The Real Inspector Hound

by Tom Stoppard, directed by Sam Archer

5-14 July 2024 at The Etty Street Studio, 35 Etty Street, Castlemaine

Book your tickets here

Fridays, Saturdays 7.30pm/Sundays 2pm

Castlemaine Theatre Company brings you a hilarious winter warmer, the classic one-act play ‘The Real Inspector Hound’ by Tom Stoppard, directed by Sam Archer. Written in the early 60s, it’s a playful spoof of the Murder Mystery genre, so popular in mid-century modern England. A ‘play within a play’ the audience is joined by two critics, a hack and a has-been, who mercilessly dissect the action, but all is not as it seems when the barriers between fact and fiction begin to blur!

Cast: Daniela Amaya Coria; Kevin Cook; Deirdre Gibb; Neetha Nambiar; Tim Ratcliffe; Emma Richardson; Molly Snowball; Bonnie Swarris; Rob Tedge; John Willis



Feuding theatre critics Moon and Birdboot are swept into the murder mystery play they are reviewing in London. The murder mystery, the play-within-a-play, is set at Muldoon Manor “an opulent home amid marshes and swamps near a cliff”. Nearby the Manor, a madman is on the loose.
With a storm on the horizon the police led by Inspector Hound cannot get to the Manor. As the
narratives of both plays continue, they intermingle with one another, including the actors between
plays, with both performances entwined by the end.


Director’s note

We are all addicted to storytelling, better yet if it comes with a witty plot, intrigue and exaggerated characters. Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound offers us numerous stories gleefully wrapped in a play within a play. It is a parody of Agatha Christie murder mysteries, an examination of the often eccentric and ridiculous nature of relationships, the pompous and esoteric language of theatre critics, and the absurdities of logic, language and culture. Life itself is overflowing with stories, theatrics and absurdities. And, like life, we can assume that Hound will have a beginning and certainly a middle. But we may well ask, and indeed ask we should, where and will this story end? Can you start with a pause? And who is The Real Inspector Hound?

Photography by Stephen Mitchell




by Libby Angel

November 2024

An intriguing and hilarious new play by local writer Libby Angel and Brisbane-based writer Helen Johnstone. Qubit is set in the near future, when 3 hapless computer scientists are trying to boot up their new quantum computer, ‘Qubit’. The situation gradually deteriorates when they discover they are out of biscuits, and Qubit has dreams of their own.

Directed by Kate Stones

Under Milk Wood

"To begin at the beginning: It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible black..."

October/Nov 2023

Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

Under Milk Wood is a play written for radio by the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. It’s a poetic, lilting and humorous portrayal of the dreams, hopes and regrets of a small seaside community.

CTC’s production was directed by Michelle Dorian, who has directed seven full-length plays with community and semi-professional groups, plus a few short pieces including “Into The Mix” as part of Walk With Us: Untold Castlemaine with Castlemaine Theatre Company.

Cast: Jonny Conquest, Sarah Cody, Kevin Cook, Angela Down, David Farrington, Mark Fuller, Fran Gleeson, Molly Koek, Neetha Nambiar, Graham Pitts, Stevie Rigby, Renee de Robertis, Antionette Sampson, Elizabeth Scanlon and Peter Waltham

This is what our audiences said! (Comments from Instagram and Facebook):

“We went to see the Castlemaine Theatre Company production of “Under Milk Wood” last night at the Phee Broadway Theatre and it was absolutely fantastic. Highly recommended” – Brett

“We just loved every moment of it!” – Susan

“Go and see this show. The colours, the costumes, the set……the language!! Don’t miss it” – Rob

“Such a wonderful play. An absolute must see” – Libby

“Just saw this in Castlemaine!! Very entertaining… fabulous” – Jackie

“Amazing production, worth going” – Ian

“We saw it last night. The dialogue these actors have learned is incredible. It was a wonderful performance of which everyone should feel very proud” – Robyn

“Fantastic. Loved it to bits. Very well done, the whole production” – Anna

“Fabulous play – first time I’ve seen it. Don’t miss it… So fun” – Hayleigh

“It was BRILLIANT… you must all go!!!” – Hilary


See some of our great promotional press here:

Quirky Small Town Vibe for New Production (

The truth of small town living | Midland Express

An Amateur Production By Arrangement with ORiGiN™ Theatrical, on behalf of Samuel French Ltd. – A Concord Theatricals Company
Photographs by Micah Meadows

Romeo and Juliet

Directed by Rob Jorritsma

19 May - 4 June 2023

Our 2023 production of Romeo and Juliet will be like no other: a contemporary take on the classic tale. Set in the dark and gritty laneways and alleys of the inner city, two star-crossed lovers navigate the seedy underworld of warring powerful families in a haze of love, hope and tragedy.

Cast: Sam Archer, Fynnian Bevin, Orvokki Britton, Lucy Campbell, Sarah Cody, Christina Curtain-Magee, Caolán Faircloth, Mars Field, Avril Good, Georgina Heydon, Hannah Jeffcoat, Milly Karimi, Will Marney, Manue René, Mike Smythe, Anwen Stokes, Thea Sydes, Iona Thomas-Lawrance, Peter Waltham.

For more information about this classic tragedy, see where it all began, here

These gorgeous rehearsal shots were taken by Stephen Mitchell





Qubit Reading

A Studio Reading of a brand new script by Libby Angel and Helen Johnstone

Saturday 25 Feb 2023, 8pm

Etty Street Rehearsal Studio, Upstairs at ‘Autoplex’, 35 Etty Street, Castlemaine

Join us for a relaxed rehearsed reading of an intriguing and hilarious new play by local writer Libby Angel and Brisbane-base writer Helen Johnstone. Qubit is set in the near future, when 3 hapless computer scientists are trying to boot up their new quantum computer, ‘Qubit’. The situation gradually deteriorates when they discover they are out of biscuits, and Qubit has dreams of their own.

FREE TO BOOK – suggested donation of $10 at the door, cash or card. Please BOOK so we know how many are coming, space is limited.

With Jane Staley, Sach Motee, Clare Shamier, Edwin Lavery Duus, Toby Heydon and Kate Stones

Speak the Speech: Shakespeare Summer School

Facilitated by Rob Jorritsma and Toby Heydon

Sunday 22 January, 10am-5pm, Etty Street Studio, 35 Etty Street, Castlemaine

This Summer holidays, the Castlemaine Theatre Company is holding a one day Shakespeare Intensive Workshop: ‘Speak the Speech’  for 15-25 year olds. Hosted by Rob Jorritsma and Toby Heydon, the workshop will take participants through some of Shakespeare’s diverse offering of works, from plays to soliloquies, teaching the meaning of the language behind his words in a playful, fun-filled atmosphere.

BYO Lunch and drink.

Cost: $10 over 18/$5 under 18. Pay on arrival, cash (correct money only) or card

Free for CTC Members

To register email

Peter Panto – or One Flew Over the Second Star on the Right

Adapted and directed by Kate Stones from the original by JM Barrie

4-20 November 2022, Phee Broadway Theatre, Castlemaine

Running time: 2 hours

Suitable for ages 8 – 500 (and you don’t have to bring kids along to enjoy it!)


