Tag Archives: Trevar Alan Chilver

Jimmy and Cook at AWL

2014-07-14 AWL 010Having left the safe confines of Canberra’s tightly-knit theatre community, London posed certain challenges. Not least of which is where to make connections in the world’s theatre capital. Performing in The Inner Life of Sophie Taylor was a great start, but I was also lucky to have found very early in my time here Actors and Writers London.

AWL holds moved readings of full length plays every fortnight, and provides an environment for actors and writers to meet and share their work. They’re also a friendly and welcoming community, who made me feel very welcome right from the beginning.

At the end of each season, they hold a competition for ten minute plays, and given how much I have enjoyed being part of the Short+Sweet festivals in Australia, I of course put in a piece.

Out of quite a number of plays, Jimmy and Cook was selected to be among the eight read in the Summer competition, which was a great boost to my confidence. They organised a cast and a director, and we all showed up before the meeting on Monday and ran through it a few times. I’m not sure I was a great accent coach for Ben Owora‘s Aboriginal Australian English, but I was pretty impressed with the final result after such a quick rehearsal.

Amongst the other finalists there was one play that really stood out to me, which was Liam O’Grady‘s Tea With Aunty Suzy. Bravely stepping out from the comic mould that plagues writers of ten minute plays, O’Grady wrote a great script focused on a younger person’s visit to her aunt with dementia. The play evoked some deep emotions, possibly largely to do with my own experiences with my grandmother in her later years, and was a courageous and impressive piece in this context.

Most of all, it was great to find myself in the middle of such a great group. The atmosphere reminded me most of our Crash Test Drama nights in Canberra, and I felt just at much as home as I do there.

If you would like to read the script for Jimmy and Cook, it’s available on my Scripts page.

2014-07-14 AWL 005


Tags: , , , ,

Artists, prams and halls

It has felt like something of a whirlwind for me, being caught up in a production pretty much as soon as I arrived in London. When I saw an ad on Arts Jobs at the end of April for actors with Prams in the Hall, I was immediately struck by the aims of the company and how necessary this kind of opportunity is for parents. Of course at that stage I wasn’t familiar with Roisin Rae’s play, and how much the story resonated with both the aims of the company, and my own experience as a father who, by necessity, has needed to treat his greatest passion, playwriting, as a hobby for so long.

For my friends back in Canberra, who were all too lazy to come to the antipodes to see the play, The Inner Life of Sophie Taylor presents the story of an artist who has put her career on hold to raise children. A new opportunity draws out her inner, artistic life, and shakes up this lifestyle. So the play explores how she pursues this opportunity and the impact that pursuit has on her and her family.
Sound familiar? Those who know me know that I’ve had to deal with similar challenges, just like many of the creatives I’ve worked with over my years in Canberra.

For me, the production wasn’t an easy one. Two of the four characters I played presented substantial challenges. Andrew, husband to Sophie, had to be presented in a way that made him neither guilty nor innocent in the difficulties Sophie faced, and his similarity to my own circumstances often made it difficult for me to allow for a reading of the script hat wandered from my own experience.

And the other challenging character, their son, was five! While I had thought it would be fun to play a child since seeing a documentary about Company B’s London run of Cloudstreet over a decade ago, I hadn’t expected I would actually do so. It was, of course, a lot of fun. And a number of rehearsals were genuinely cathartic, as Karin Fisher-Potisk, our movement director, helped us discover our children by taking us back to childhood memories. I found myself quite wistful following one rehearsal in particular, due to the vividness with with I was able to remember my father, who I lost almost a decade ago now.

The Space

The Space

The performance venue was likewise both challenging and exciting. The Space is a performance venue on London’s Isle of Dogs, a former Presbyterian church repurposed as a theatre. It is full of character and has a quaint little stage with a marvellous proscenium. In the week before our performance I came with my daughter to see a production of Romeo and Juliet where the space was used in reverse, with the audience crossing the stage to enter it; it really is a nice performance space, even if you need to put up with the noise of a busy cafe kitchen in the wings!

I certainly didn’t expect that I would be treading the boards during my short stint in London, but I’m glad I did. This experience introduced me to some great creatives and the production was a blast from start to end.

Cast plus director for The Inner Life of Sophie Taylor.

Cast plus director for The Inner Life of Sophie Taylor.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Short+Sweet Canberra 2012 (Week 1)

Connie challenges Charlie in ‘The Fence’

Last night I had one of those moments. You know, when something you’ve been working on for a while has come to fruition and is about to end. Theatrical folk do tend to go a little over-the-top experiencing these moments, but it is genuinely sad when you see a cast perform a show you’ve been working on for the last time.

