Making quality theatre accessible to the local community

Welcome to the Torquay Theatre Troupe newsletter!

Holiday greetings!

Welcome to our end-of-year issue of the TTTalk newsletter!

We have just wrapped up our performance season of ‘When Dad Married Fury’ and have had plenty of fabulous feedback from the audiences who came along to see this funny and thought provoking David Williamson piece. Congratulations to our director Michael Baker and the cast and crew who brought this entertaining Australian play to life.

We’ve also just attended two theatre awards nights where TTT received nominations and awards for our last two productions ‘When Dad Married Fury’ and ‘The Laramie Project’. For more info check out our  awards news below!

Also in this newsletter we take a behind the scenes look at getting a play off the ground, we share a TTT member profile and re-visit a moment from Arsenic and Old Lace. We also have a rare opportunity to be a part of our committee as Treasurer. See below for details.

There is plenty more to come in 2018, with opportunities to be involved both on and off stage. Stay tuned for updates on events, productions and auditions!

From all of us at TTT, we wish you a wonderful summer holiday season and we look forward to seeing you in 2018!



Awards News!

The end of the year means theatre awards season and TTT performances were acknowledged at the Geelong Oscars and the Victorian Drama League Awards. One of our newest members Robyn Farrar won Most Refreshing Newcomer at the recent Geelong Oscar Awards for her role as Fury in ‘When Dad Married Fury’ and  Kathryn O’Neill won the Best Supporting Female Actor award for her role in our mid-year production of ‘The Laramie Project’. Congratulations Robyn and Kathryn! TTT were also nominated in several categories for both of our 2017 plays.
At the recent Victorian Drama League awards TTT received nominations for nominations for Best Director (Zina Carman), Best Production (The Laramie Project) and Best Male Actor in a Drama (Michael Baker). Congratulations to everyone involved!

The cast of ‘When Dad Married Fury’.
Fred Preston, Meryl Friend, Paul Friend, Robyn Farrar,
Kevin Fitzpatrick and Mandy Calderwood.


‘When Dad Married Fury’ directed by Michael Baker for Torquay Theatre Troupe. Price St Theatre, Torquay,  November 6, 2017. 

David Williamson’s sharply drawn studies of modern Australian social mores ideally suit the Torquay Theatre Troupe.

Over the years, the company has built a strong reputation presenting light social comedies with accuracy and flair – and the company’s intimate Price St Theatre lends itself to Williamson’s conversational-level dialogue style.

Add to this TTT’s easy ability to draw cast members from the larger Geelong theatre scene while uncovering startling new talents – and it’s small wonder that patrons anticipated this final TTT play for the year, with delight.

They were not disappointed. This When Dad Married Fury had its packed preview-night audience laughing, gasping and relishing every nuance, subtle plot-twist and clever quip in Williamson’s neatly-crafted script.
Director Michael Baker had used all the aforementioned attributes – casting a Geelong theatre veteran couple, Paul and Meryl Friend, alongside a handful of tried-and-true Troupers with an exciting newcomer – and then presenting the play in a sensible no-frills style that offered no distractions to Williamson’s witty, relevant dialogue.

Paul Friend played Alan, a 70-year-old financial tycoon widower returning to Sydney with his new American wife to a frosty reception from his adult children.
His two adult sons and their wives feared for their inheritances in  what was essentially a study of human greed.

Paul played his part with brash expansive relish, while his real-life wife Meryl portrayed his acidic lawyer daughter-in-law with the cold skill of a smiling assassin.
She manipulated her wily, well-heeled materialistic husband, played with assurance by Fred Preston, with as much ease as she dismissed her financially-inferior academic in-laws.
These were the indecisive, vacillating Kevin Fitzpatrick and his stubbornly resolute wife, Mandy Calderwood.

Alongside these accomplished performers were two newcomers who added polish and gloss with very different skills.

The decorous Robyn Farrar played new wife Fury with perfect, fragile self-assurance, somehow bestowing her off-beat red-neck character with sympathetic charm. While former TTT president and accomplished director Gay Bell, surprisingly in her stage debut, played Mandy’s ruined widowed mother with a doughty fortitude that brought empathy, understanding – and sympathetic knowing laughter.

