Townsville Little Theatre will kick off its 2017 theatre season with Sir Terry Pratchett’s classic Jingo performed from March 8 – 11.
Directors Eric Blyth and Pamela Gaerlan have been hard at work with a cast of Townsville’s most talented performers, and we caught up with Eric ahead of opening night to find out what’s in store.
What should first-time Terry Pratchett audiences expect?
Sir Terry Pratchett presents real-life situations in a satirical, comedic fashion. His Discworld novels and the plays adapted from them by Stephen Briggs present aspects of the human condition in a humorous way and in a world of science fantasy. The Discworld is carried on the backs of four elephants, standing, in turn, on the shell of a giant turtle travelling through space towards an unknown destination. When it arrives the turtle will meet with others in a mating ritual known as ‘the big bang theory’.
In Jingo the themes are national rivalry, xenophobia, cultural difference, cultural ignorance, and rearmament, all treated with a lack of political correctness!
Where does Jingo fit in the Discworld theme?
The Discworld is a vehicle for the presentation of elements of the human condition – so there is little sense of continuing themes. Other novels have explored the media, Shakespeare, death, the music industry, Australia, wizardry and soccer to mention a few. In Jingo an island arises from the ocean (think South China Sea) and ownership of it is claimed by two ethnic groups: the Ankh-Morporkians and the Klatchians (substitute West versus Middle East?). The situation is satirised as characters attempt to capitalise on the situation, or resolve it. Audiences might detect allusions to the assassination of JFK and Lawrence of Arabia! Pratchett’s lateral thinking creates these sorts of scenarios. Something to look for!!
How have rehearsals gone?
Well for the most part, but never as well as directors might wish. My co-director, Pamela Gaerlan, and I are thankful for the dedication shown by the cast, many of whom have been struck down by various bugs and sicknesses during the rehearsal period. A cast in excess of 25 is not easily manageable, given life’s other demands. We have enjoyed directing some newcomers to Townsville Little Theatre, and welcoming back some who have not been available for some time and for one reason or another. Amongst the newcomers are Harlee Timms as 71 Hr Ahmed, Lucy Gounaris as the Dis-Organiser and Miranda Weston who plays several roles. Amongst those returning are Kevin Wuth as Capt. Carrot, Fleur Hislop as Lady Sybil Ramkin, Sophie Stewart as Corporal Angua and Jacinta Ryan as Prince Cadram… Stephen Briggs is rather like Shakespeare in that gender is not a consideration when casting. Townsville Little Theatre follows the trend! Of the ‘regulars’ Alan Cooke returns as Lord Ventinari, Andy Carter is Commander Vimes, David Brooke-Taylor is Lord Rust and Dylan Megaw is Leonard of Quirm (a cross between Leonardi da Vinci and the original ‘Q’ from the Bond movies) and Marc Weston as Sergeant Detritus
Are there any standouts among the cast?
A performance is only as good as the combined cast and whilst some play larger roles than others and therefore standout by sheer force of presence the ensemble is the key. So I am inclined to say no! Due recognition is given to all other cast members not mentioned by name. Without their involvement there is no production!
There are others involved apart from the cast, Pamela and myself: Cheryl Smith and Gayle Herbener Robertson have worked on props, Jeff Neilsen and Tom Marks on sound, Ben Daly on lighting, Glenn Shield on set design and Pamela and Ava Ball on costumes. Thanks to all!
How does this compare to other productions you have been involved in?
Most clearly my position in the production is the biggest difference. Previously I have acted or occasionally assisted a director. This time my name is alongside Pamela’s on the program and in that respect alone it is the first experience of its kind for me.
What’s next for Pamela and yourself?
I can’t really speak for Pam; but no doubt we will both be involved in further Townsville Little Theatre productions in one capacity or another. One point of focus will be the continuing pursuit of establishing our own home! Currently TLT rehearses at PCYC at Castle hill and performs at PIMPAC. Plans are afoot to have our own HQ as it were but funding is the key issue. So sponsors and new members are always welcome. Why not come along and join us?
See Townsville Little Theatre’s Jingo at Pimlico Performing Arts Centre March 8-11. There are 7:30pm performances each night, as well as a 2pm matinee on Saturday. Get your tickets now.