About the Production

This is the story of Peter Pan told in the form of a Pantomime. Which means a Dame in drag, plus lots of opportunities for the audience to shout at the actors, local references and slapstick humour. A traditional aspect of Panto is that characters from different stories can show up. The script draws on One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest to source a Dame (guess who!), and themes from the iconic movie/novel, are woven through the show (if you love One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, you’ll spot the references). JM Barrie will no doubt turn in his grave! We will also interrogate outdated aspects of the story, the ‘Redskins’ are replaced by The Castlemaine Magpies, our local footy team, the Pirates are all female, and Wendy is a child prodigy animal psychologist. Our story begins in the youth psych ward of Castlemaine Hospital…oh yes and there will be a few of your favourite songs – so be prepared to sing along!


Edwin Lavery Duus (Peter Pan), Milly Karimi (Wendy), Seamus Curtain Magee (Nurse Ratched), Bridget Haylock (Captain Hook), John Willis, (Tink), Gabriel O’Sullivan (John), Stanley Kearns (Michael), Angela Down (Nana), Yen Kong (Chief Bromden/Tiger Lily), Isis Jordan (Crocodile). Lost Boys; Olive Andrews, Orvokki Britton, Jesse Keril, Molly Koek, Will Marney, Thea Sydes; Pirates: Sarah Cody, Leah Fistric, Sally Guildford, Paula Russell, Jane Staley; Magpies: Michael McMahon, Harper Russell-Just, Antionette Sampson, Peter Waltham.

Photography: Stephen Mitchell



CTC Winter Speakeasy

We're creating a space for creatives to present a five or ten minute play-reading to the theme of BEAT

Etty St Studio, July 23, Doors Open at 7.30pm

Attention writers, actors and supportive audiences! We’re creating a space for informal, short play-readings, welcoming experienced and not so experienced creatives to have a go and try something new.

Optional Theme: BEAT (Beat the winter blues? Beat of your own drum? Beat Generation?)

Come with a five or ten-minute scene that you have written or chosen, or come ready to act someone else’s scene. Best to register in advance to ensure your spot if you want to perform but walk-ups are welcome. We will endeavour to find a way to involve you.

When: Saturday 23 July, Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start

Where: CTC’s Etty Street Studio, 35 Etty Street, Castlemaine

Entry Price: $5 for non members and free for members

Registration or Enquiries:


Walk With Us: Untold Castlemaine – Photo Gallery

"A Great Evening of Performance & Storytelling"

What a glorious, theatrical way to start the new year! An evening walk through the streets and lanes of Castlemaine; an opportunity to experience some theatre after so long; charming tales and enthusiastic participants. Thank you to everyone involved in this unique production, behind the scenes, on the stage and in the audience. It showed what a connected community can create and enjoy together. (Photos on this page all by Rhea Favero).

Walk with Us: Untold Castlemaine

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! See short stories unfold on street corners and behind buildings, along alleys and in front of monuments.

21-30 Jan and 1- 3 April 2022

Performances: Friday/Saturday at 6.30pm and Sunday at 5.30pm. Meet at The Market Building on Mostyn Street.

CTC is thrilled to announce a reprise of our fun, thoughtful, outdoor theatrical journey. Led by flamboyant guides, the audience will travel in covid- safe groups through the backstreets of Castlemaine, stopping in hidden spots to be entertained by five scenes written especially for this production by local writers.

The scenes are short – under 5 minutes – and inspired by the theme of ‘what brings our community together’.  Although based on real events or stories from the community this is definitely not a history tour. It is imaginative and adventurous.

  • Lead Artist and Guides text, Mark Penzac
  • Into the Mix, by Samantha Bews, directed by Michelle Dorian
  • Market Calls, by Toby Heydon, directed by John Willis
  • Judicial Murder, by Graham Pitts, directed by Jeff Jones
  • The Billy Cart Race, by Lisa D’Onofrio, directed by Sally Guildford
  • Common Ground, by Kevin Cook, directed by Bridget Haylock

Cast: Mark Penzak, Tim Ratcliffe, Angela Down, Deirdre Gibb, Lewis Kooperman, Rachel Leary, Jen O’Donnell, Elizabeth Scanlon, Louise Osland, Toby Heydon, Kevin Cook, Mark Fuller, Elly Krieg, Graham Pitts, April Gareffa, Sally Guildford, Molly Koek, Paul Kooperman, Marta Shamier, Bridget Haylock, Sebastian Marshell, Serra Stone, Peter Waltham, Ken MacLeod, Michelle Dorian.

The audience journey starts at The Market building, progresses through Victory Park, walks up Mostyn St, then via Uniting church, through the back alley behind the Presbyterian Church to Templeton St, down the hill to the Hub garden, around to the Phee and the concluding in the Village Square (the outdoor area in front of the Town hall building). OR the entire route in the other direction!

The production is optimistic. It’s not that we don’t see present problems, but for this production, we’re using art to elevate. Our objective is to make the audience see that things aren’t all bad, to feel more connected to the community and have a good night out. We’re beginning 2022 on an upbeat.

What a glorious, theatrical way to start the new year! An evening walk through the streets and lanes of Castlemaine; an opportunity to experience some theatre after so long; charming tales and enthusiastic participants. Thank you to everyone involved in this unique production, behind the scenes, on the stage and in the audience. It showed what a connected community can create and enjoy together. (Photos on this page all by Rhea Favero).

This event is supported by the Mount Alexander Shire Council Events Grants Program.

The Tempest: A Sound Project

Directed by Kate Stones, with original music by David Thrussell.

Listen to The Tempest Podcast

More digital audio visual content from the CTC

“Listening right now to The Tempest. Marvellous! Sound design is beautiful and immersing. The shipwreck…stunning. Oh, and the music…fantastic! Very good performances overall and seamlessly embedded in the atmospherics. Congratulations!”

Is blood thicker than water? Two charismatic sisters, one mad (perhaps…), the other bad (perhaps…) embark on contrasting paths to power. Drawn into a festering conflict, they take a winding and magical route to redemption. David Thrussell’s original score paints an expansive, dangerous and intoxicating landscape encompassing driving electronic beats and magisterial, mystical themes.

Additional Music by Sach Motee (Episode 3), Sound design by Simeon Roberts, Sound technicians Toby Heydon and Elizabeth Scanlon. Assistant Director Toby Heydon. Many thanks to Glenn Williams from 94.9 mainFM.


