A newly-formed theatre company based in Armidale aims to take professional theatre performances to areas of regional NSW where, in the past, people have had very limited access to live theatre.
Two University of New England graduates in Theatre Studies, Christopher Curcuruto and Alex Robson, founded the Felt Tip Theatre Company earlier this year. Their vision is to perform in regional theatres, town halls and school auditoriums – wherever there is an interest in the performing arts – as well as staging regular productions in Armidale.
“There are very few opportunities for people in the New England region to watch – or participate in – live theatre,” Alex Robson said. “This makes it especially difficult for young people, who have to resort to travelling to major metropolitan centres to watch performances of their high-school drama and English texts, and to leaving the region permanently if they want to pursue a career in the performing arts. However, the Felt Tip Theatre Company, based in Armidale, is striving to change that.
“Coming from Tamworth, I know of the thirst there is, especially in young people, to see and do exciting theatre in the country. Too often you see young, talented and creative people leaving for the big cities because there is simply nothing here for them – when there easily could be.”
Chris Curcuruto added: “After spending six years in Armidale, I know how talented and enthusiastic the people here are. Armidale once marketed itself as the cultural capital of country NSW, and it could easily reclaim that title.”
The pair’s intention is to perform a variety of works – from the classical canon to more modern works – with the aim of creating interest in the broad spectrum of theatre. They want to pay particular attention to plays on the Higher School Certificate English and Drama syllabuses, allowing local students to enjoy the same opportunities afforded to those in the major cities.
Felt Tip Theatre Company will also be working closely with the Armidale Police and Community Youth Club (PCYC), establishing a Youth Division to enable high-school students to discover and enhance their theatrical skills. “We are very excited to be working alongside Felt Tip Theatre Company’s Youth Division to establish a year’s worth of alternative, creative and surprising productions,” said Kelly Jones, the Activities Manager for the PCYC. “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to get involved in acting, drama, production and costume design.”
Sue Fell, a lecturer in Theatre Studies at UNE, said: “Our mission is to send our students and graduates out into the community, industry and workplace equipped with the skills and the knowledge that make it possible to set up such enterprises and to develop professional careers – whether it’s as practitioners, teachers or artists. Young people working together around arts-based activities – from secondary schools, UNE, or wherever – help generate a dynamic energy for our community.”
The Youth Division will meet weekly throughout the year, having their first session on Friday the 18th of March at the PCYC from 4 pm to 6 pm, at a cost of $10 a session. For more information on this, or the Felt Tip Theatre Company in general, contact Chris Curcuruto and Alex Robson on 6773 4554 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.