old man By MATTHEW WHITTET Director ANTHEA WILLIAMS This production of Old Man opened at Belvoir St Theatre on Saturday 9 June 2012. Set & Costume Designer MEL PAGE Lighting Designer HARTLEY T A KEMP Composer & Sound Designer STEFAN GREGORY Assistant Director NESCHA JELK Stage Manager DREW CIPOLLONE
With Sam ALISON BELL Charlotte MADELEINE BENSON Albert PETER CARROLL Daniel LEON FORD Carol GILLIAN JONES Charlotte MITZI RUHLMANN Harry TOM USHER Harry ZAC YNFANTE
Thank you Australian Theatre for Young People, Anna & Michael Usher, Chrissy Ynfante & Matt Ralph, Sally Greenaway & Warwick Benson, Jane Blatchford & Danny Ruhlmann, Matthew Rossi, Kathryn Beck, Megan Holloway, and Jody Baker at the Children’s Guardian. Photography Heidrun Löhr DESIGN Alphabet Studio
Writer’s Note Matthew Whittet
When I started writing Old Man, I had one main question in my head. How do you become a father if you never really had one? I wanted to explore this question for two reasons. One was that I was a father myself, and the other was because there are a few people in my life who are close to me who never really knew their fathers. This idea of how you could ever separate yourself from your own children seemed to me like an enormous thing. Something that is so fraught and complicated and painful and I guess sometimes necessary. But whatever it is, it’s not uncommon. It happens all the time. And that really took me to this realisation that, whatever the reasons are, it’s complicated. Complex. That people and their reasons/needs are complex. Nothing is clear cut. Old Man is not an autobiographical work. I have a father I am close to and have always known. But there is a lot of me in there nonetheless, especially in its
imagining. I imagined what it would be like to wake up and not know where my own family was. I imagined what it would be like to be a child who can’t find his parents. And I imagined what would happen if something that happened a lifetime ago came back to say hi… and I wouldn’t know what to say in return. The process of writing Old Man has been an intriguing one. I knew I wanted to write a play in two parts, not two acts. I knew I wanted to explore what it was to be a man at the beginning of fatherhood and at the end. And I knew I wanted it to ask difficult questions in a simple and open-handed way. Other than that I had no idea where it was leading me. I think I was just happy to follow. In this sense the play has in turn asked many questions of me. And I think the outcome, like a young boy asking tricky questions of his father, has made me want to try and answer in the most open way possible.
Director’s Note Anthea Williams
I first read Old Man last year and I was totally captivated by the work. It was so visceral and so real; I immediately knew Daniel and loved his children, his family. I was struck by the rare insight the work gave me into fatherhood and paternal love. I’d never read anything quite like it but having read Matt’s past works I wasn’t surprised by how inventive and engaging it was, and how clearly he depicted a world of the internal. Yet it felt like a complete departure from some of his previous work and his plays for young audiences. For a work with such ambitions around form I was surprised by how simple and clean it was. I was also immediately struck by how well the play suited Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre, which is so intimate, like this play. I loved the idea that we could spend 90 minutes with this family in a room not much bigger than a living room. Old Man is a play in two parts. Each half utilises a different performance style. In Part One characters talk directly to us, telling us of their fears and feelings. Then in Part Two the fourth wall returns and we’re left to watch this family though Matt’s beautifully drawn naturalistic scenes, all the more poignant for the knowledge we already have from the characters themselves in Part One.
Anthea It’s been a delight working with this company. Matt is not only a fine playwright but also a fantastic theatre-maker and a joy to have in a rehearsal room. Australian Theatre for Young People very kindly put a call out for children to audition for this production, and then saw 168 young actors for the roles. We auditioned the 24 most promising and, while each was great in their own way, Maddie, Mitzi, Tom and Zac have brought a unique energy to these roles and a lovely mix of fun and professionalism. I’m incredibly grateful to Alison, Gillian, Leon and Peter for taking on this project – it’s been wonderful watching their characters and this family grow and to have such a formidable cast in the Downstairs Theatre. Similarly our technical and creative team including Drew, Hartley, Mel, Potter and Stefan have been fantastic. I hope you enjoy Old Man.