David Farrington (Alonso, King of Naples); Toby Heydon (Sebastian, his brother); Lisa Martin (Prospera, the rightful Duke of Milan); Sally Guildford (Antonia, her sister, the usurping Duke of Milan): Edwin Lavery (Ferdinand, son of the King of Naples): David Watson (Gonzalo, an honest old councillor); Stephen McMahon (Adrian, a lord and a naturalist); John Cosgriff (Caliban, a native of the island, enslaved by Prospera); Tim Ratcliffe (Trinculo, a jester); Jonathan Conquest (Stephano, a drunken butler); Aston Elliot (Master Boatswain); Orvokki Britton (Miranda, daughter of Prospera); Hannah Jeffcoat and John Willis (Ariel, an airy spirit); Elizabeth Scanlon (Iris, a Goddess)

Our Changes

Created during the COVID year of 2021, this innovative project was inspired by a New York theatre company who created an episodic podcast version of Richard II. One of Shakespeare’s last works, The Tempest was first performed in 1611. It takes place on an enchanted island where a banished duke plots to get revenge on his usurping brother. In our version we have adapted the original script altering the gender of the main character, who now becomes Prospera, with her sister Antonia. This shifts the dynamic of the work, and enhances the subtlety of the characterisations. The tension between Miranda, the adolescent daughter of Prospera, a menopausal mother is palpable. The Tempest themes include power, illusion, revenge and reconciliation.

Original Plot

The themes of the plot revolve around a major act of betrayal, ill treatment, the development of magic arts and a plot of revenge.

Twelve years ago, Prospero was Duke of Milan. Being of a bookish disposition, he withdrew more and more into his studies, leaving the management of his state to his brother Antonio. Eventually, with the help of Alonso, King of Naples, and the King’s brother Sebastian – inveterate enemies of Prospero – Antonio usurped the dukedom for himself. Prospero and his baby daughter Miranda were put to sea in a rotten boat and eventually landed on a distant island once ruled by the witch Sycorax but now inhabited only by her son, Caliban, and Ariel, a spirit.

Since then Prospero has ruled the island and its two inhabitants by the use of magic arts derived from his studies. His daughter Miranda has grown up seeing no other human being.

Prospero divines that fortune has brought his enemies close to the island and he sees an opportunity to work his revenge. He uses his powers to raise a storm which shipwrecks them. When Miranda questions this, he tells her the story of their arrival on the island and assures her that no real harm will come to the survivors.

The shipwrecked travellers are separated. At Prospero’s bidding, the invisible Ariel directs their wanderings. He leads Ferdinand, the King’s son, to Prospero’s cell, where he and Miranda fall instantly in love. Prospero sets heavy tasks to test Ferdinand.

The King of Naples searches for his son, although fearing him to be drowned. Sebastian, the king’s brother, plots to kill him and seize the crown. The drunken butler, Stephano, and the jester, Trinculo, encounter Caliban and are persuaded by him to kill Prospero so that they can rule the island. However, Ariel manages to make mischief between them and they are soon bickering amongst themselves.

Satisfied that Ferdinand has met all his challenges, Prospero presents the young couple with a betrothal masque celebrating chastity and the blessings of marriage. He is distracted from this, however, when he remembers Caliban’s plot.

As Prospero’s plan draws to its climax, he vows that upon its completion he will abandon his magic arts. Ariel brings Alonso and his followers to the cell, and Prospero, in his own persona as Duke of Milan, confronts his enemies and forgives them. In the betrothal of Ferdinand and Miranda, the rift between Naples and Milan is healed.




Find out how we are fighting off infections of boredom with covid safe activities and special offers!

It’s midwinter 2020 and here in Victoria we are still facing restrictions that make it very difficult to produce shows in the traditional way.

NEVER FEAR! we are still going to bring you some great drama experiences, and some awesome offers. First up:

SPECIAL COVID PRICES! In 2020 we have super cheap memberships available at only $10 for a year! Yes that’s right. Why join? You get to support the incredible resource that is the Castlemaine Theatre Company; You get to promote your COVID SAFE drama/performance activities on our socials and our 400 strong mailing-list; you get the latest updates about upcoming activities and auditions; you get our brilliant newsletter Headliner 4 times a year. All for just $10. Amazing, right? To celebrate our freedom, we also hope to bring you discount ticket prices for our first show after lockdown. Membership forms are here as a docx file: CTC COVID discount membership form or as a pdf here: CTC COVID discount membership form  Send your form to us here:

BROADCASTING on 94.9MainFM We are bringing you some wonderful excerpts from previous CTC shows that will be broadcast on our beloved local radio station 94.9MainFM. Our first one was on Sunday 5 July at 10.30am on Suzanne Donnisthorpe’s Artswank show. It’s an excerpt from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which we produced in 2018, directed by Rob Jorritsma. This excerpt is from Act II Scene 7, concluding with Jaques’ very famous ‘All the world’s a stage’ speech. The actors are in order of appearance Claire Shamier as Duke Senior, Stephen Mitchell as Jaques, and Gabriel Lillington as Orlando.

The following excerpt features Tim Ratcliffe performing his ‘Stan’ speech from our 2013 production of Aftershocks, by Paul Brown and the Newcastle Workers Committee. This is a verbatim play about the 1989 earthquake that destroyed the Newcastle Workers Club. It was first performed in 1991. Our production was directed by Trisha O’Hara.
In this speech Stan describes how he was rescued from the rubble, and the ongoing struggles he has with his mental and physical health in the aftermath of the disaster. Terrence Jaensch reviewed the production, and commented favourably on Tim’s performance: “…standouts are Tim Ratcliffe as Stan…Ratcliffe has a very natural, almost improvisational mannyer on stage, which is a perfect for the peice.” 3’s A Crowd member Lyn Grehg commented “I think Aftershocks is one of the best CTC production I have seen…”
This excerpt was featured on ArtSwank on Sunday 16 August 2020 (the backing track is ‘On Behalf of Nature by Meredith Monk):

Here Claire Shamier performs a medley of speeches as the character Polly, an entrepreneurial young woman, from our 2019 production Frankenstein’s Children by David Carlin, directed by Stephen Mitchell. This clip was broadcast on Glenn Williams Dark Moments radio show on 17 October 2020 (with original music composed and performed by Chrissie and Toby Heydon):

Our final offering features in order of appearance Donna Steven, Kate Stones and Zenith Flume performing a scene from Playhouse Creatures by April de Angelis, directed by Ken MacLeod in 2014. We performed at The Old Castlemaine Gaol, which provided an incredibly atmospheric backdrop to this period piece set in seventeenth century London, exploring the lives of the very first women to act on London’s stages. This clip was broadcast on Glenn Williams Around the Wireless show on 2nd December 2020 (the intro and outro music is Tandernaken, written by Jacob Obrecht and performed by The City Waites).

60th Birthday Bacchanal

17 August 2019

SEXY 60th BIRTHDAY BIG BACCHANAL on Sat Aug 17 at The Bridge Hotel

In 2019 CTC turned 60 and we threw a party to celebrate!

We invited everyone to come along and dance the night away with us at the Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine on 17 August.

There were 2 costume prizes with the THEME: Sci Fi Baccanal won by Louise Osland and Chris Wilson.

Local band “The Seduceaphones” joined us with their amazing brass Balkan Funk Folk music, which made the evening go with bang.

There was much dancing, amazing chocolate cake from Johnny Baker and a photo retrospective of past shows. Thanks to Vice President Clare Shamier for making it happen.

