Introducing the extraordinary actors featuring in Andy Payne’s Pillow Talk, opening 16 August.
by Lynda French
As you know at Beaumaris Theatre we love a bit of drama and fun, so mid-June this year we turned our Set Build into a bit of a theatre adventure for our committee. Our objective was to run through a fire drill and practice our emergency evacuation policy.
We had a 100% attendance by our Committee Members and also our OH&S Subcommittee Members. Fred Pezzimenti was our chief warden and executed the role with much aplomb. The drill ran like clockwork and all involved played their parts well. The theatre was exited swiftly and emergency services called. Unfortunately, there may have been a couple of people left behind, but we managed to save them, so a good result overall.
All in all a great exercise which gave all involved insight into the responsibilities of the fire warden and the many influencing factors that can occur when an emergency situation arises. Needless to say, our patrons can be assured they are in safe hands when attending events at Beaumaris Theatre Inc. We celebrated our success with a gourmet luncheon provided by our First Lady, Jenni Osburn.
Safe Theatres for Independents.
On Thursday 20th June our Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator attended a seminar and workshop at Hamer Hall. The workshop was initiated and organised by the Arts Well Being Collective, www.artswellbeingcollective.com.au, Theatre Network Australia www.tna.org.au and Safe Theatres Australia. www.safetheatresaustralia.com
Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, the Arts Wellbeing Collective is an Arts Centre Melbourne initiative, which through networks, supports better mental health and wellbeing for performing arts workers. Theatre Network Australia is the leading industry organisation for performing arts. It has been working with the leaders of Safe Theatres Australia to run forums which are designed in a response to sector need.
The workshop focused on how independents and smaller companies might deal with potential scenarios involving workplace bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment, especially in the absence of formal workplace policies and resources. Discussions on the day centred on how these mentioned organisations are designing policy and protocol to support theatre people in regard to the above topics. There were several scenarios involving group discussion for participants
Of several speakers, one in particular, Kim Tran, from Live Performance Australia www.liveperfomrance.com.au gave great insight into policy development for OH&S and equal opportunity. Some interesting information was shared re committee/board liability and discussion about current resources. Juanita Pope from Justice Connect also described the work of her organisation which is a social justice charity with many shareable resources regarding volunteers and intellectual property. www.NPlaw.org.au.
It was an interesting and informative forum and supports Beaumaris Theatre’s objective to provide ongoing support, a safe environment and up to date policies for its members and patrons.
Beaumaris Theatre is delighted to be presenting a brand new play, Pillow Talk as the third show in its 2019 Season.
Pillow Talk is a tragic comedy about life, love and the promises we make.
Recently we caught up with writer and director Andy Payne and talk about the play. Here is what was said.
Q. What’s Pillow Talk?
Pillow Talk is a new play. It’s a love story with a rather dark twist. It is a window into the lives of a happily married couple and their family, who promised each everlasting love. Set in the UK, it references the Voluntary Assisted Dying laws which have recently been introduced in Victoria. One of the characters is a Victorian member of parliament.
Q. What are the themes?
History is littered with the sacrifices of lovers but would you do just anything for someone that you love? I wrote Pillow Talk to be entertaining. It is a window into the lives of a happily married couple and their family, who promised each everlasting love. But can we really be asked to keep the promises made in the first flushes of romance? Pillow Talk is both funny and thought provoking. It is a conversation everybody needs to have.
Q. Who are the main characters?
The plays follows a couple, Henrietta and Harry, we see them over a period of thirty years from when they were first in love to the dilemma that faces them in retirement. We also meet their adult children Cassie and Justin.
Q. Where did the characters come from?
I knew I wanted to write something for a strong, older, female lead. Henrietta is an amalgam of a number of the strong women I have worked with, one in particular. The other characters emerged from the central dilemma.
Q. What kind of play is it?
Labels are difficult. Pillow Talk is a serious comedy. The comedy comes from the dialogue and relationships between the family members, the tragedy comes from everyday life.
Q. When did you write it?
Pillow Talk began life in 2018 as a creative writing exercise. I had been studying and teaching drama and scriptwriting with the University of the Third Age in Melbourne, U3A. The themes of the play were well received by those who read the early drafts and I realised it was resonating with the audience.
Q. What’s U3A?
U3A is a wonderful international organisation that provides courses and activities for senior members of the community. There are branches in Bayside, Kingston and in the city.
Q. What is the connection with the 1950s movie of the same name?
Absolutely nothing! The name is the only connection and I hope nobody comes hoping to see Rock Hudson and Doris Day. But anyone who does come to see the play will see why it absolutely had to be called Pillow Talk.
Q. You have said that the play is ‘set against the background of the Assisted Dying Legislation in Victoria - what do you mean by this?
I don’t want to spoil the drama for anyone by giving away too much. The character Justin, Henrietta’s son is a Victorian member of parliament working on an imaginary second draft of the legislation. He flies to England to offer support to his mother. Pillow Talk is essentially a love story.
Q. Have you written plays before?
I have spent most of my career writing and developing plays with acting students mainly in schools but it is only recently that I have started to write independently. I enjoy writing musicals and even in this straight play, I couldn’t resist writing one song.
Q. What do you want for your audience?
Firstly, I want people to be entertained, but I want them to be entertained in a way that will make them think and leave the theatre talking about the issues.
Q. And finally who is the play for?
That’s easy, anyone who has been in love.
Now that I am older the story of Company is no longer a series of events that one man journeys through. Rather, I view it as a surreal retrospective of moments from Bobby’s life and perspective. He knows that society dictates that by the age of 35 a man should be married with children, however, when he reflects on the lives of his friends, he fails to see the joy and security that a Hallmark Card would call the ‘ideal’. He craves the idea of love, but cannot commit to it - and to his friends, his time is running out. I am almost 35 now, not married (although for different reasons) and having grown up in a small country town, I fully grasp the pressure Bobby faces due to societies expectations.
In the land of theatre, people often refer to PSB (Post Show Blues). These hit you post a show funnily enough. I find that they are always proportionate to the amount of enjoyment you have had from any given show. And they have hit hard after this one. While, I will miss the time spent at Beaumaris with the whole team, the laughs, the picnics and the of course the wine, I have left with very fond memories, on the road and some amazing new connections.
I’ve always had a passion for musical theatre – way back when I was just nine years old, I was part of the Children’s Choir for a production of Joseph. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since!
I always loved working and learning from many different Musical Directors when I was involved in shows. Watching and listening to how they pieced every harmony together with the cast and brought the orchestra together to really bring the show to life. As time went on, I realised I wasn’t the world’s best actor or dancer, but I was alright at the music side of things
The barbed quips the characters throw at each other are briskly paced, delivered with humour and intelligence and punctuated with judiciously placed laughs. Ms Page’s direction allows the characters to develop sensitively, unfolding in an unhurried manner never becoming strident or unlikable. They may be flawed but they are never un-relatable.
In between preparing for opening night of Seminar we also managed to cast our May production of Company!
And what a cast they are! Beaumaris Theatre is thrilled to be working with this talented group of musical theatre performers who are bringing Stephen Sondheim's classic musical to life.
This is a really collaborative team creating this show. Kirsten and Dan really work with us, finding the good and nudging us towards better. The cast are really giving and sharing. This show features a lot of high density speeches and monologues; It would be easy to be looking inwards as actors, but instead everyone is inclusive and sharing, looking for opportunities to bring everyone else into the scene.
2018 has been another year of outstanding success. It is tremendously rewarding to be able to report that our Theatre continues to give pleasure to our community, with more than 2,700 tickets sold over our four productions this year.