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Biographies MATTHEW WHITTET Writer Matthew is a graduate of NIDA. His one-man show Silver (B Sharp), which he wrote and performed in, won the Philip Parsons Young Playwright’s Award. His other writing credits include The Fugitive, School Dance (Windmill Theatre); and Harbinger (Brink Productions). For Belvoir he has performed in The Book of Everything, The Threepenny Opera, The Underpants, King Ubu and As You Like It. Other acting credits include The Wonderful World of Dissocia, Metamorphosis, Endgame, Fireface (Sydney Theatre Company); Hamlet, King Lear (Bell Shakespeare); Moving Target, The Ham Funeral (Malthouse Theatre); and The Department (STCSA). Matthew also has extensive film and TV credits as an actor. ANTHEA WILLIAMS Director Anthea is Belvoir’s Literary Manager. She trained at the Victorian College of the Arts (Directing) and the University of New South Wales. Anthea was Associate Director of bushfutures at London’s Bush Theatre, where her directing credits include Two Cigarettes, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover at Christmas, suddenlossofdignity.com, Turf, and the musical The Great British Country Fete. Prior to the Bush, Anthea was the Co-Artistic Director of SmackBang Theatre Company and the producer of Massive Company, both in Auckland, New Zealand.
ALISON BELL Sam Alison is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts. For Belvoir she has appeared in As You Like It, The Book of Everything and The Promise. Her other theatre credits include Tribes, The Ugly One, Blackbird, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Doubt, King Lear (Melbourne Theatre Company); Moving Target, Sleeping Beauty, The Spook (Malthouse Theatre); Rabbit, Doubt (Sydney Theatre Company). Her TV work includes Laid, Mrs Biggs, I Rock, Offspring, City Homicide, Rush, Packed to the Rafters and Last Man Standing. Alison won a 2006 Helpmann Award for Doubt, and a 2007 Green Room Award for her body of work. She received both Green Room and Helpmann Awards nominations for her role in Blackbird. Alison’s role in Laid earned her AACTA and IF nominations. MADELEINE BENSON Charlotte Madeleine is 14 and is passionate about music and theatre. She spent nine years singing with the Sydney Children’s Choir. Her first professional appearance on stage was in Pinchgut Opera’s 2008 production of Charpentier’s David and Jonathan. She has worked with Australian Theatre for Young People both in holiday workshops and in their 2010 production of Maxine Mellor’s Desiree Din and the Red Forest. Madeleine is studying drama and music, and plans to pursue her interests in the performing arts at a tertiary level.
PETER CARROLL Albert Peter’s distinguished career has spanned over 90 productions. For Belvoir he has appeared in The Book of Everything, Happy Days, Hamlet, The Blind Giant is Dancing, The Tempest, The Chairs and Stuff Happens. Other theatre credits include No Man’s Land, The Crucible, The War of the Roses, Gallipoli, The Serpent’s Teeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Season at Sarsaparilla, The Art of War, The Bourgeois Gentleman, The Lost Echo, Mother Courage and Her Children, Victory and The Cherry Orchard (Sydney Theatre Company). Peter has won many awards including a Sydney Theatre Critics’ Circle Award and an Honorary Doctorate of Creative Arts. Peter is the recipient of the Media Arts & Entertainment Alliance’s Lifetime Achievement Award; he continues to be a proud supporter of the union. DREW CIPOLLONE Stage Manager Drew trained at the Australian Centre of Performing Arts, specialising in theatre, film and television. His credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (B Sharp/Arts Radar/Bob Presents); Cats (Really Useful Company); Hats Off (Oz Showbiz Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS); Mary Poppins (Disney Theatricals/Cameron Macintosh); Sydney Festival; Titanic – The Musical (Seabiscuit Productions); L’Oreal Fashion Festival; and This Is Our Youth (Sydney Opera House/ David Binder/Eric Schnall/Jayne Baron Sherman). His West End and European credits include Eurobeat, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Tonight, West End Bushfire Benefit and Simply Cinderella. Writing credits include XAVIER – The Musical Evolution, Demons and Misinterpretations.
LEON FORD Daniel This is Leon’s Belvoir debut. His theatre credits include Hamlet, The Soldier’s Tale, Hippolytus, A Midsummers Night’s Dream, Henry V (Bell Shakespeare); Presence (Griffin Theatre Company); and Shakespearealism (The Naked Theatre Company). Leon’s film credits include Beneath Hill 60 and $9.99. His TV credits include The Pacific, Changi, All Saints, Tsunami: The Aftermath, Hex, Stepfather of the Bride, The Cooks and Go Big. Leon is also an accomplished writer and director; his first feature film Griff the Invisible premiered at the Toronto and Berlin Film Festivals 2012. His first novel, What Doesn’t Kill You, was published in 2009. STEFAN GREGORY Composer & Sound Designer Stefan is an associate artist at Belvoir. His credits include Strange Interlude, Thyestes, As You Like It, Neighbourhood Watch, The Seagull, The Wild Duck, Measure for Measure, That Face (Belvoir); The War of the Roses, Frankenstein (Sydney Theatre Company); Baal (Malthouse Theatre/Sydney Theatre Company); Infinity: There is Definitely a Prince Involved (The Australian Ballet); The Suicide, B.C. (The Hayloft Project); Silent Disco, The Call (Griffin Theatre Company); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (B Sharp/Bob Presents/Arts Radar); King Lear, Hamlet and Othello (Bell Shakespeare). Stefan has been nominated for multiple awards for his theatre work, and he was a member of the band Faker.
