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From Canberra to Monaco: Pigeonhole Theatre heads abroad

Helena Game and Valeriya Lloyd

It was 6am one morning last year when Pigeonhole Theatre director and co-founder Jordan Best was told that Playhouse Creatures had been selected for the prestigious Mondial Du Theatre in Monaco.

After an excellent inaugural season at The Q in 2016, Jordan, who is the play’s director too, was encouraged to apply for a spot for the international showcase, an event held every four years that aims to connect 24 theatre companies from five continents, celebrating cultural diversity through the dramatic arts.

“We’d already missed the deadline for applications, so I didn’t hold out much hope of us being selected, but I thought it was worth a try,” she explains. “I didn’t hear anything for months, and then, at six o’clock one morning in October I got an email telling me that our show was one of the 24 to be chosen.”

The cast of Playhouse Creatures

The cast of Playhouse Creatures

Set in 1669 and originally written by English dramatist April De Angelis, Playhouse Creatures explores a time when women were finally allowed to perform on stage. Looking at the experiences of five well-known actresses from 17th Century London, the play follows the lives of Nell Gwynn, Mrs Betterton, Doll Common, Mrs Marshall and Mrs Farley.

“[The play is] a moving and often comic account of the precarious lives of Restoration actresses; curiosities, sex objects, or professional artists? De Angelis’ play is contemporary in tone and preoccupations but adheres closely to the lives and struggles of the first English actresses, if not always constrained by historical accuracy,” Jordan explains.

Established in 2015 by Jordan, alongside Liz Bradley and Karen Vickery, Pigeonhole Theatre is dedicated to showcasing work that has great roles for women, both on and off the stage. All three women are veterans of the dramatic arts, with backgrounds in directing and acting across theatre, television and radio. Jordan is an ANU School of Music graduate, Karen has studied and worked at NIDA, and Liz Bradley has been performing for over forty years.

Playhouse Creatures features Canberra talent both on stage and off, including Liz Bradley, Amy Dunham, Jenna Roberts, Karen Vickery and Emma Wood all performing. Behind the curtain, the crew includes Carmen King as stage manager, Zoe Priest as dresser, and Matthew Webster as composer.

Jordan explains that taking a small local production abroad is a challenging but exhilarating prospect.

“For a tiny, independent, theatre company with no support, it is a daunting and difficult task, taking a work overseas,” she says. “I realised that we would have to radically change the design for the show, as the solid wood structure that was our set in the original production, would not be possible to tour with.”

But there was no way they were giving up the chance to take Pigeonhole Theatre international.

“Even with the challenges associated with making this happen, I knew we had to do it. How often do you get the opportunity to take a show overseas? And also to watch theatre companies from all over the world perform?”

“Having never been to an international festival before, I think we are all feeling apprehensive and excited about what this experience will be like. It feels very exciting to be taking Canberra theatre to the world!”

Playhouse Creatures will be performed at The Playhouse at Canberra Theatre Centre one last time before they tour to Monaco.

the essentials 

What: Playhouse Creatures
When: Friday 11 August at 8pm
Where: The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre, Civic
Tickets: $30-50 purchase them here


Helena Game

Helena is a wannabe journalist studying Communications and Journalism at the University of Canberra. Canberra born and bred, she is hopelessly in love with writing, stories and travel. She recently wrote her way around Japan for a creative writing study tour, and spent another two weeks in the Middle East on a journalism exchange, both of which have left her with a proper case of the post-travel blues. While she plots her next adventure, Helena is hoping to gain as much industry experience as humanly possible, and somehow finish her degree at the same time. More about the Author


Valeriya Lloyd

Val is studying Communications in Media and Public Affairs at University of Canberra and has a great passion for writing (in two languages as she originally came to Canberra from Russia). Val enjoys writing about life generally, and sometimes from a fictional perspective. She often generates new ideas in sudden moments and admits that she has at least two diaries, where she writes her notes and inspiration for future stories. She loves to meet new people and showcase their talents and originality. Val is very social person, who loves the local lifestyle and the inner beauty of Canberra. More about the Author

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