GET ready to skip back and forth across the centuries with Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia at Harbour Theatre.
Directed by Barry Park, the play takes place in a single room on the Coverly Estate in two separate times – the Regency period and 1989.
In 1809, the household is in transition, where an Arcadian English garden landscape is being uprooted to make way for picturesque Gothic gardens, complete with a hermitage.
Meanwhile, the brilliant 13-year-old Lady Thomasina proposes a startling scientific theory that is only starting to be understood more than 200 years later.
In 1989, two competing scholars research the 1809 world of the estate and are intrigued by who lived in the hermitage and a possible bloody duel of passion.
Winning the 1993 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, Arcadia was named by the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 2006 as one of the best science-related works ever written.
“Arcadia is a fascinating play that discusses time, truth, love, literature, science and the differences between Classical and Romantic temperaments,” Barry said.
“It also focuses on the disruptive influence of sex on all other things we know about life.”
The play has several set, lighting and costuming challenges.
“Mark Nicholson is designing and constructing an imposing, enormous set that represents a large room in a grand English country house that will fill the vast space in the cavernous theatre,” Barry said.
“He is also planning subtle lighting changes to differentiate between the scenes set in 1809 and 1989.
“Accomplished costume designer Merri Ford is creating Regency and modern costumes for seven scenes for the cast of 12.
“Our stage managers are sourcing antique furniture and dozens of modern and antique props, including a rabbit, a tortoise and a theodolite.”
Involved in theatre since the 1970s, Barry has directed many award-winning plays – his most recent successes have been The Boys in the Band, August: Osage County, Present Laughter, A View from the Bridge, Other Desert Cities and Design for Living.
As an actor, he has performed in dozens of plays, musicals, pantomimes, films, radio plays and television in Salisbury, Cape Town, Edinburgh, London and Perth.
“I have wanted to direct Arcadia for many years because it’s one of Stoppard’s many clever, witty plays with intellectual appeal that tugs at the heart as well as the mind, representing a pinnacle in his brilliant career,” Barry said.
“It’s a play that is a favourite with literature students and reviewers have hailed it as Stoppard’s greatest play.
“Arcadia provides exciting acting challenges and I’m delighted to be working with a group of accomplished and experienced actors who will bring these intriguing characters to life.”
Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia plays at 7.30pm May 29, June 2, 4, 5, 9, 11 and 12 with 2pm matinees May 30, June 6 and 13. Tickets are $25.50, $23.50 concession and $20.50 students – book at www.TAZTix.com.au or call TAZTix on 9255 3336.
Harbour Theatre is located at 16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park.
arcadia1: Lady Thomasina (Lucy Wiese) with Septimus Hodge (Patrick Downes) in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. Picture: Dasha Melnik Photography
arcadia2: Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia features Anna Head as Lady Croom and Martyn Churcher as Richard Noakes. Picture: Dasha Melnik Photography
arcadia3: Valentine Coverly (Ashvath Singh Kunadi, left), Hannah Jarvis (Grace Edwards) and Bernard Nightingale (Adam Poole) explore the past in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. Picture: Dasha Melnik Photography
arcadia4: Chloe Coverly (Lily Valverde, left) about to get her hands on a coveted book from more than 200 years ago, delivered by Bernard Nightingale (Adam Poole). Picture: Dasha Melnik Photography
Harbour Theatre was formed in December 1963 by eight enthusiastic amateurs, led by Jimmy Quinn, a very competent and experienced director. Since then Harbour Theatre has entertained thousands of people. The variety of plays we have offered the public range from drama to comedy, whodunit to tragedy, and murder to farce. About the only thing we haven't attempted is Shakespeare. Yet!! Over the years Harbour Theatre has produced hundreds of full length plays, countless one-act plays and many Christmas Revues. These have earned us many awards in several of the play festivals around Perth.
Harbour Theatre initially performed in the Evans Davies Library in South Terrace, Fremantle (above what is now Dome). This was Harbour’s home for its first 31 years. Over the years the theatre grew and grew, and in the 1970's a major restructuring of the theatre resulted in the stage and seating being completely changed, thus allowing for larger audiences and better facilities for the actors. With an Associate Membership in the hundreds, Harbour Theatre has always been self sufficient, never having to call on Government or other funding bodies for support.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, in March 1995 we were forced to find another venue at which to perform. As a temporary measure, Harbour Theatre performed at the Tivoli Theatre, Applecross, for about 18 months, while searching for a location back in Fremantle.
Finally, at the end of 1996, Harbour Theatre relocated back in Fremantle to the Princess May Building. The next few weeks were very hectic as the spaced we leased had to be converted into a theatre. Our members raised the money and we built the stage and seating and installed the lighting, in time for our last play of 1996. The Princess May Building became our home for the next 15 years.
In 2007 the Fremantle Education Centre (who leased the Princess May Building from the City of Fremantle) refused to re-negotiate a lease and then in 2009 they received a Government Grant to build offices in the area occupied by the theatre. Despite months of lobbying State government representatives and local councillors, we were forced to move. The City of Fremantle then offered to rent us the Port Cineaste Building as a temporary venue. So, at the end of 2009, with the blood, sweat and tears of 33 of our members, we dismantled our beautiful theatre (and the only purpose built theatre in Fremantle) and moved lock, stock and barrel to the Port Cineaste Building. The major task of converting a cavernous cinema into an intimate performing arts space has been an enormous job undertaken by a number of our hardworking and dedicated members and involved many, many hours of volunteer labour.
Against all the odds Harbour Theatre lives to perform another day and we look forward to bringing you many more years of exciting and entertaining theatre.