Family scenes

Bendigo Theatre Company is premiering a locally written and produced play. CHRIS PEDLER writes

WRITER turned director Sue Walker is full of excitement and anticipation ahead of this week’s premiere of her play Turning Tables.

After submitting the script to friend Violetta Stoyanova for critiquing, Turning Tables was handed on to the Bendigo Theatre Company who promptly decided to put  the play on.

“It’s exciting and it’s a week away,” Ms Walker said.

“I have spent two years working on it. Almost two years to the day.

“I know it’s a lot faster than it usually would be (to get other plays on stage). I was just expecting to get it critiqued.”

BTC president John Trainor called Ms Walker two days  before her 50th birthday to give her the good news.

“I thought I was going to get 15 pages full of notes saying it’s got bones but this is wrong and this isn’t right,” Ms Walker said.

“Having seen people fleshing it out (on stage, I might have change a few things.”

Turning Tables focuses on the elderly Ettie Marney who is sick and preparing to pass away.

As Ettie’s family gathers around her, sibling rivalries flare up as they scramble to control her fortune.

Despite the play’s characters being a slightly older age demographic, the family dynamics are something most other families could relate to.

Ms Walker said the family is loosely based on her own but not the story itself.

“I tried to make it a bit light and airy, easy to digest and not too shallow,” she said.

This is also the first time Ms Walker has taken on a directing role, something that was a daunting task.

“It has been daunting, but I’ve been using John (Trainor) as a sort of director’s crutch,” she said.

“I wasn’t sure I’d be up to measure but because I wrote it, I know the back stories which is better than somebody coming in and reading it cold.

“It’s also mind blowing. I do describe it as humbling experience and it is because you watch the actors at different times and get so immersed in what they're doing with characters. I turn around and think ‘I wrote those words’.  It’s a real out of body experience.”

With limited amateur acting experience, Ms Walker recalls one of the first directors she worked with.

“Ross Reading was fantastic and did a lot of theatre in Melbourne in the 1970s,” she said.

“I learnt a lot from him as part of the Rheola Young Farmers Group and find myself sitting there thinking ‘what would Ross do?’”

Ms Walker has also been impressed with the Bendigo Theatre Company’s professional attitude. 

“They are a group of amateurs who come together with such a professional attitude,” she said.

“The actors are so good. It’s amazing they put hands up for it.”

As you would expect from someone who has been writing since she could hold a pen, Ms Walker shows no signs of slowing down.

It is clear that with this experience under her belt, she is eager to get back into the director’s chair again.

“Yeah, stand back world,” she said.

“I’m halfway through another play that is completely different to this one. It’s a tough subject treated with a light touch.”

“F. Scott Fitzgerald said ‘You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.’

“I had something to say about the Marney family and that was that not all old people have lost their marbles, and at some point you have to let go of rivalries.”

Turning Tables is on at the Bendigo Theatre  Company, 15-17 Allingham Street, Golden Square, on May 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8pm and May 18 at 2pm.

For tickets log on to www.bendigotheatrecompany.org 

See a gallery of the rehearsals  at www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au

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