From humble beginnings in 1985, Brisbane-based Harvest Rain Theatre Company has grown to become one of the largest independent theatre companies in Australia.
In 2009, they leave behind their home of 23 years at Sydney Street Theatre and embark on a new journey as resident company at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Australian Stage’s Tamara Whyte spoke to Harvest Rain’s Artistic Director, Tim O’Connor.
You are about to embark on a new journey as a resident company with QPAC. Can you tell us how this offer from QPAC came about?
At the start of 2008, we knew that our time at Sydney Street was coming to an end and that our lease would run out by the end of the year. So we were looking down the barrel of being homeless. I contacted John Kotzas at QPAC about possibly hiring one of their venues to perform in, but after discussions with him he offered us the opportunity to present shows in partnership with QPAC. It’s a really great opportunity to work with all the wonderful people at QPAC – everyone has been very welcoming. It’s very exciting to be able to produce our work at one of the most respected theatre venues in the country.
In terms of production and artistic direction what does this mean for Harvest Rain?
Harvest Rain still has complete control over its creative production – QPAC is merely providing us with a venue to present our work in. I think some people have mistakenly thought that we have sold our souls to QPAC or something, but this is not the case. Its really more a situation where QPAC has decided to help us out by providing us with their great venue, and we will return the favour by providing them with great shows that their audiences will love to see!
How do you envisage your training facilities at Mina Parade will complement this?
Training is a big part of what we do. Over the last 20 years, more than 3,000 young people have come and trained at Harvest Rain, and with our full time internships starting in 2009 that number will continue growing. The Mina Parade Warehouse is a great space for rehearsing and creating work, and it will not only house our training programs but also our rehearsals for our main house shows. It’s a fantastic big space!
Tim, for you as Artistic Director and CEO of Harvest Rain, how do you summarise the journey for the company to date?
How do you summarise 23 years? Let me try….
The company started as a small drama group and over a quarter of a century it very accidentally grew into one of the biggest theatre companies in Queensland. By the end of the 90’s, Harvest Rain had become well known as a launching pad for emerging artists and over the last 10 years Harvest Rain has really established itself as one of the best places for emerging artists to start their careers in the arts. It’s been a roller coaster ride, and every day continues to be a challenge as we strive to find ways to financially fund this great big company!! But it’s the best fun. I have the best job in the world.
Harvest Rain's Divas is now playing until December 20. For further information: www.harvestrain.com.au