Our Country's Good, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Richmond Theatre
Max Stafford Clark revives Timberlake Wertenbaker's award winning play about convicts and the humanising power of theatre at Richmond Theatre for four nights this November
Timberlake Wertenbaker’s inspiration for the play was Thomas Keneally’s novel, The Playmaker, set in Sydney Cove, the most remote penal colony of the British Empire in 1789. As the convicts and their jailers unite to put on a play, the power of theatre to humanize and unite people is seen in action. Wertenbaker based the names of characters on the actual passengers who sailed to Australia on the First Fleet, and was given access to their 18th century journals to bring this true story to life. The play's focus on theatre as a life-giving source for communities may add a political motivation to its revival in the midst of modern day cuts to arts activities in schools and prisons.
Out of Joint
Max Stafford-Clark is the current Artistic Director of Out of Joint; the touring company specialises in new writing as well as reviving classic productions, such as this one. He is an extremely influential and acclaimed theatre practitioner, having commissioned and directed the premiere of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls during his time as the Artistic Director of the Royal Court. Stafford-Clark worked on Top Girls with designer Tim Shortall, with whom he will collaborate again on this production of what has proven to be a modern classic. The cast of ten make use of doubling, sometimes crossing gender boundaries, to play the twenty two characters. These include strong performances from Kathryn O'Reilly in the role of Liz, one of the most angry and miserable prisoners, and Laura Dos Santos, playing Mary Brenham, who naively falls in love with Ralph, her director and prison warden.