For local theatre to play an important role in the life of a community, practitioners must ask themselves a number of pertinent questions:
Given the limitations, is it possible to create community theatre that is truly engaging; theatre that is both entertaining and artistically satisfying for audiences? Is it possible to produce local theatre that is complex, meaningful and beautiful; that sweeps us up, educates, challenges, inspires and cruels us, makes us smile; if not laugh, even weep?
Is intelligence and artistic sensibility the sole domain of the professional theatre companies located in the big cities? Can local theatre compete, or, then again, does it need to compete, with the myriad other ‘entertainments’ out there in our market-driven world, particularly those in the digital domain?
These are some of the questions at play in the minds of members of a new theatre group in Byron, The Theatre Project. Directed by Robert Owens, the group has been adapting and rehearsing the great Spanish play The House Of Bernarda Alba by Garcia Lorca for the better part of the year, searching for theatrical ways to express the absurd, the contradictions, the sheer beauty and horror of the mundane and the sublime that permeates this classic tragedy.
The play tells of a family ruled by the domineering matriarch, Bernarda Alba. Her five unmarried adult daughters are not beyond desire, yet are shackled by the severe restrictions placed on them by Bernarda and the social and moral mores that dominate life, particularly for women, in the village in which they live.
The youngest, Adela, confronts these constraints head on when she and her sisters fall in love with the handsome Pepe El Ramono. It is a beautiful and complex narrative with deep poetic nuances.
The Theatre Project invites local audiences who might share its passion and philosophy to come and see the play and meet for coffee after. Yes they need, like everyone, financial help, but they also need practitioners who want to explore the questions outlined above.
‘We want to meet people who might be interested in something more,’ says Owens. ‘A theatre that calls upon them to stretch beyond the comfortable and the mediocre. In short, people who want to explore what it means to be an artist in the theatre. The Theatre Project hopes to develop and grow over time and become a major force in the artistic life of the Byron Shire community.
The Lorca Project is being produced in The Performing Arts Centre at Byron Bay High School.
‘We thank the P&C and school principal, Peter King, for their support,’ says Owens. ‘The company has invited students to attend rehearsals and meet and talk to the actors, designers, technicians, musicians and others involved in the production. We trust that our presence in the school will inspire the students to reach even higher in their own artistic endeavours.’
The House of Bernarda Alba – by F Garcia Lorca, adapted and directed by Robert Owens
The Performing Arts Centre, Byron Bay High School
Thursday December 5 and Friday December 6 at 8pm
Tickets on sale at: Santos Mullumbimby and Byron Bay
Cost: $15 and $20
Please note: The number of tickets available is very limited.