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Review - Now We Wait: Start Ups at Villanova A Youth Initiative

By Lilian Harrington

Now We Wait

By Stephen Clark

Directed by Lillian Dowdell

Villanova Players

Ron Hurley Theatre Centre, Seven Hills

Dates: 22 July – 24 July (limited season).

Bookings : Try booking or phone :0423920832

It’s refreshing and exciting to see Start UP an initiative coming from the Youth at Villanova Players Theatre. This has to be encouraged in other Community Theatres too because it leads to theatre growth.

It’s Lillian Dowdell’s debut as a stage director, and she has dedicated this production to the recent tragic mass shooting in the Robb Elementary School, U.S. a trigger for this production. She has created a simply staged setting, where five teenage students are hold up terrified, in the middle of a mass shooting on campus. They are hiding in the school theatre from an insane 18 year old gunman, a fellow student at their school, and one of their friends.

This youth production provides young players a safe place to develop their theatrical skills. Supported by Villanova’s Management Team - Leo Bradley, Lucy Moxon and Helen Ekundayo, the team have worked together over some months under the direction of Lillian Dowdell and Cecilia Girard Assistant Director to get the production up.

The creative team have come from a range of backgrounds. Lillian Dowell has studied drama and been in various roles at Villanova. She intends to teach drama when she completes her degree. Cecilia Girard her Assistant Director, has performed on stage, but not experienced behind scenes before. This team have translated their skills to the stage very successfully in this production, with the help of their theatre mentors.

The five young cast members all have some background acting credits as well. Rose ,(Ashleigh Horsfield), has had some training in the NIDA weekend workshops, and taken part in Shake and Stir Competitions on Shakespeare, as well as doing some stage and film roles. Her performance is very focused and natural. Playing alongside her is Emily (Beth Allen) who has taken part in several Villanova Productions, and as Emily in this play, she captures a girl who is on the brink of going down-hill, resorting to drug taking and other things, ‘who doesn’t see it coming” and who has to “fess up” to Rose and the others while trapped in the “hold up” on some very sensitive matters.

Luke, played by Samuel Connolly, has a background in school drama and QUT drama, and is interested in film and TV; in this production he plays a tall, lanky, smooth and twitchy guy, in an ill-fitting jacket, who has developed a love interest with female classmate Brit ( Michaela Gallagher ), unbeknown to their classmate Micheal (Cale Dennis). The two males in the cast are confident and create a good contrast with the three young women. Key moments are shared due to the situation they are confronted with - Michael has to admit that he has changed his attitude to Brit because he has realised that he is gay. He has accepted himself, but he hasn’t shared this with others until now. Michael (Cale) gives a confident performance and commands a good stage presence. As well as studying Fine Arts at QUT, he does NIDA classes and Queensland Theatre, and works with companies such as Ad Astra to develop his skills.

The atmosphere created by the players is real and the audience are carried along with the action and events. The play is simply staged and uses some technical and overhead effects to highlight key themes and moments. This production shows initiative and was entertaining.


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