Bringing a theatrical dream to life

Published 29 July 2010

horsleychantTwo young graduates in Theatre Studies from the University of New England are about to launch the first production of their newly-formed theatre company in Sydney.

Rachel Chant and Alanna Proud grew up in Armidale and met as Theatre Studies students at UNE. “Alanna and I began envisioning our own theatre company in 2006 when we met at UNE,” Rachel said, “and began putting things in place from early this year. We had a relatively small budget of $7,000, and we’ve already raised $4,000 of it through holding fundraisers in Sydney.”

The new company – Eclective Productions – is based in Sydney’s inner west, and its first production, Hybrid Dream, will be staged at PACT Theatre, Erskineville, from the 11th to the 15th of August.

“The creation of Eclective was driven by a need for artistic freedom, a hunger to perform with artists from different disciplines, and the intention of encouraging and consolidating a local, multidisciplinary artistic community,” Rachel said.

She describes Hybrid Dream as “a surreal re-imagining” of Strindberg’s influential A Dream Play (which is often regarded as a precursor of theatrical surrealism), using a “hybrid” mixture of new electronic media and live theatre, art and music. The audience is positioned in the centre of the theatre space, and is completely surrounded by the action of the performance. The staging of Hybrid Dream is the practical component of the Master’s program in Applied Theatre Studies that Rachel is undertaking through UNE.

“We began research for Hybrid Dream in March 2009 after realising the theatrical potential of Strindberg’s canonical text,” Rachel explained. “As Strindberg was writing (in 1901) for a theatre with technology that had not yet been invented, performances of the play never met his expectations. Now, with the possibilities that exist within “hybrid” theatre, we have the potential to produce a performance such as Strindberg might have envisioned.”

As it turns out, Hybrid Dream is largely an Armidale affair. “While all the roles in the production were open for application and audition, 13 of the 17 roles were filled by people from Armidale,” Rachel said. “These include the show’s directors, sound designer, lighting designer, new media artist, assistant stage manager, art department personnel – and three-quarters of the actors and musicians. Armidale (including its University) is such a hub of creativity.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Rachel Chant working on the production of Hybrid Dream with Ben Horsley (left) and Joseph Dutaillis. All three come from Armidale.