NORPA railway show on track for more original theatre
THE sell-out success of NORPA's (Northern Rivers Performing Arts) locally produced site-specific show Railway Wonderland has proven there is a demand for adventurous, contemporary theatre works created from regional Australia.
It also confirmed NORPA as a dynamic, bold voice helping shape contemporary Australian performance.
The homegrown outdoor theatre event staged at Lismore's no-longer-in-use train station attracted audiences from all across the Northern Rivers region of NSW as well as South East Queensland and capital cities.
Its 15-show run (a significant undertaking for a regional centre) sold out within the first week.
First staged in 2012, the return season of Railway Wonderland is now one of the most popular shows ever to be presented by NORPA in its 23 year history.
"One of the great plays of the year"
Michael Cathcart, ABC Radio National Books & Arts Daily
Using local stories and the region's history of postwar immigration as inspiration points, Railway Wonderland combined drama, song, physical theatre and audio visual projections to transport audiences on a magical journey from the 1940s to the present day.
"Railway Wonderland has all the hallmarks of an Australian classic"
Reviews from media and audience feedback have been glowing with leading arts commentator Michael Cathcart of ABC Radio National describing it as "one of the highlights of the year" that ''takes risks and says things that matter about the human soul" and NORPA as "a very ambitious company with an extraordinary range of activities".
NORPA General Manager, Patrick Healey said "for a regional city to undertake a three week season of a theatre production is a high risk and unusual endeavour.
"It was the theatrical and artistic quality of Railway Wonderland that radiated throughout the region that resulted in huge word-of-mouth support."
"It took the audience on an emotional ride that had it laughing, clapping, and, sometimes, seriously silent."
NORPA is one of the few remaining professional theatre companies in regional Australia creating and producing original work as well as bringing the best of Australian performing arts companies to regional audiences.
"People will be talking about Railway Wonderland for years to come"
NORPA currently has two new works in development, Dreamer, directed by Julian Louis, and Three Brothers - a Bundjalung work being created in collaboration with the local community and whose creative team includes Julian Louis, Rhoda Roberts, visual artist Djon Mundine and Bangarra Dance Theatre's David Page and Frances Rings.
"The best site-specific theatre piece I have ever seen"