Ruby Moon, to be staged at the University of New England this week and next, is the first production of a new, not-for-profit theatre company called Chalk Circle Theatre that has strong connections with the University.
Chalk Circle Theatre’s co-artistic directors, Ruth Thompson and Martin Mantle, as well as its stage manager, Lynn Everett (a lecturer in UNE’s School of Education), all hold PhD degrees from UNE. All three have experience in teaching theatre and literature and are aware of the difficulties faced by regional teachers and students studying drama at Higher School Certificate level when there are few opportunities to see performances of the plays. To help overcome these difficulties, they plan to produce one play each year selected from the HSC Drama and Literature Curricula.
Chalk Circle Theatre will be working closely with English and Drama teachers to give school and community audiences throughout the northern and western districts of NSW – and southern Queensland – an opportunity to see professional productions of such plays.
Ruby Moon, by the Australian playwright Matt Cameron, is the HSC-listed play selected for 2010. Performances of Ruby Moon, available to the whole community, will be in the Arts Theatre at UNE. They will bring HSC students and teachers to the University for a theatrical experience and after-show discussions with the director and cast.
The plot of the play centres on the disappearance of a child named Ruby Moon from her home in the fictional suburb of Flaming Tree Grove. Some time later, her parents attempt to solve the mystery of her disappearance by revisiting their unusual neighbours. “Despite the darkness of the subject, humour is found in the Grove’s other residents, who all live eccentric lives behind the façade of their suburban front doors,” said the play’s director, Ruth Thompson.
Dr Thompson, now working in Theatre Studies at UNE, has worked as an actor and director in London and Sydney. “Ruby Moon is part detective story, part fairytale,” she said. “Extra magic is conjured by having two actors play all eight characters.”
The two actors busily transforming themselves are Julie Collins and Martin Mantle – both known to Armidale audiences for their many past roles.
The production is supported by UNE’s School of Arts and Uralla Arts.
Day-time performances of Ruby Moon will be on Wednesday 11 and Wednesday 18 August at 10.30 am, and on Thursday 19 August at 1 pm. Evening performances will be on Friday 13, Saturday 14, Friday 20, and Saturday 21 August at 7.30 pm.
Pre-booked tickets for school students are $8 (with accompanying teachers admitted free). For members of the general community, tickets are $15 (concession $10), and are available at Dymock’s or at the door.
Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of Ruth Thompson (left) and Julie Collins (right) with Martin Mantle and Lynn Everett.