NESCHA JELK Assistant Director Nescha graduated from the Flinders Drama Centre directing course in 2010, with first class Honours and a university medal. She won the Helpmann Academy Award for South Australia’s top performing/visual arts 2010 graduate. Nescha has directed Ionesco’s The Lesson (Accidentals); Alice and Peter Grow Up (Milk Theatre Collective); and Sepia (Royal Institution of Australia), which was awarded the Adelaide Fringe Tour Ready Award. She has been an assistant director for the State Theatre Company of South Australia, five.point.one and Brink Productions in Adelaide, and for Eleventh Hour in Melbourne. GILLIAN JONES Carol For Belvoir, Gillian has performed in Scorched, Antigone, Cloudstreet, Suddenly Last Summer, The Birthday Party, The Governor’s Family and The Seagull. Other theatre credits include A Cheery Soul (Belvoir/Sydney Theatre Company); Homebody/Kabul (B Sharp); The Glass Menagerie (Black Swan State Theatre Company); King Tide (Griffin Theatre Company); Exit the King, Eldorado (Malthouse Theatre); Far Away (Sydney Theatre Company); The Glass Menagerie and Cloud Nine (Melbourne Theatre Company). Her TV credits include The Slap, Spirited, Packed to the Rafters and Love My Way. Her film credits include Andy X, The Tree, Lucky Miles, Last Train to Freo and So Close To Home.
HARTLEY T A KEMP Lighting Designer Hartley’s credits include Les Liaisons Dangereuses, In the Next Room (Sydney Theatre Company); The Story of Mary MacLane (Ride On/Malthouse/Griffin); The Gift (Melbourne Theatre Company); Cordelia (Little Dove/Motherboard); and The Duchess of Malfi (Bell Shakespeare). Hartley works extensively overseas, including productions on Broadway, in Cape Town, Dublin, Frankfurt, Innsbruck and Gothenburg. His work in London includes West End, National, RSC, Donmar, Old Vic, Royal Court, Almeida, Bush, Gate, Hampstead, Menier, Stratford East, Tricycle, ROH Linbury, and Opera Holland Park. His UK regional work includes Birmingham Rep, Bristol Old Vic, Castleward Opera, Chichester Festival Theatre, Clwyd Teatr Cymru and Manchester Royal Exchange. Hartley is Artistic Director of C venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
MEL PAGE Set & Costume Designer Since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts, Mel has designed the costumes for Strange Interlude, As You Like It and The Promise at Belvoir. Other set and/ or costume credits include The Suicide, The Only Child, Spring Awakening (B Sharp/The Hayloft Project); Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Pygmalion (Sydney Theatre Company); Baal (Malthouse Theatre/ Sydney Theatre Company); Vs. Macbeth (The Border Project/Sydney Theatre Company); The Nest (The Hayloft Project); The Apocalypse Bear Trilogy (Stuck Pigs Squealing/Melbourne Theatre Company/ Melbourne International Arts Festival); Spicks and Specktacular (ABC/Token Events); and Noye’s Fludde (Victorian Opera). In 2010, Mel created an instillation for Visible City, a keynote project of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. MITZI RUHLMANN Charlotte Mitzi is currently studying at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. She is well known for her role as Rabbit in Home and Away (Seven Network). Her other television credits include ABC’s Dance Academy and Fox 8’s multiplatform drama, SLiDE. Mitzi has lead roles in the short films The Umbrella and Yardbird, which is in competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
TOM USHER Harry Tom is 10 and thrilled to be making his theatrical debut at Belvoir. He recently made his big screen debut in Stephan Elliott’s feature film A Few Best Men. Tom’s acting gene may have been implanted in Los Angeles, where he was born in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. But his yearning for the stage most likely came from London’s West End, when he moved to London with his family at a young age. Tom enjoys public speaking, debating and performing at school but also has a competitive appetite for rugby union and basketball. ZAC YNFANTE Harry Zac is very excited to be making his Belvoir debut. He played a lead role in Tusk Tusk for Sydney Theatre Company/ATYP, and has performed for the past four years with Action Atelier in Fast & Fresh at Parramatta Riverside Theatres. Zac has had the lead role in several short films including The Alien Boy, The Law and Good Knights, in addition to support roles in In the Clear and Wishes. He has also appeared in several commercials and corporate videos.
I know I will look back on this day as an old, old man.
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The program from Belvoir's production of Old Man in our Downstairs Theatre, 7 June - 15 July 2012. Look out for more uploads of our Downstai...