Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Theatre: Deckchair folds

Rose Parker sings for the diggers: the 2001 Len Hall Game
It's tragic to hear of the demise of Deckchair Theatre, for thirty years a Fremantle institution and a unique and important part of the fabric of theatre in WA.
Like everyone, I'm grateful for the scores of original works, many about the history of Western Australia and the characters that peopled it, it commissioned and produced, and the terrific productions and performances it gifted us.
I have a personal reason to be grateful for Deckchair's commitment to Fremantle, and a special reason to record its passing. For seven years I worked with Deckchair on the Dockers' Len Hall Game ceremonies and a host of other presentations on Fremantle Football Club match days and other events. Some of those productions – the 1999 Vietnam and 2001 Kokoda Trail/ Tobruk tributes, the three-part Sense of Place series about Fremantle's identity (the first time the Australia Council had directly funded a sporting club) and the season opening 2001: a Football Odyssey, which was without doubt the best thing in the club's annus horribilis – will always be remembered. Along the way the club and the theatre company won state and national awards for their work together, but, more importantly, helped create that difference about the Dockers that contributed mightily to its ability to withstand the bad times and prosper in the good.
With Deckchair now gone, and the threat of the Dockers heading off to a shopping centre in distant Cockburn seeming more real every day, these are worrying times at the port. Let's hope the old girl lifts up her skirts and does some high kicking again soon!
My commiserations to Phil Thompson, Angela Chaplin, Chris Bendall and all the creative people who did such great work at Deckchair; the admirable Barry Strickland, David Gerrand, Rose Lenzo and everyone else who put in the hard yards in the back office and board of the company. A job very well done.       

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