So it was with The Fence and The Commuter in this year’s Short+Sweet. I didn’t realise until just before the lights went up on The Fence for the last time that it was the last time I’d see it. And then I realised it would be the last time I’d see them too (even if they get into the final next Saturday, I can’t be there because of a family commitment). For me they were the culmination of five or so pretty intense weeks of casting, rehearsing, preparing, and of course lots of laughing.

The cast I worked with on The Fence was just great. They were extremely committed to the show, so when the Murphy’s Law of Theatre (that if anybody can get sick s/he will) took effect, it was great to see the cast rally around, make changes to the schedule as necessary and finally plough right on through. The actor in question, Tony Marziano, was a trooper and a director couldn’t have asked for more in terms of commitment and effort, and the result was great. Katarina Thane gave a lot to the role of Connie, and I was so pleased to see the vision I had of this kind of suburban Lady Macbeth realised. And it was great to be able to catch up with an old uni friend, Arne Sjostedt, who played the neighbour, John, with great humour.

I hope it did justice to the writer’s vision. It was difficult to have to ask Coralie Daniels, the playwright, if we could cut the script when we found we were quite significantly over the ten minute time limit. The cuts we finally made did make a significant difference to the play’s reference points, but they gave us a stronger ending, and of course brought us within cooee of the time limit. My last play in Short+Sweet, Mr Fixit, was found to be significantly over the time limit, and the cuts were quite brutal. Not so with The Commuter, which I carefully restricted to seven pages (though it still comes close).

The Commuter deals with a strange kid and an American tourist.

I will never get tired of seeing characters that started as a vague image in the dark recesses of my mind come to life on stage. Arne was in this one too, bringing my American tourist to life, and young Henry Maley made a great precocious eight-year-old, with Gabriel Strachan as his aggressively protective mother. But of course it all came down to Simon Clarke’s portrayal of the commuter himself, and I was very pleased that he didn’t turn out to be either too ocker, or in any way a bleeding heart. This character could be portrayed in many ways, and I was really pleased with how closely Simon aligned the character to my vision.

The calibre of plays being performed in this week’s Short+Sweet really is impeccable. I was a little surprised, to be honest, having read Gerry Greenland’s script for Driving the Holden, with how well it translated to the stage. Sometimes you just don’t see the characters in reading the play, and Lis Shelley’s direction has served Dan Holliday and Nick Foong’s efforts well in bringing this story to life. It’s a very strong start to the festival. On opening night, it was disappointing to see the cast of A Short History of Weather drop a line in the middle of their otherwise impeccable performance, and I was so pleased to see the play again last night without the cicadas. They deserve an encouragement award for powering on, especially since the result last night was so effective.

But I think the play to fear in week one is definitely Spit for Tat. The sight gag of lovers spitting water all over each other is funny enough, but performers Scott Rutar and Caroline Simone O’Brien have backed it up with stellar performances that demonstrate some fantastic character development. Despite the somewhat fanciful nature of the script, they’re completely believable in every moment, and deliver what for my money is the standout performance of week one.

Short+Sweet has been a lot of fun, and I’m so glad I managed to participate this year. The Commuter will be available on my scripts page in a day or two, but it’s better to see it than read it, and unless the judges choose it for the Gala Final, tonight’s your last chance!


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mrs Holt

Now, I’m not in the habit of commenting on shows that I’ve written myself, but I can paste here a transcript of Bill Stephens’ comments on Mrs Holt, which is one of my own shows, which is currently showing at The Street Theatre…

Canberra Dramatics are a local theatre group which is committed to the development of new plays by playwrights from the city of Canberra and the surrounding region.

Their newest production, which is currently running at The Street Theatre until next Saturday 16th August is Mrs. Holt…written by Canberra playwright Trevar Alan Chilver.

I went along to the opening night of Mrs. Holt last Thursday night and discovered a thoughtful, entertaining and engaging play – not so much about aging – which I might have expected given the setting is in a nursing home ward – but more about changing attitudes and expectations between the generations.

I particularly liked the performance given by Gay Evans as an irascible, old patient called – intrigueingly – Zara Holt …who is the subject of the play.

I have not seen Gay perform before, but she is obviously an experienced actress – who has the ability to wring every ounce of comedy – and pathos – from her role to invest it with depth and interest.

Pete Ricardo, as the male nurse Jack Harris, also impressed with a well judged performance…the other actors in the cast Sarah Daphne, Sarah Ritchie and Cerri Davis.

Staged in a simple – effective and appropriate setting, this is probably the best play I have seen so far from Canberra Dramatics.and although it would benefit from eliminating some of the long black-outs between scenes which allow the pace to drop seriously… if you are at all interested in local playwrighting it is well worth your time to get along and see it.

Mrs. Holt runs at the Street Theatre until next Saturday 16th August. You can find out details of performances and performance times by ringing the Street Theatre or visiting their website.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: