The Kin Collective’s longstanding relationship with iconic independent theatre, fortyfivedownstairs, is fortified in 2017 with its first co-production. The raw, nostalgic beauty of Tim Winton’s Shrine will be offset by Marcel Dorney’s strong, stylised directorial vision, bringing each character’s uniquely different experience of the play’s central incident to life.
With more than 15 years experience as a theatre maker, and with the unique experience of having personally adapted Tim’s work for film, Marcel Dorney was The Kin Collective’s first and obvious choice to direct this challenging play. Collaborating with long-time creative partner and Lighting Designer, Kris Chainey, Marcel’s vision for Shrine is one of long shadows and blurred outlines: a world where even our fondest memories are called into question by the relentless, withering force of grief and regret. Together, our cast and creative team will distill Winton’s text for the stage in the same way his fiction distills in the imaginations of readers.
This production will use the full length of the fortyfivedownstairs to communicate the evolution of each character’s experience: sometimes their memories of Jack appear in sudden, sharp focus, only to be distorted again by someone else’s version of the same memory. Sometimes they find themselves laughing out loud together in the darkest of moments. Sometimes their inability to communicate their grief makes them feel a thousand miles away; sometimes the intensity of their pain means they exist in the moment in a way we’re rarely able to as human beings. We will use the height and depth of the theatre to literally isolate these moments with the support of Kris Chainey’s lighting design.
We’re excited by the challenges of staging this work: from beach-side bonfires to sterile morgues; from swimming with whales surrounded by stars, to alcohol-fueled car collisions and a lonely grave; creating a space that can accommodate these complexities means collaborating intimately with our designers to bring these images to life. With the help of video artist, John Lloyd Fillingham, our production will capture the play’s elements of magic realism using glimpses of literal imagery interspersed with dreamlike light and colour: light that feels forever beyond the reach of our characters’ experience, just as Jack’s presence hovers just beyond the reach of his family and friends.
We have in this project an opportunity to engage a teenage audience in a way that offers them ownership of their own stories. By carefully framing the drama in a way that stimulates their imagination beyond the literal, we aim to challenge young people to extrapolate the characters’ journeys into their own imaginative worlds. By the same token, having mature actors take on the roles of teenagers on stage, we offer them an opportunity to view the action more objectively, and so blur the boundaries between the roles of adult and child in a way that really ‘lets them in.’
Donations and support through ACF will help The Kin Collective realise this production in a bold and original way. Money donated will go towards lighting and projection equipment that will make this a unique sensory experience for teenagers and audiences members alike. Any funds that exceed our initial target will be put towards additional daytime performances to be offered to regional schools attending the show.