I recommend you see this When Dad Married Fury. It’s not only a showcase of playwright Williamson’s observational skill – but also of TTT’s fine staging ability. Together, they make great theatre.
–  Colin Mockett

What’s On in 2018?
Watch out for auditions in January/February for our May 2018 production and stay tuned for details of all 2018 productions including a one-act play event in July/August. Expect some new faces, new directors and more opportunities to be involved!
Join us on Facebook or check out our website
So what happens to get a play off the ground?
Once a play and a Director has been selected (sometimes a task in itself) a casting call goes out (Facebook, supporters list, local theatre companies, known actors) for potential actors. Auditions take place after a couple of weeks and the play is cast with a plan for about 26 rehearsals between the initial read-through and opening night. Rehearsals start with some character-development, script analysis, the Director’s vision and confirmation of everyone’s availability for the rehearsal dates (we do still have a private and professional life to fit around rehearsals).
The technical and stage management crew are sought and called in to help with costumes, props, set design and building, lighting, sound, production, promotion, front-of-house, prompt and assisting the Director. These are the people who seldom show their faces on stage but without whom our shows would not go ahead.
The first stage for the actors is ‘blocking’, in which we read the script on-stage and the Director gives us advice about the set design (including any stage settings, furniture and props to know about) and, as we go through the script, makes suggestions and gives instructions about when and where to move (and to some extent why). We don’t do much about how to move, what ‘voice’ to use or where the emphasis of the script should be. That comes later. Depending on the complexity of the play, its length, the Director’s intentions and the space available on stage, the blocking can take a long time but sometimes is pretty straightforward. We run the blocking through a few times to fix it in the minds of the actors and to allow them to make notes on their scripts to learn whilst learning the lines.  The assistant Director will also note the blocking in case someone can’t make a rehearsal and needs a stand-in. The blocking is sometimes done on an empty stage (we haven’t got all the set built or props gathered at this stage) so it’s up to the actors and Director to pay attention to what the physical constraints might be once furniture and props are being used.
After the blocking process, it’s time for the actors to start giving up their scripts and starting to commit the lines to memory, remember their movements, think about their interactions with fellow actors, consider the intent of their actions and experiment with a few different delivery methods. Script-free rehearsals allow the actors to start engaging with, and reacting to, their fellow actors which always give the words new meaning and intent.  This is the exciting part and is where we, as actors, can express the words in a variety of ways which may bring forward new or different meanings and relationships on-stage.
More next time.



Erika Turner

Erika Turner, current secretary for the Torquay Theatre Troupe, is what we would call a TTT treasure.  She expressed interest in our theatre company after seeing TTT’s production of Away in 2015 and after talking with Maryanne Doolan, TTT president at the time, suddenly found herself stage managing the troupe’s next production, All Things Considered.  The next thing she knew she was secretary for the troupe as well as vocal coach for the recent production of The Laramie Project.  What a wonderful find for us and we hope for her also.  Being secretary is a huge job and Erika has embraced it with enthusiasm and humour.

Erika has a fascinating career as a singing teacher, vocal coach and ensemble conductor.  Her work with her current ensemble of singers began with the support of the Spring Creek Community House in Torquay.  She is also working currently as a singing teacher with secondary students, as a teacher at a dance and performing arts studio in Geelong and as a teacher from her home studio in Torquay.  She brings to this work her extensive experience as a performer in musical theatre and cabaret in Melbourne.  Torquay, as well as TTT, is so lucky to have her and her family – husband and five children. Welcome and thanks Erika.



Flashback – ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’

Two slightly nutty men of an interesting age.  What are they reading?  Brian Eaton and Michael Lambkin in ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’.


The Last Word

I think the theatre is as essential to civilisation as safe, pure water.
Vanessa Redgrave,  The Redgraves: A Family Epic


 2017 Torquay Theatre Troupe Inc
Issue 2, June 2017

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