Local audiences have a chance to see one of David Williamson’s most acclaimed and moving plays when Phoenix Ensemble presents After The Ball over four weekends in June.
Director Maria Grills has assembled an exceptional cast of Phoenix regulars and dynamic newcomers to bring to life this acclaimed drama, which offers a frank, critical look at Australian suburban family life in the 1960s and 1990s.
At turns torturous and hilarious, it traces the aspirations, disappointments and realities that test family life at a time of bewildering social change.
It’s the story of Stephen, who reluctantly returns home to his mother’s deathbed. As he and his sister rake through the family photographs and childhood memories, they find conflicting versions of their parent’s unhappy marriage.
Maria says while the play is set in the 60s and 90s, it could just as easily be set today.
“The major themes are still so relevant: social issues of justice and equality, and people’s external reactions to issues raised and actions taken by our governments and those who hold positions of power.
“And the issues within the family are also not isolated to the period of the play. We still have issues of our children chasing dreams, leaving home, the sense of responsibility toward family, all being played out in homes today. I look at characters within After the Ball and see myself, my parents, my siblings…”
Maria’s love for Australian plays dates back to her youth, when she left Australia to chase her dreams. “Like so many performers and young people in the 60s, I headed to England to find what it was I was looking for. After five wonderful years I returned home, only to find that here was the most fabulous place to live, and we had writers and performers as good as – if not better than – many I had come across overseas.”
She said David Williamson’s pieces were a “welcome home” gift to herself, because in them, she found an Australia she could relate to.
“I could see the dynamics of family and interactions between characters that I could witness any day of the week in my own family and those of friends.”
For that reasons, After the Ball offers something for audiences of all ages.
“I truly believe that nearly everyone who sees it will recognise something of themselves, or someone they know. They will laugh through the play, and leave the theatre in the tears. As one of my players said: ‘If we get this right, it could be a two or three hanky job!’.”
The intimate Pavilion Theatre (in the Beenleigh Showgrounds) is the perfect environment in which to experience a work by Australia’s best known playwright, whose ability to tap into the Australian psyche has impressed audiences for more than four decades.
After the Ball is a must for fans of quality Australian drama. Tickets are on sale now.
Venue: Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh
7.30pm: 1, 2, 9, 10, 15, 16, 22, 23 June
Tickets: $24 adult; $20 concession
Kate (the older) Jo Castle
Kate (the younger) Janice Hancock
Judy (the older) Heather Scott
Judy (the younger) Briana Thompson
Stephen (the older) Steve Pearton
Stephen (the younger) David Sigston
Ron Kevin Doyle
Claire Marie Ortquist
Maureen Sue Matley