Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's Just a Stage


I'm going trad on this one this week. I love the theatre. Not so many moons ago, I had a season subscription for about four years with a very reputable theatre company here called the "Ensemble". It's a repertory theatre which featured a few regulars and a number of well-known Australian thespians, comedians, television and film actors. A bunch of us would lob up three or four times a year for the 5pm Matinee then book somewhere luscious for dinner and all in all it was a great night out but frankly, the fun stuff is the Amateur Theater.

We have three locally. One in Glenorie where one of Adam's Friends often 'sings' in the odd musical. Another very good one at Castle Hill where they even get a bit risque and produce plays such as Equus . . in teh nuddy and all but the piece de resistance is in Bilpin

Now Bilpin is hicksville with an edge. It's not near a city and it's not quite the Blue Mountains. It's hill country full of orchards and spelling paddocks but the locals are decidedly 'ocker', so much so that I catch myself counting their fingers and missing feet. It's in a time warp. Dental hygiene seems unknown and the mullet and flanellette shirt are mandatory.

The RSL is tiny and there's no 'paid' bar staff. Instead the locals take turns delivering cold beer, only two varieties, a small range of spirits, gin, vodka and whiskey and of course that Australian institution . . .boxes of 'goon' or red and white wine, usually sweet. Go in there and ask for a Fluffy Duck or a Black Russian and you'll be branded a 'poof' and quickly marched out the door.

So it's rather surprising that . . . half way up the mountain in a rather nicely appointed community hall nestled among the gum trees and apple orchards, being serenaded by bellbirds, the Bilpin Players not only put on a passable play but also a cheese platters on arrival (ok they use Jatz Biscuits and the Brie comes out of a can) a terrific roast dinner, the Aussie Pavlova and assorted 'dainties'. All the punters have to do is turn up with their BYO Wine and $25 buckaroos for a pretty decent night.

So it's not quite the Ensemble, certainly not the Sydney Theatre Company and not a patch on The Stables or Belvoir Street Theatre but it's fun, they're good, and there's always a giggle when someone forgets their lines and a muffled whisper from the sidelines fills in the gaps and corrects the mondegreens:

"Psst . . it's not 'constipated cross-eyed bear you twit!' . . .You mean 'A consecrated cross I'd bear!'

35 comments:

Bimbimbie said...

LOL mullet heads and flannelette shirts have been sighted in these parts - do you think they might be scouting for a local venue*!*

tut-tut said...

hello Baino! I remember seeing Equus on stage in NYC as a high schooler. Very very breath taking. Theatre is absolutely the best or the worst, depending, isn't it? And all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into any production, no matter what the outcome.

Ces said...

Well I am only familiar with Broadway but I am not really into the theater unless it's a musical and my sister does not like musicals. That bear looks stern though. Maybe it is a Bear Stearns?

laughingwolf said...

lol... sounds like my kinda place... and i prefer the "constipated cross-eyed bear" bit to the real line ;)

otin said...

That bar sounds like that one in Crocodile Dundee! LOL!

Brian Miller said...

ha. enough of the cold stuff and the lines start to make sense anyway. happy tt!

The Man at the Pub said...

Sounds like a fun night out. I'm thinking about getting into theatre.

Kath Lockett said...

Ah yes, amateur theatre. My mother was a costume maker and often a lead star in shows done by the Bridge Players. My little brother still has nightmares about her turn as an old crone in prison at the start of 'The Gondoliers'....

Poetikat said...

The holes in the wall often end up being the best spots. I laughed at your counting "fingers and toes".

Kat

Kris said...

God how I hate the theatre.

I am very strong on that! ;)

Ronda Laveen said...

This is too funny. Cross-eyed bear? Oh, my. So it sounds like math is required in Bilpin.

Ropi said...

At primary school Drama class was compulsory for one year. It was my longest year moreover we had to perform a stuff. I acted an iron fisted governor. I didn't manage to stay in office until the end of the story.
(Well in the Soviet Era environment protection wasn't important. On the other hand Kazakstan is not pioneer at environment protection, despite an ethnic group there is very close relative to Hungarians).

River said...

Brie from a can? A CAN??? Still, the roast dinner and pavlova probably make up for it. I've never been much of a theatre goer, I did go to a local theatre years ago a couple of times (comedy shows, I love to laugh), but not since then.

nick said...

I haven't been to an amateur theatre production since I was a local reporter in my teens. They were usually so dire I was put off them for life. But I can imagine that a passably-acted play with some good food, wine and company could be more enjoyable than a rather stuffy five-star performance with polite applause from the absurdly over-dressed.

Baino said...

Tsup*!* Bimbimbie, yeh you know the type! Salt of the earth but slightly inbred.

Hey Toots! Risque wasn't it? I wasn't quite expecting it to be so full on. I love the theatre, really miss it but it's out of my price range. I go to the odd blockbuster but I think the last thing I saw was the Lion King with the kids!