Frankenstein’s Children

by David Carlin

17 May-2 June 2019

Directed by Stephen Mitchell

The Phee Broadway Theatre, Mechanics Lane, Castlemaine

A black comedy set in Regency London, where our cross-dressing heroine negotiates a venal world of Bodysnatchers, villainous Surgeons, dishonest Undertakers, drunk Prostitutes and the occasional Solemn Angel and Foul Demon. Accompanied by the raucous songs of street balladeer Penny Dreadful, Frankenstein’s Children dives into bizarre gothic history with blood-curdling horror and lashings of gallows humour.



“What amazing talent and the attention to detail was fabulous”
“Magnificent production”
“Standout performances, super effective set, and entrancing, shocking story, dotted with relieving humour”
Thanks for a great night’s entertainment. Brilliant set, lighting & performances. Fantastic work!
I’ve been thinking about your play all morning. There was so many layers to it and so many
surprising and thoughtful details.”
“a strong brave show “



Rebecca Barnett, Seamus Curtain-Magee, Zenith Flume, Adeline Johnston, Kenneth MacLeod, Clare Shamier, Ralph Shipard, Donna Steven, Kate Stones, David WatsonIt’s 1832 and ‘bodysnatching’ is the new black


Story Synopsis

England 1832. The Industrial Revolution is at its peak. London’s population swells on an influx of poor people looking for factory jobs. Crime flourishes. Science and superstition walk hand in hand. Experimental surgical medicine creates a whole new economy for the desperate and opportunistic….a thriving black market in human remains robbed from freshly dug graves.

Young and well-to-do, Anne Sheridan is buzzing with the enthusiasm of scientific enquiry. Rebelling against her mother’s ambitions to marry her off, she disguises herself as a man, James Selfridge, and enrols at London’s School of Anatomy. There, James’ scientific ideals are corrupted by an elite order that traffics in human bodies with no moral qualms. Caught up in the commerce of flesh between the surgeons and street folk, s/he falls in love with prostitute Polly Chapman who has enterprisingly sold her body to science many times over. As 19th century science marches on with the successful passing of the ‘Anatomy Act’, can James save Polly from the mercenary surgeons under the leadership of the arrogant Sir Astley Cooper?


Director – Stephen Mitchell

After studying Community Theatre at the University of Tasmania in the 1980s, Stephen worked as an actor in Hobart and Adelaide, as well as in numerous backstage roles including stage manager, lighting designer/operator/rigger. As a scriptwriter, he has had plays staged in Melbourne and Sydney and a radio drama produced by ABC Radio National. In 2001, he won an AWGIE for his SBS teleplay ‘Wee Jimmy’. After a 20 year hiatus he returned to acting in 2010. In 2012 he directed and performed in ‘The Local Stigmatic’ for Castlemaine Theatre Company, and appeared in the 2016 production of ‘The Ghost Train’ and 2018’s ‘As You Like It’.


Director’s Notes

I saw Frankenstein’s Children at the 1990 Adelaide Festival. An original work by Red Shed Company, its inclusion in the main festival program was a thrilling coup for a small, local theatre collective. I knew many of the people involved and it was not without a degree of jealousy that I attended a performance in the authentic period surroundings of the East End market. Whatever envy I brought with me was obliterated by the marvellous, funny, poetic, intriguing theatrical work that they produced. I loved it.

To the best of my knowledge, the play has only ever been performed in Australia one other time. When I tracked down a copy of the script 28 years later, I wondered whether it would live up to my memory…It was better. Indeed, I find it extraordinary that writer David Carlin delivered such a wonderfully resonant, moving, astute work in his debut full length play. The story brims with rich characters full of humanity and subtlety. The writing is an actor’s dream, mixing well-observed vernacular with passages of simply beautiful prose, moving from hilarious comic interludes to heart-breaking romance, combining classic gothic horror with incisive political commentary. And it frames it all with a succession of traditional ballads sung by the show’s one woman chorus, the oh-so-fittingly named Penny Dreadful. I am very excited to bring it all to life (perhaps with a bolt of lightning!) on the Phee Broadway stage with Castlemaine Theatre Company.


Writer – David Carlin

Associate Professor David Carlin has a long and decorated career as a writer and creative artist and is currently co-director of the nonfictionLab research group at RMIT. Frankenstein’s Children was his first play, written in 1990 as a founding member of Adelaide’s dynamic Red Shed Company and performed in that year’s Adelaide Arts Festival. Since then, David has written many more plays, films and books. He served as Associate and Show Director of Circus Oz for a number of years, as well as Artistic Director of Red Shed Company, Arena Theatre Company and Melbourne Worker’s Theatre. He was also founding partner, producer and director with Cracker Night Films.

Dress Rehearsals at the Phee Broadway Theatre

These rehearsal photos were taken by Julie Millowick

Blood Wedding

"They were deceiving themselves, but the blood couldn’t be denied"

Nov 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30 and Dec 1 and 2 2018

BLOOD WEDDING by Federico Garcia Lorca

Directed by Rob Jorritsma

Performance Dates: Nov 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30 and December 1 and 2
Castlemaine Town Hall

Blood Wedding – one of Lorca’s famous rural tragedies

Federico García Lorca (1898 – 1936) lived at a time when the art world was exploding in new directions. His friends included Salvador Dalí and film-maker Luis Buñuel. The composers Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg were his contemporaries.

Blood Wedding is a tragedy about a young woman and two men fighting for her love. The Bride is in love with Leonardo, but their families do not get along, so Leonardo marries another woman. The Bride has been promised to another man, whom she doesn’t love, but will marry to appease her family.

Although Leonardo is already married, he confesses to the Bride that he is still in love with her. At first she tells him to be silent, but then confesses that she still loves him too.

Despite these revelations, she goes ahead with her marriage to the other man, but on the night of the wedding reception, she elopes with Leonardo. When their disappearance is discovered, the Mother commands everybody to search for them. In the forest where the Bride and Leonardo have fled, the play takes a surrealistic turn. The Moon and Death work together to encourage the Bridegroom and Leonardo to kill one another. Leonardo and the Bridegroom then meet and kill each other in a knife fight.

At the end of the play, the Bride returns to the church hoping that the Bridegroom’s Mother will kill her, but she doesn’t. The play closes with both women reflecting on the deaths of the two men.

The Blood Wedding cast includes Diane Addington, Peter Bevin, Lulu Carolan, Angela Down, Laura Hall-Levetan, Dominc Hayes, Kirsty MacCallum, Sebastian Marshall, Lisa Martin, Philip McDonald, Michael McMahon, Rebecca Morton, Louise Osland, Asha Richardson, Erin Scanlon and David Watson.

As You Like It

"All the world's a stage..."

May 18 - June 3 2018

by William Shakespeare

directed by Rob Jorritsma

performed at The Phee Broadway Theatre

May 18- June 3

Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30pm/Sundays at 2pm. Box Office opens 30mins before the show starts

“Just saw, nay! – experienced As You Like It by The Castlemaine Theatre Company. It was brilliant! Flowing, effervescent, modern and accessible. If you’re afraid of Shakespeare, just read a synopsis of the play before going, then let the skills of the players (and director and support crews) convey the richness, humour and delight that is this production. Thanks CTC, again!”

