Five reasons to not miss out on Dreamland this month
NORPA took theatre lovers to the train station in Lismore last year for their sell-out show Railway Wonderland, and this year they're taking local crowds to into the Byron hinterland to Eureka Hall for their new home-grown show Dreamland, developed in association with Arts Northern Rivers 'If These Halls Could Talk' project.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn't miss this show:
1. The Eureka Hall
Eureka Hall is a beautiful 110-year-old wooden community hall in the hinterland of Byron Shire.
NORPA's artistic director Julian Louis said the hall is in a stunning location in the green rolling hills of Eureka looking over to Whian Whian State Forest.
"We're taking the audience into a dreamland from the moment they step on the grounds. We're utilising the whole space - you'll arrive and there'll be food from local Federal Smokehouse, a bar, outdoor spaces from which to watch the sunset," he said.
"Then you'll move inside the hall for the show. Each performance seats 90 people and we've set up the seating with some rows facing each other across the hall, like wallflowers at a dance with the action between them. It will be an exciting and up-close experience".
"The place is magic, the hall is absolutely adorable," said actor Toni Scanlon.
"I know people who are coming from miles to see it because the whole experience will be a treat."
2. The Music
A live band will provide a live score throughout the show.
Multi-instrumentalist Shenzo Gregory (of Fourplay String Quartet), percussion and drumming maestro Ben Walsh and double-bassist Barry Hill will take audiences on a musical journey.
Performer Kirk Page will also be singing.
Music Director and musician Shenzo Gregory said the music will be a central part of the show.
"The music is an integral part of the story-telling," he said.
"Small halls like Eureka are no strangers to bands. We want people to feel like they're witnessing live what would have happened in these spaces. You walk in, there's a band playing on stage. After the show we'll clear the floor so people can have a dance if they want."
3. The characters and performers
The NORPA team have spent months researching, interviewing, meeting people and gathering information about the community and history of Eureka Hall, as well as halls across the region.
This has acted as inspiration for developing the fictional characters in Dreamland.
NORPA have brought together an ensemble of professional performers to bring the story and characters to life, including actor and dancer Philip Blackman and actress Katia Molino (who both performed in Railway Wonderland), acclaimed stage and TV actress Toni Scanlon, actor and NORPA Associate Director Kirk Page (nominated to a Logie as Most Outstanding Actor 2014 for Redefern Now) and acrobat Darcy Grant.
Local dancer and actor Phil Blackman said his character is called Neville.
"I play Neville who is a little bit like a ghost of the building, as if a part of the hall has come to life," he said .
"Neville is a member of the hall committee and they're scrutinising an enthusiastic, young local man who wants to hire the hall for an event.
"During the process of the interview we take the audience to different times and events including Neville's earlier life as a farmer who has to come to terms with selling off his property and the introduction of hippie culture into his life and the community."
Toni Scanlon's character is a very salt of the earth independent woman.
"She is a farmer who is facing retirement. She's just a really truthful, good character and I have met people like this since I moved up here so hopefully it's an homage to those fantastic ladies that I've met," Toni said.
Kirk Page plays a character that feels like a wedding singer.
"When the musical moments happen I magically start to sing. We're creating a magical, flashback, dreamscape feel - like if Baz Luhrman came to Eureka Hall!" Kirk Page said.
NORPA is one of the few remaining professional theatre companies based in regional Australia creating new Australian works.
Assistant Director Kate McDowell said Dreamland doesn't feel like a small town idiosyncratic story because its been elevated to another level.
"It's epic and magical," she said.
"I think it's so special for our community to be able to come and see new Australian theatre of this caliber, created from our experiences of living in the Northern Rivers."
Actor Toni Scanlon said she moved to Brunswick Heads from Sydney two years ago.
"The great thing about being part of Dreamland it that it is giving me insight into the Northern Rivers, the community I have chosen as my home," she said.
"The research interviews with the people around this area were meaningful and I could relate to the stories although we may have had very different life experiences and interests."
5. It's Selling Out
The first week of Dreamland has already sold out so they've added nine extra performances, including Saturday matinees for those who don't like driving at night, NORPA has confiremd that tickets are going fast.
Dreamland by NORPA
- Where: Eureka Hall, cnr Eureka Rd & Federal Drive, Eureka
- When: 23 November to 10 Dec, 8pm + Saturday matinees 4:30pm
- Food: Jerry's Smokehouse & Bar from 6pm
- Tickets: $22 - $37
- Bookings: www.norpa.org.au or call NORPA on 66 220 300.