Now who's showing off "Broadway" indeed! There is no way on God's earth I wouldn't see at least two Broadway shows if I went to New York! I don't mind what sort of theatre frankly. Partial to the odd singalong, just don't take me to the Sound Of Music, I'm incorrigable.

Yeh it's all a hoot Wuffa and from what I gather they don't do 'serious' plays just farces and comedies so it all adds to the fun.

There are many of them Otin . .many of them. . Some still make women feel a little guilty for entering, especially in the country!

Definitely makes it bearable Brian!

You are Pubby? Good for you. I haven't got the memory for lines so I'd be the one getting the angry whispers from the sidelines.

Ah it's all good fun I guess and frankly this lot and the Castle Hill Players are pretty good.

One can never be too careful Kat . .Actually it's a pretty decent little theatre, warm, clean and the stage is elevated enough that it doesn't matter that there's no slope.

Kris . .you do? Really? I'm not a fan of Opera but the theatre I enjoy. So you don't take the boys to Wiggles concerts then or pantos?

Actually Ronda it's a weird place. There's the old toothless guard, then the yuppie 10 acre hobby farmers and even peoplewho build pretty flash places up there because it's a little cooler in the winter. Quite an eclectic mix!


Ropi you're in such a good mood this week! You would have been great as an iron fisted governer! Sad tho, rarely do they get to stay in office either!

Oh River, you know the sort I mean that awful Kraft stuff in a ring top can thingy. No nice King Island Phoques Cove! Not much of one myself these days. . too exe!

Cheap as chips Nick. Mind you we don't dress up for theatre here. Even at the opera house, its the Opera people who posh up. Jeans and T's are quite acceptible for even the most high brow performance! Hey, you spend most of your time in the dark anyways!

Grow Up said...

Mullets rule!

Grannymar said...

I had Red Mullet for dinner the other day!

"Psst . . it's not 'constipated cross-eyed bear you twit!' . . .You mean 'A consecrated cross I'd bear!'

As a one time prompter in Am-Dram, I love it!!

i beati said...

hahahahhahahaha

Marianna said...

Interesting and funny...Oh I wanna come to Australia lol

xoxo

Ropi said...

My term ended, that's why I wasn't governor until the end. Maybe I will also have a chance in real life but I am not really into "mud throwing".

Baino said...

Oh grow up Grow up! Mullets were never cool! I know, I sort of had one in the 80's.

GrannyMar, you were a prompter? Excellent. I worked backstage at a convention once. Had 'cans' and everything.

iBeati, about time I made you laugh!

Candie . .I'm a great host but prolly wouldn't take you to Amateur theatre, maybe the ballet at the Opera House (if you pay!)

Kate said...

It sounds like my kind of place - apart from the canned Brie ... I remember blushing madly at a production of Equus - of course it was a long while ago!!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Hmm, could be a town somewhere in the Karoo you're describing there - only difference would be language of choice...
Loved the imagery of all this, can just picture it - see, you ought to have had a go at that short story competition! ;-)

kj said...

hahaha! i'm with you, baino. i love local productions. actually, i love the theatre in general and i don't take myself often enough.

i've seen some great productions: cats, angels in america, lots of shakespeare, don't cry for me argentina (smile), etc. and i still remember my lead in my high school senior play. i was ada in a neil simon comedy. i loved the laughter and applause totally.

baino, brie in a can? you've got to be kidding....

have fun honey!
kj

Alan Burnett said...

An interesting read, I will return.

Renee said...

You made me laugh. It's hicksville with an edge.

Love Renee xoxox

J A Harnett-Hargrove said...

Love your language. Great post! -Jayne

Leah said...

That is so incredibly cheerful! I love it.

And I also loved your "Joy" post which I just got a chance to read.

Baino said...

Kate it was an amateur production I saw actually even braver!

AV I think we all have our little pockets of hicksville!

What's with the Brie in a can, Haven't any of you seen that awful Kraft stuff that's in a ring pull can?

Thanks Alan, welcome to Theme Thursday!

I was being serious Renee. There's really posh houses and then a really shitty little RSL and down the road a really expensive restaurant. Totally weird.

Thanks Jayne, not as colourful as it can be I assure you!

Well no point wallowing Leah. I'm employed, it's Friday, 2 hours to go before knock off so yeah! Pretty cheeful this week.

River said...

Whaddaya mean mullets aren't cool? Have you never watched McGyver? Coolest mullet on earth. (I have a thing for Richard Dean Anderson)

River said...

@kj; I'd totally forgotten about Cats. I saw it first the year I joined my girls in their jazz ballet class, and was in the performance myself at the end of the year, what great fun. When the show came around again years later, I went to see it again, but the magic was gone because I knew the story so well.

Liza said...

That actually sounds like a fun ensemble of players to watch. Community theatre give players a lot more freedom to express their creative sides.

Jill said...

I actually LIKE the idea of an off the wall, unknown place over the BIG TIME. Charming.

lettuce said...

hicksville with an edge sounds pretty cool

i beati said...

We're somewhat culturally deprived here but do have a theater on the water