I thoroughly enjoyed Shakespeare’s As You Like It performed by the Castlemaine Theatre Company this afternoon. Did the play justice, whilst staying relevant to a modern audience. Interesting costumes and simple but innovative set design. Good fun and good acting – I highly recommend it.” Audience member

“Seven of us saw this and it is brilliant!! I would urge you to go and see it.” FB comment

“Truly spectacular show! I’d recommend it to everyone” FB comment

We are very excited to be taking on one of the Bard’s works for the very first time in the history of the Castlemaine Theatre Company. As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, which means that it’s whimsical, and at the end, everyone ends up married, rather than dead. Which is good.

Director Rob Jorritsma (who directed The Peach Season for the CTC in 2015) is an expert in Shakespeare, having worked for many years creating Shakespeare plays with young people at Castlemaine Steiner School.

The cast includes: Christina Curtain Magee (Phoebe), David Farrington (Silvius), Toby Heydon (Charles), Delwyn Hopkins (La Belle), Thomas Jones (Oliver), Bronwyn Lamb (Corin/Hymen), Gabriel Lillington (Orlando), Jess MacCallum (Rosalind), Stephen Mitchell (Jaques), Simeon Roberts (Amiens), Elizabeth Scanlon (Audrey), Clare Shamier (Duke Senior/Duke Frederick), Michael Treloar (Touchstone), Amy Vaux (Celia), and David Watson (Adam).


Central to the play is the love story between Rosalind and Orlando. They fall in love at first sight, but things are not that easy. The backdrop for their journey is drawn by two feuding brothers. The friendly Duke Senior has been banished and usurped by Duke Frederick and now lives in the Forest of Arden, a lovely place of transformation – a tree-change indeed. Rosalind is Duke Senior’s daughter. Forced by circumstances, Rosalind and Celia (Duke Frederick’s daughter) leave the court, accompanied by the clown Touchstone. They go in search of Duke Senior in the Forest of Arden with Rosalind dressed as a boy and Celia as a country girl. Orlando also leaves for the forest, fleeing from his brother Oliver who plans to kill him. In the forest we meet other characters as well. There is the melancholy Jaques (he’s got the famous ‘All the world’s a stage’ speech), then there’s the singer Amiens and some shepherds and country folk. A lot happens before the comedy comes to a joyful ending with multiple marriages. Rosalind has the honour of delivering the epilogue and thanking the audience. Our production will have a contemporary setting, showing the difference between life at the court and in the forest. As Duke Senior puts it:

‘And this our life exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in everything.’





Gallipoli The Musical

by Mark Penzak, directed by Kate Stones

10-26 November 2017

Gallipoli The Musical performed at Punctum’s ICU, Castlemaine Old Hospital, 1 Halford Street, Castlemaine

10-26 November, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm.

The title of the show ‘Gallipoli, The Musical’ by local writer and theatre maker, Mark Penzak has caused some brows to furrow and wonder, ‘What the…?’ Well, for starters, it’s not a musical in the traditional sense of the word, however it does have wonderful incidental music composed by Mark Anstey, (the brains and the brawn behind Lot19). The cast includes Charles Affleck (composer, Monkey and the Monk), Simon Birdsall (The Full Monty), Hector Mackenzie (CTC newcomer), Lynne Jolly (My Fair Lady), Michael McMahon (The Ghost Train), Elaine Matheson, Lindsay Matheson (Cat on a Hot Tim Roof), Tim Ratcliffe (Aftershocks) and Clare Shamier (Peach Season). Featuring Kenneth MacLeod as ‘Slim’ Hope, the last surviving Digger to serve at Gallipoli. Gallipoli the Musical is a riotous comedy, but it has a serious and thoughtful message about the commercialization of the ANZAC legend. It follows the story of Stumpy, Bluey and Sunny, 3 hapless shearers who have written a play called Gallipoli, The Massacre. Having failed to secure Australia Council funding they are seeking corporate sponsorship for their project. They happen upon the wheeling, dealing Carrie Trust, an advertising executive, who brings The Wool Board and The Hope Mining Corporation into the project as partners. The script weaves together warmth, humour and political satire in an affectionate framing of the ANZAC legend, casting a witty yet critical eye over the commercialization and commodification of the Gallipoli narrative.

The legend of Gallipoli continues to be remodelled today, reports Ruth Pollard in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Mustafa Ataturk, [was] the Turkish commander at Gallipoli, founder of the modern, secular Turkish republic, and its first president…There definitely seems to be a move in certain political circles to reduce the role of Ataturk and increase the motivation of Turks at Gallipoli to be fired by their belief in Islam, to say they looked on it as a kind of holy war.”

Gallipoli the Musical touchingly and humourously highlights the spirit of mateship and egalitarianism that underpins the truest and most humane aspects of the ANZAC story – young men of many different nationalities, with big dreams, thrown together in tragic circumstances, that left life-long scars on them as individuals, and on our national culture.


“It’s a great honour for me to direct a play that features the wonderful talents of our community. Mark Penzak’s script is a joy to interpret, and Mark Anstey’s score brings a whole new delicious dimension to the production. The cast is top notch, featuring some of my favourite ‘old hands’ of the CTC, and some exciting new talent. Gallipoli the Musical really encapsulates the vision of the CTC, supporting local artists and honouring our traditions, whilst pushing new boundaries where we can.” Kate Stones, Director

“This play is a humdinger. The depth of emotion that some of the cast have to feel and convey is palpable. The giggles are infectious. I’ve loved discovering the work so far and the history and present day significance of what the ANZAC legend is, and the director, Kate, has helped me form a 3 or 4-dimensional character for my role.” Michael McMahon, plays ‘Sunny’

“It’s been such a great time with this super cast and amazing script – discovering our characters and the complexities of human nature. It’s so great to be working with the Castlemaine Theatre Company again!” Clare Shamier, plays ‘Carrie Trust’

“This play is not satirizing Gallipoli or mocking the sacrifices made by that generation of Australians. The opposite. I have great respect for them. They not only fought the battles of war but the battle for Federation, the 8 hour day, voting rights to women and I believe, laid the foundations for that nebulous but nevertheless real concept of a ‘fair go’. In my imagination then, I don’t believe they’d approve of today’s erosion of worker’s rights, privatisation of medical services or the growing impression, particularly if you’re renting, that our fair go society has gone. Nor do I believe they’d approve of Gallipoli being commercialised or used to promote obligatory patriotism. Remember, they voted twice during the war not to introduce conscription. I wonder too what they’d make of us having fought an additional eight conflicts since The Great War. Gallipoli the Musical isn’t questioning their sacrifice, it’s questioning whether we’re living up to it.” Mark Penzak, Author, Gallipoli The Musical

NB The last surviving ANZAC soldier to serve at Gallipoli was Alec Campbell who died in 2002 at the age of 103. The characters in the story of ‘Gallipoli, The Musical’ are entirely fictional, and do not represent any real people living or dead, and do not reflect in any way the life of Alec Campbell. The CTC regards the courage and sacrifice of all service men and women with the utmost respect.


