My first theatre experience was on the stage as a three year old, dressed in a pixie costume and dancing. My parents often told the story of my precociousness, although I prefer to call it initiative, when having managed to get myself out of the dance line, I politely curtsied and poked out my tongue at the audience.
I think it was from that moment the theatre and the stage pulled me toward them, as a performer and more recently as an audience member. I love being taken to new worlds or seeing life interpreted in a new way through performances which have me laughing hysterically, moved to tears or just sitting quietly at the end of the show contemplating what I’ve just seen, which was the case with one of this year’s HotHouse productions ‘I Don’t Wanna Play House.’
In recent years some of my most memorable theatre experiences have come courtesy of HotHouse Theatre. Seeded from the Murray River Performing Group, the model for the company changed in the mid 1990’s from featuring mostly local artists and shows, to a company charged with bringing the best of contemporary Australian theatre to Albury-Wodonga at The Butter Factory Theatre on Gateway Island. This building once known for its production of premium dairy products from cows nourished from the grass roots around it saw the showcasing of some of the most innovative theatre in Australia. And it is truly Australian – our stories, our voices – as disparate and similar as they may be.
On Monday night HotHouse launched its 2011 Season which new artistic director, Jon Halpin describes as a ‘cracker’ and which will bring ‘Australian theatre royalty to town.’
This is the BIG thing with HotHouse: this company in the midst of us gives us the chance to have a theatre experience without the travel and accommodation costs at an affordable price in our own intimate theatre setting.
A smaller ticket price doesn’t mean compromising on quality. Attending a production at HotHouse is to attend a world class production which may also be seen by audiences in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and New York, but again, most importantly it is about seeing and hearing our stories.
For those who think modern theatre is not for them or inaccessible, I’d encourage you to think again. As with modern television and modern books, there is not a one-size-fits-all, and the 2011 season with its theme of ‘Let’s Play’ is a great example of this, offering perfect ‘tasters’ for the first time or once-bitten-twice shy theatregoer.
HotHouse is partnering with some of the elite of the Australian theatre industry, Malthouse and the Griffin Theatre companies, to bring the season including ‘an irreverent celebration of indigenous identity, a mad farce, a play of intense, barely contained poetic violence, a show about the universe, murderous magpies and one eyed taxi drivers and a genuine Italian fiasco’ and that’s just the main program.
The company is growing its commitment to our own theatre industry through the new program, The Studio which will provide twelve young local actors the chance to train weekly with HotHouse and perform in two shows. It will also continue the creative Month in the Country development program which gives individuals, fledgling and more established companies a chance to develop work in a space away from the madding crowd, and contributes to HotHouse’s reputation as one of the most important theatre companies in Australia.
HotHouse Theatre is ‘created locally recognised nationally’, but local recognition is an essential ingredient in its continued growth, so take up the invitation and play.