at re­hearsals we wanted to pick out and piece to­gether as many con­nect­ing points as pos­si­ble,’’ he says.

‘‘We dis­cussed lov­ing and hat­ing where you’re from and what that means in re­la­tion to all as­pects of life – from the peo­ple and places you know to the choices you make.’’

Parker, who trained at the Royal Academy of Dra­matic Art, Lon­don, ar­rived in Aus­tralia in 2006.

His per­for­mance cred­its in­clude The Pitch, Kelly, Frac­tions, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Clean House, Be­trayal and 25 Down for the Queens­land The­atre Com­pany and TV roles in Sea Pa­trol, Doc­tors, Jonathan Creek, Wild West, The Of­fice and Peo­ple Like Us.

He says he was im­pressed with the stan­dard of the young per­form­ers who au­di­tioned for the project.

‘‘The cal­i­bre of many who au­di­tioned was so high – it was a plea­sure to be con­fronted with such a tough de­ci­sion of who to cast,’’ he says.

‘‘I think we’re see­ing some rare tal­ent be­ing given the op­por­tu­nity to go through the pro­fes­sional process.

‘‘We’re treat­ing them as if they’ve stepped into a pro­fes­sional show. I want them to knuckle down and work hard and want to grow as per­form­ers.

‘‘We’ve got a split in the cast with four peo­ple from Bris­bane and three from the Coast, with all of them study­ing at col­lege or uni in Bris­bane.

‘‘Like any good piece of work, we are hop­ing to put an im­age in the mind of au­di­ence mem­bers about hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with a par­tic­u­lar city.

‘‘It’s about claim­ing our own choices and life and say­ing ‘This is where I’m at’.’’

All My Friends Are Leav­ing Bris­bane plays The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast tonight un­til Satur­day at 7.30pm.

– JES­SICA HUX­LEY

Bris­bane di­rec­tor Hugh Parker

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