Mark Penzak

Mark Penzak works as a playwright, actor and theatre-maker for both adult and youth productions. Over his 30 year career he has created about two dozen productions which have toured around Australia, overseas and have been seen by a around half a million children. He has written, performed and directed cabaret, stand-up comedy and highly visual storytelling. Mark holds a BA (Theatre/Media) from Charles Sturt University, a Masters of Design (Film/TV) from Edinburgh College of Art with performance studies at John Bolton, Philippe Gaulier and at the Desmond Jones School of Mime in London. He also co-directs Such As They Are with Eliza-Jane Gilchrist, a company that creates highly visual productions that fuse puppetry with specially designed installations. Mark’s work has featured in numerous Castlemaine State Festival productions. Mark and Eliza live in Campbells Creek.


Kate Stones

Kate Stones has recently completed an MA in Directing for Performance at the VCA. She directed ‘No Hands’ for the Castlemaine State Festival (March 2017); in 2016 she devised and performed a solo work, The Quiet Bite at The Melbourne Fringe (North Melbourne Town Hall Festival Hub). She co-directs The Red Room Theatre in Campbells Creek, a collaboration with partner Kenneth MacLeod. The Red Room’s acclaimed production of Purgatorio by Ariel Dorfman, featured in the 2015 Castlemaine State Festival. Kate has worked for the CTC as director/project manager for Monkey and the Monk (2015), she directed Burqa (2013). She has performed in and production managed numerous CTC productions.


Audience Comments

“It’s a great play! I was brought to tears, laughed and laughed, stewed over big corporate and moaned like a dying soldier. Jam packed!” Renee Kelcey fb Nov 14

“Tell the director it’s a hit! They should make it into a movie” John Stanton, 12 Nov

“Fantastic fun! Saw it on opening night. Some terrific performances! Linnet Good fb Nov 13

“Hey there, just wanted to say big thanks for the show last night. I really enjoyed mulling it over on my drive back to Natimuk. So much amazing content in there but somehow the show keeps all the threads contained and manageable for the audience. Delivered with a special mix of professionalism, heart and energy. Well done!” Kate Finnerty

Photography by Diana Domonkos and Kate Stones


Arsenic and Old Lace

Another fabulous live Radio Drama in the CTC's Armchair Theatre series, adapted and directed by John Rowland

7, 8, 9 July; 14, 15, 16 July at The Faulder Watson Hall, Castlemaine and 22, 23 July at Newham Mechanics Institute

Arsenic and Old Lace provides another opportunity for audiences to relive the magic of 1940s Radio Theatre, in the vein of The Ghost Train performed at the end of 2016.  Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring, was originally performed on stage in the early 40s, before being adapted for the silver screen in 1944 with Cary Grant in the lead role of Mortimer Brewster. The CTC cast includes Remy Brannon, Peter Byrne, Val Case, Seamus Curtain Magee, Daniel Keohan, Bronwyn Lamb, Gus Saunders, Michael Treloar, David Watson, Hamish Whitcroft McGlade and Briega Young.

Just wanted to let you all know how much I enjoyed the production. It was outstanding. Brilliant accents, great timing, a real balance between all the roles and you carried the humour with a gentle deft touch. I felt transported to the era. A wonderful experience. Thanks to all the cast and crew” Audience member

About the Play

It’s a spooky slapstick comedy, not exactly a ‘whodunnit’ (because we know who’s doin’ it) about a pair of sweet old maiden aunts who have taken it upon themselves to put lonely old gentlemen out of their misery by poisoning them with a very special home brew – they view it as a kind of public service. They are members of a somewhat eccentric family, the Brewsters, which includes a nephew Teddy, who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, another nephew (our hapless hero, Mortimer), a reluctant theatre critic, and another who is an outright psychopath and a dead ringer for Boris Karloff. Add various policemen and alcoholic henchmen, and we’re all set for a hilarious gothic romp!

Here’s our “old school” promo radio ad for Arsenic and Old Lace!


And here’s a ‘camp as a row of tents’ video clip…


The Ghost Train

by Arnold Ridely of 'Dad's Army' fame! Directed by John Rowland

Fr 9, Sat 10 (7.30pm) 11 Dec (2.30pm) 2016

The Ghost Train is coming to Faulder Watson Hall in Barker Street, Castlemaine for three shows only – Friday 9th and Saturday 10th December at 7:30 pm, and Sunday 11th December at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $20 / $15 concession. To book your tickets head to our Ticket Sales page and follow the links.

Take eight actors, two microphones, and an assortment of doors, sandbags, bird whistles, cabbages -and the power of imagination – and discover the magic of radio theatre with Castlemaine Theatre Company’s upcoming show, The Ghost Train. Difficult as it may be to imagine, prior to the arrival of TV and the world wide web, radio theatre was the leading form of home entertainment. Often recorded live in front of a studio audience and broadcast to the nation, in radio theatre actors had only their voices to bring characters to life. A small crew performing live sound effects created an atmosphere that kept audiences captivated.

For its first venture into the world radio theatre, CTC has chosen The Ghost Train, a classic radio thriller written in 1923 by English actor and playwright, Arnold Ridley, who is best known for his portrayal of Private Godfrey in the British sitcom Dad’s Army. Set in the waiting room of a remote railway station in rural England, a group of rail passengers stranded overnight are faced with the spectre of a phantom locomotive said to haunt the line, leaving death in its wake. Naturally, all is not as it seems!

Charged with bringing The Ghost Train to the radio theatre stage is CTC guest director, John Rowland. In a broadcasting career of over 40 years, John has of produced and directed countless radio plays in both England and Australia, working with many legendary actors of stage and screen. Lending their voices to The Ghost Train’s cast of colourful characters are newcomer Gus Saunders, as well as familiar CTC faces Michael McMahon and Louise Osland (both last seen in Monkey and the Monk) and Donna Steven (Playhouse Creatures, Aftershocks, The Donohue Sisters). We also welcome the return of Vyv Rodnight (Aftershocks), and Stephen Mitchell and Daniel Keohan who brought their own shows to CTC’s New Blood season in 2012. We are also thrilled to welcome back Three’s a Crowd actor Michael Treloar, who last performed with CTC as a teenager back in the 1980s!



The Peach Season

A contemporary Australian play evoking the heat, scent and hard slog of a peach farm at harvest time.

Apr 29, 30, May 1, 6, 7 and 8, 13, 14 and 15 2016

by Debra Oswald

directed by Rob Jorritsma

Castlemaine Town Hall, April 29-May 15 2016

Cast: April Bevin, Seamus Curtain-Magee, Bronwyn Lamb, Izrael Little, Sebastian Marshall, Clare Shamier

After the fatal shooting of her husband in a service station hold-up, Celia has shut herself and her 16-year-old daughter Zoë away, toiling on a peach farm in the middle of nowhere. When a desperate brother and sister turn up looking for picking work, it’s the beginning of the end for Celia’s safe existence.

