Spreading like Wildfire

Macbeth | Wildfire TheatreIt was Sandra Stockley’s bright spark, which ignited Wildfire Theatre Company less than a year ago… and there is no shortage of theatrical fodder to fuel the flames. Despite her sophisticated and calm demeanour, Stockley’s passion for theatre is anything but. As an actor, frustrated by working on other people’s projects and tired of waiting for shows to materialize, Stockley took matters into her own hands and began to develop a theatre company which would allow her to call the shots: to choose the projects, to enable her to approach people she is interested in collaborating with to create a unique, imaginative theatrical experience.

Inspired by her performance training and experience in Europe, Stockley hopes to bring Sydney (and eventually Australian) audiences access to performance styles and approaches to theatre that are not necessarily regularly taught in Australian training institutions. “A lot of [theatre] spaces [in Sydney] do not lend themselves to the type of physical based theatre I have experienced in say, France… because the spaces here are so intimate the style of theatre has a closeness, more like television, than theatre.” Stockley, between sips of peppermint tea, speaks about the need to create work which exists “outside of the normal world” and which contains ideas that embrace large scale spectacle and “explode the inside, out.” It is easy to see that her ideas are ambitious and invigorated with an aesthetic embracing adventure and imagination.

Earlier this year Wildfire Theatre Company presented Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane directed by Maeliosa Stafford at The Seymour Centre which was greeted with critical acclaim. The review from the Daily Telegraph stated:
“Just when independent theatre was looking jaded along comes this little gem of a production. It’s an auspicious debut for the newly formed Wildfire Theatre, which has opened with the kind of taut theatre we would all love to see more often.” A precedent which has set the bar high for Wildfire Theatre Company’s next production: the scottish play.
{xtypo_quote_right}...because the spaces here are so intimate the style of theatre has a closeness, more like television, than theatre{/xtypo_quote_right}
Transferring techniques she experienced as a performer in France with École de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq and her training with Philippe Genty and in London with Theatre de Complicite, Stockley has turned her hand to directing Wildfire Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth, opening at The Cell Block Theatre this Friday. Relaying this style and aesthetic to the cast of Macbeth has been a wonderful “artistic challenge” to face and is made easy by her ”hugely talented” cast. Her bravery mounting a show as large as Macbeth in a space not regularly used as a theatre is impressive. When I ask her about the magnitude of this, her Australian directorial debut, she seems genuinely at home, “having previously played Lady Macbeth in 2000 I felt extremely comfortable with the text, with the language and the characters and how to cut it.”

With a dedicated cast and a passionate crew including Set Designer Barry French and costume designer Clare de Mayo, Stockley talks freely about her collaborative process directing Macbeth, and also about “managing the ideas and the experience and keeping the reigns on the play, especially working with a cast who haven’t worked together for a long time. Trying to get your ideas across to people who have not ever seen a show like the one you are trying to create it is a real challenge… especially when everyone has an idea about what the meaning of the play is or what acting is.” Drawing on her experience on the otheMacbeth | Wildfire Theatrer side of the footlights, Stockley’s directorial process is composed not necessarily of the process she does have, but rather processes which she refuses to have. Having experience as an actor, she is aware of the particular and unique qualities actors bring to a text and also the fragility and difficulty actors face sometimes in auditions and in rehearsals. Armed with this knowledge, having had the shoe on the other foot, she says she appreciates directors in a different light. “Directors are always on, they don’t have any breaks, and they are holding the reigns for the whole show, even if there is a break in rehearsal the costume designer might have a question about this, or the designer wants to know about that…” It is clear that Sandra Stockley, is “on” and will continue to be “on” in many capacities as Wildfire grows in her wake.


Wildfire Theatre Company's production of Macbeth is now playing. For further details, click here»



Images: -
Top Right - Brendon McDonall and Chris Truswell
Bottom Right - Rachel McNamara
Photos - Fiona King

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