Photos – Kate Holmes
Sitting in the A&I Hall in Bangalow on a Thursday night, watching the theatre-punters coming through the doors, to this sold-out-well-in-advance performance of Dreamland, and my thoughts begin to wander. How many times have I been to this Hall, in various incarnations over the plenitude of my years? I recognise so many of the faces walking through these doors, but are they familiar or do they just remind me of people I once worked with, played with, evolved with or just shared the same air? Local Halls are like that – so many stories, old and new, from way back when and still supporting the ‘now’. Everyone has their own memories and mine start to flood in…
Opening scenes are set and the choreography of the ‘tea ceremony’ with the Committee members deliberating about “no bookings” collects the audience in the palm of their hands – they will not be letting go of us until the final note! Enter ‘newbie’ Jason and we are anchored, one and all, to the vignettes that follow. Hire of the Hall; conditions and expectations; past history unfolding through seamless acting/music/dance and song … “Meet me tonight in Dreamland …” MC cues the band and we are off and running. The guardians of the Hall pose the question, “Do you know how this hall came to be here?” Memories are lain at our community feet and judging by the overwhelming audience response to individual stories, there is something for everyone.
Sublime choreography and hair-breath antics (what they can do with axes is awesome) with this physical theatre gets our audience-heart a pumping. The musicality is part-and-parcel of this riveting show and I am impressed, all over again, how this story can/would relate to any of the local halls that abound in this area. Connection to community is displayed in all its glory, with tears, laughter and a band that satisfies on every level. Reminiscing, “I’ve seen what happens when you hold onto things too long… what to do with your dreams when you wake up?” The “proper dancing” theme reminds us all of days gone by (well, my age group, anyway!) and the dance lessons (a miracle in motion) live music (did I mention how EXCELLENT this band is?) gets us all up onto the centre-stage dance floor – part of the interactivity of this well-devised performance. My partner and I were invited up (put my pen and paper down) and we tripped the light fantastic – a surprise treat indeed.
The time-line of the Hall, through comedy, tragedy, farmers, families, hippies, tree-changers and ‘blow-ins’ unfolds – all too real and all very poignant. Scenes are woven with the choreography of hope and love. The wheelchair embrace brought a tear to my eye and Foxy Lady (Hendrix eat your heart out) made my heart skip a beat. New meets old and “people who are searching are still searching” as life, through the Hall, continues.
To quote Julian Louis (Director), “small country halls are repositories of local history. As a group of creative artists we have taken commonplace stories, characters and fragments of history and heightened and fictionalised them. Dreamland is an impressionistic rendering of a particular place and time to give expression to universal themes in an entertaining way… Through the agency of these ghosts we are plunged into stories of love, of loneliness and engage with the changing nature of community.” He goes on to thank the Eureka community “who gave their time to this project in its original form.” Dreamland was a sell-out success in 2016 as part of ‘If These Halls Could Talk’ initiative, and Dreamland translates, so wonderfully well, to the A&I Hall, with adjustments and ‘tweakage’. As Janis Balodis (Writer) says, “Ladies select your partners… and enjoy the dance”. I know I did!
HOUSEKEEPING AT THE HALL (gotta get your bond back!)
NORPA makes theatre from the ground up and only fitting to praise the Creative Team who unfailingly brings us world-quality theatre to our front door. Let’s start:
Directed and Devised by Julian Louis; Written and Devised by Janis Balodis; Performed and Devised by Phil Blackman, Darcy Grant, Katia Molino, Kirk Page and Toni Scanlon; Musical Director Barry Hill (double bass, guitar); Musicians (all awesome) Angus Fletcher (drums) Hugo Jones (keyboard) Sue Simpson (violin, trombone and saw) Jamie Birrell (double bass). Karl Johnson (Lighting Designer) William Kutana (Costume Designer).
Devised Julian Louis, Janis Balodis, Phil Blackman, Darcy Grant, Katia Molino, Kirk Page and Toni Scanlon
Director Julian Louis
Venue: Bangalow A&I Hall | Station St, Bangalow NSW
Dates: 15 May – 1 June 2019
Tickets: $20 – $49