Her daughter falls in love with enigmatic, erratic Kieran, but when the relationship is threatened, they run away together. The safe, perhaps smothering, world that Celia has created unravels; her paranoia and insecurities amplified to full volume. Playing out alongside her fear, we see the increasingly degrading and dangerous lifestyle that the two elopers have fallen into.

Peach Season is a powerful, salutary tale showing what it’s like to be a young person desperate for independence, but also, crucially, what it’s like to be a parent during the painful process of letting children fly the nest.

From the Director:

“Having a deep love of the classics, be it Greek tragedy or Shakespeare, I asked myself why I wanted to do Debra Oswald’s Peach Season. This is what I wrote in my journal: because it’s an Australian play. The script had been on my shelf for quite some time before I actually read it. I was instantly blown away. This was the play I wanted to do. It’s about personal relationships between the six characters: mother-daughter, first love, brother-sister, immigrants, drug use, crime, it’s all there; personal stories but recounting big themes.

For the last 15 years, theatre has been at the centre of my world. I finished a post-graduate degree in Theatre Studies, I worked with a community group called The Waldorf Players, bringing plays to the stage that excited us. At my work I directed a series of Shakespeare plays with year 8 students. I assisted in the background with the last two Castlemaine Theatre Company shows and now it’s time for my director’s debut with CTC”





Louis Nowra's Australian Favourite

April 9 (Preview), 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

by Louis Nowra, directed by Ron Moore

Phee Broadway Theatre, 9, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26 April 2015

“Oh my god, I almost wet my pants!” – Cosi audience member

Our first show of the year was an Australian favourite, Cosi by Louis Nowra, written in 1992. This popular black comedy has become a mainstay for community theatre both because of it’s large cast with a variety ages, and good balance of gender roles, and because it reveals the drama of creating theatre from the ground up with limited resources, against the odds. The play is set in 1971 against the background of the Vietnam War, in a Melbourne mental institution. A young director, Lewis (the character is based on Nowra) has been charged with producing a play with the patients, as part of a therapeutic program ‘to get them out of their shells’. One of the patients Roy has decided that the play they will produce is Mozart’s comic opera, Cosi Fan Tutte. None of the patients can speak Italian, much less sing – indeed, some can barely speak. To make matters worse the venue is a fire-gutted theatre with a leaky roof and faulty wiring. The cast includes a pyromaniac, a junkie, a knife-wielding romantic, a confused realist, a Lithium-addicted pianist who hates Mozart and a stuttering ex-lawyer who refuses to take part in the production. Lewis, needless to say is slightly discouraged by the task at hand. Nowra’s humour exposes weakness and stupidity, it ridicules our prejudices and popular institutions, but it is not exploitative or gratuitous. Writer Frank Gauntlett has claimed that ‘when Louis Nowra places his fruitcake-rich, riotously funny, beautifully conceived play Cosi in a Melbourne madhouse, he has less to say about life within the rubber walls than without.’

Vinyl Vera’s Variety Show

MC Tim Ratcliffe hosts an evening of music, comedy, theatre sports, a quiz, prizes, auctions.....

29 November 2014

On Saturday 29 November MC Tim Ratcliffe and the lovely Vinyl Vera will be hosting the CTC’s inaugural fundraiser cabaret and vareity show. There’ll be acts, a stage and screen trivia quiz, prizes and fun for all

The fun starts at 7.30pm and the venue is the Castlemaine Senior Citizens Hall, next to the Phee Broadway on Mechanics Lane.

Tickets are $15 or $10 conc., and are available from Laura on 0412 887 835 or

Monkey and the Monk

Nov 27, 28, 29; Dec 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 2015

directed by Kate Stones

The Making of Monkey and the Monk documentary film

Monkey and the Monk Learning Guide

“Absolutely superb production, loved every minute!” Vyv Rodnight

“Fanstastic!!!! Sooo funny, sooo wise and sooo visually delicious and the casting was perfect!!!!!” Miss Evie Danger

cast: Yen Kong (Monkey), Michael Gillies Smith (Tripitaka), Morgan Kurrajong (Pigsy), Michael McMahon (Sandy), April Bevin (Kwan Yin), Peter Bevin (Jade Emperor), Kate Stones (Buddha), Ron Moore (Yama King of Death), Laura Hall-Levetan (Mother Demon), Louise Osland (Dragon Queen)

Performance Dates: Nov 27, 28, 29; Dec 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 2015 (Fridays 7pm, Saturdays and Sundays 2pm)

Venue: Castlemaine Town Hall, Lyttleton Street, Castlemaine

Serious Monkey Business

The Castlemaine Theatre Company’s production ‘Monkey and the Monk’ is a re-telling of a traditional Chinese legend, made famous in the 1980s by the Japanese TV series Monkey Magic, which achieved global cult status. Monkey and the Monk is a new kind of project for the CTC, with an expanded scope. We are working with 2 local youth organisations, local musicians Charles Affleck and Patrick Killeen have been commissioned to write an original score, director Kate Stones is creating an Education Program to accompany the show, and local film maker Karen McMullen is making a documentary of the process. The above Learning Guide document is part of the education program, and includes detailed background information and history about the story.

The Story of Monkey and the Journey West

The story originates from the true tale of Hsuan Tsang, a Chinese academic who travelled to India to bring back Buddhist scriptures, which he devoted his life to translating. He became a folk hero in China, and by the time his story was finally written down in the sixteenth century, he had acquired a band of trusty disciples to protect him on his journey in the form of the irrepressible Monkey (a streetwise, rebellious ape with a taste for a good fight and a dream of immortality and fame); Pigsy (a round fellow with a love of food and pleasure, the ‘Friar Tuck’ of the tale who most often ends up carrying the bags); and Sandy (a water spirit who waxes poetic and philosophic, dry and depressive – like Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh). The four pilgrims set out to bring back sacred scriptures from the Western Heaven (India), assisted by Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, along the way they fight demons and joke and argue constantly with each other. Monkey and the Monk is our very own home grown version of the story, adapted and directed by Kate Stones and featuring original music by Charles Affleck and Patrick Killeen, performances by the students of the Castlemaine Youth Theatre and the Omiokiri Karate School, with help from guest choreographers Sarah Cook and Flynn Patrao (Xtreme Inc/Movement Zone).


Tripitaka, A Youthful Buddhist Monk. Physically vulnerable, a bit pathetic, at times annoyingly pedantic on Buddhist Teachings, deeply committed to non-violence, ruthless when necessary.

Monkey, Sun Wu K’ung, King of the Monkeys, skilled in magic arts, irrepressible, anarchic, protective, streetwise, loves fighting demons, pursuing immortality.

Pigsy, a pig spirit who loves food, women, comfort, lazy-minded but always ends up doing the hard work, very physically strong.

Sandy, an erstwhile cannibalistic water demon, is on the road to reformation along with his companions. Sandy is like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh – poetic, thoughtful, philosophical, a glass half empty kind of guy.

Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, wise and well, compassionate

The Jade King, Emperor of Heaven, a bureaucrat who doesn’t like to be interrupted at tea time

Tathagatha Buddha, the boss of everything

Yama King of Death, the boss of the Underworld

Playhouse Creatures

A contemporary script by April de Angelis about the very first women actors to perform on the London stage during the Restoration period - the reign of Charles II in the 1660s.


Directed by Kenneth MacLeod

with (in order of appearance) Kate Stones; Zenith Flume; Tiffany Naughton; Donna Steven; and Bridget Haylock.

A contemporary script by April de Angelis about the very first women actors to perform on the London stage during the Restoration period – the reign of Charles II in the 1660s.


“ ‘tis as hard a matter for a pretty woman to keep herself honest in the Theatre, as ‘tis for an apothecary to keep his treacle from the flies in hot weather – for every Libertine in the audience will be buzzing about her Honey-Pot.” Thomas Brown, 17th Century writer

London, 1669 – Bon vivant and culture vulture Charles II has restored the monarchy to England after decades of puritanical Commonwealth rule under Oliver Cromwell. He ushers in an era of unprecedented religious tolerance, artistic freedom and cultural enlightenment. One of his first bold moves is to permit women to tread the boards of London’s theatres for the very first time.

Join us backstage at the King’s Theatre, to witness the precarious lives of four of London’s most famous early actresses, as their trajectory rises from the gutter to the stars and back again. The most notorious amongst them is the riotous Nelly Gwyn who goes on to become the King’s favourite mistress…but sadly not all are as fortunate as she….

Historical Context

First performed in 1993, Playhouse Creatures, by English dramatist April D’Angelis, offers a darkly comic glimpse into the lives and careers of some of the first actresses granted licence to perform professionally on the English stage. Set in London during the period which became known as the English Restoration, Playhouse Creatures brings together four of the period’s first women of the stage – Mary Betterton, Rebecca Marshall, Elizabeth Farley and Nell Gwynne – in a colourful portrait of late 17th century theatre.

Prior to the reinstatement of the Catholic monarchy in 1660 under Charles II, England had endured eleven years of rigid social and religious Commonwealth rule under Oliver Cromwell. All theatres had been closed or destroyed well before Cromwell succeeded in taking power, with puritan Protestant sentiment deeming all ‘’entertainments’’ to be a threat to public order in such troubled times.

Having spent the years of Commonwealth rule living it up in self-imposed European exile, upon his return to the throne, pleasure-seeking aesthete Charles II immediately sought to reignite the cultural passions of English society, issuing Royal Patents to two of his staunchest followers to open new theatres. Given exclusive rights to stage plays for profit, the King’s and Duke’s companies were formed in London’s West End, creating an impenetrable duopoly and becoming fierce rivals for the patronage of largely aristocratic audiences.

Up until the closure of English theatres in 1642, all women’s parts had been played by ‘boy players’. While in exile, Charles had developed a taste for a more sophisticated European style of theatre, and was particularly beguiled by the sight of women on stage. In late 1660, Charles II issued a proclamation that all women’s roles would henceforth be performed women. The impact was immediate, with curious audiences turning out in droves to witness the spectacle of women on public display.

The presence of actual women on stage brought an expectation of eroticism, and contemporary playwrights were quick to exploit an actress’s obvious charms. “Couch scenes” in which an alluring young actress would be placed centre stage on a bed or couch seemingly asleep and in a state of undress became commonplace. Rape scenes also became a prominent feature, allowing female characters to retain their virtue whilst gratifying an audience’s desire for sexual titillation. “Breeches” roles which required women to dress as men also became popular, giving audiences an opportunity to admire a shapely leg sheathed in tight leggings.

Not surprisingly, this blatant objectification of women on stage served to fuel the widespread assumption that any woman who chose to display herself on a public stage was most likely a “whore”, and it was widely considered that acting was a profession which no respectable woman would ever pursue. In Playhouse Creatures, we see how the culture of the court helped to fuel the boorish behaviour directed at actresses. Charles II himself took orange-seller turned actress, Nell Gwynne, as one of his many long-term mistresses, eventually persuading her to abandon a highly successful career in favour of a townhouse, and later two children and a fatal dose of syphilis. Rebecca Marshall, whose story is also explored in the play, twice took her outrage at the treatment she received at the hands of various earls and gentlemen to the King, hoping to secure protection from unwanted advances.

At a time when we take for granted the rights of women to perform, write and direct; to own and manage theatres, Playhouse Creatures offers a lively account of the ways in which Restoration actresses fought for financial independence and the right to be respected as legitimate actors.

Please be aware that Playhouse Creatures contains some adult themes, earthy language and partial nudity.


by Paul Brown and the Newcastle Workers Committee, directed by Tricia O'Hara

24 May - 9 June 2013

New Blood

A mini festival of first time directors tackling short plays

June 22-July 1 2012

May/June 2012

Challenged – A trilogy

Three short plays written and directed by Ian Nash

19 and 20 Feb 2011, Welshmans Reef Winery, Newtsead-Maldon Road

Challenged is a trilogy of short plays, Bonnie, Kaaris and Tapestries, with a focus on disability. Bonnie has been the mother and full-time carer of her now 43 year old brain-damaged daughter for more that three decades; Kaaris is an imaginative, middle-aged woman who, at 150kgs, seeks release from the virtual prison of her own flesh; Suzy and Rita, long-time residents of a community house for the disabled, discover, when all else fails the need for faith in each other.

Writer/director Ian Nash has an interest in giving voice to characters who are in some way marginalised. His recent works make a study of women who do not conform to traditional expectations of stereotypical female behaviour. A graduate of Stanford University Creative Writing Centre, Ian is the author of many plays including A Boy For Me, A Girl For You (Melbourne Theatre Company), Burnout (The Open Stage, Melbourne University), Little Eva (Carlton Courthouse), Show of Strength, Stone Talk and Horse Talk (La Mama). In 2010 Ian directed Tapestries for the Castlemaine Theatre Company.

In 2010 Tapestries, part of the Challenged trilogy, toured the One-Act Play Festivals in Regional Victoria, where it enjoyed considerable success. Tapestries gained nominations in the Best Original Play, Best Director and Best Overall Production categories, whilst its performers, Anna Davies and Bev Geldard achieved Best Actress awards at the Ballarat and Anglesea Festivals. Associate Professor Kim Durban from the University of Ballarat commented that Tapestries ‘invokes the cry of the soul’ and that Nash handled the subject matter with ‘heart and compassion’.

Tickets are $15 full price and $12 concession. Limited seats are available so please book in advance at Newstead Rural Transaction Centre on 5476 2360. Tickets will also be available at the door. Coffee, cake and wine will be available before and between the performances.

Challenged is generously supported by Maldon and District Community Bank.


Nov 2010

Directed by Kenneth MacLeod

“scary and comical…confronting and suspenseful. Everyone who is old enough should see CTC’s production…a great story and it gets you thinking” Emlyn Johnson, Castlemaine Independent