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April 17, 2021

Interview with Richard Vinycomb about the play, ‘Extinction’

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Richard Vinycomb, Director of’ ‘Exctinction’, a Byron Writers Festival event.


The Drill Hall Mullumbimby  |  2–18 August, Friday & Saturdays 7.30pm  |  Sundays 11 & 18 August 2pm  |  $32/40

Edgy, Provocative, funny… that’s how Extinction has been described. This is Australian Contemporary Theatre at its best. The Echo spoke with Richard Vinycomb, the play’s director, about the latest production at the Drill Hall.

What is Extinction about?

It’s about efforts to protect our native wildlife amidst threats to our human relationships, when we live without awareness and sensitivity. Through this dramatic topic is woven the clever use of humour among four vastly different characters.

What are the broader themes?

The menace of natural-resource exploitation and the threat it poses to native flora and fauna. It’s about protecting our biodiversity in nature as well as in our personal relationships. It considers how the scientific approach to solving problems can sit uncomfortably with behaviour and the overwhelming power of global market forces. It is very relevant to what is happening in our current political environment. It’s also a beautifully written play of hope and light. It challenges, reflects, and gives us ideas to shape our own views.

Why do you think it is timely or relevant to our area and the conversations and concerns of our local audience?

There is a young couple in the play who find it difficult to have hope about the future of the planet, who nevertheless challenge the blinkered and rigid beliefs of the older characters. In our local area there is a growing movement of young people who are rejecting that extinction is inevitable, through their participation in the new global movement Extinction Rebellion.

How have you tackled the staging?

Our designer is the wonderful local artist James Guppy, who has created a strong sense of the forest setting, as well as the interior locations through colour and real images. The set is like moving canvasses between scenes. It is another layer to the story. Live music invites the audience into the drama, to enliven Hannie’s cleverly written play.

When you are directing how do you work to get performances out of people?

Choosing the right cast is fundamental! We are so fortunate to have these talented committed actors – Avikal, Cate, James, and Diva – living locally. Then there is the facilitation of enjoyment in the rehearsal process, so that the actors are free to explore character and relationships, while honouring the playwright’s intent. And finally, I am a mirror, polishing their skills on the stage to be inclusive of the audience.

What do you think is the most powerful aspect of this production?

This play speaks to all of us now; it’s a story of our times. Hannie’s dialogues are fast moving, powerful, and at times very funny. There are unexpected twists.

What can people expect at the local shows?

There is great diversity in this production. I am hoping that there will be a whole range of differing experiences from seeing this play, for many different reasons. It’s also a great outing supporting local creativity. The Drill Hall in Mullumbimby is having a popularity resurgence. There’s a choice of nine shows including evenings and matinees, and there will be delicious refreshments available. It’s an intimate space so book early at www.drillhalltheatre.org.au. Not suitable for children under 12.

How are you engaging Hannie Rayson, the playwright?

I came across this script last summer, and remembered Hannie from drama school days in Melbourne. Over the years I have followed her writing career and loved many of her plays, with Hotel Sorrento my favourite. When I contacted Hannie she was delighted that I wanted to do a Northern Rivers production.

I then felt it appropriate, as this is also a Byron Bay Writers Festival satellite event, to invite her to come to see our version of the show and to participate in a Q&A on Sun 4 August. People can book for this special night and all the other shows from 2 till 18 August through the Drill Hall Theatre website, or pop in to Mullum Books.


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