by Matt Kelly
The tickets have sold, the rehearsals have finished and the stage is set. All is in readiness for the opening night of Tim Winton’s The Bugalugs Bum Thief , presented by Monkey Baa Theatre, on May 5 at its new home in a $10.7 million dollar development at Darling Harbour.
“Our company now has a home to dream, to play and to create more diverse works for young people,” says Eva Di Cesare, Director of Monkey Baa Theatre Company.
Monkey Baa, established by Eva Di Cesare, Tim McGarry and Sandra Eldridge in 1997, has be come one of Australia’s leading theatre companies.Since its inception, it has performed theatrical adaptations of popular Australian children’s literature, while running workshops for aspiring young actors.
“Young people deserve work that is of high quality, that is engaging and encourages them to look at the world around them and their own place in the world,” co-director Tim McGarry says.
The Darling Quarter, a purpose-built facility developed by Lend Lease, is the first significant addition to Sydney’s cultural infrastructure since Carriageworks in 2007. It will house a 230-seat theatre to be used by Monkey Baa Theatre Company.
“This new facility is a great example of partnership between Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the private sector, which will deliver benefits to the broader community,” says George Souris, NSW Minister for the Arts.
“It will provide a wonderful home to Monkey Baa, an innovative and vibrant performing arts company that works in Sydney and tours widely in NSW and nationally,” Mr Souris says.The City of Sydney pledged $45,000 to help Monkey Baa move into the state of the art performance space.
“Monkey Baa Theatre Company is one of Australia’s flagship theatre companies and has long played an important role in promoting Arts and cultural industries to young people in Sydney and beyond,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says.
“The City has a proud history of supporting Sydney’s cultural institutions, both large and small, and this new grant for Monkey Baa demonstrates our long term commitment to nurturing and celebrating our city’s cultural life,” she says.
The opening show The Bugalugs Bum Thief has sentimental significance for the company. Not only is it the first show at the new complex, the Tim Winton adaptation was the first show the company produced.
“We’re thrilled that the show we will be launching at this venue is the show that started the whole company for us,” says co-director Sandra Eldridge.
Monkey Baa’s performance line-up will be further strengthened by an additional three productions for the 2012 season. With 86 performances, an anticipated audience of over 15,000 people is expected through the front doors of the new development.
“I feel privileged to be working in the Darling Quarter Theatre,” says Gideon Cordover, who has a part in the first show.
“Performing for one of the only children’s theatre companies in Sydney is a privilege. And I’m looking forward to bringing the show into regional Australia and having the opportunity to meet with enthusiastic young people around the country.”
The company is also set to break new ground by taking a number of its performances out of the theatre and into the public domain.
“We have begun to dream. The area surrounding the theatre is very child-friendly with a massive playground and grass areas. We can see how some of our works could begin in that area and then move into the theatre itself,” Eva Di Cesare says.
With the new show to open to a capacity audience, 2012 is expected to be Monkey Baa Theatre Company’s best season yet.
“We expect it to do very well and we can only hope that we have many bums on our seats,” Eva says. “Word of mouth is slowly translating into ticket sales and we’re thrilled.