In eight days time, Sidetrack Theatre will be hosting the first week of Stories from the 428. In under 3 months, two groups (a cluster perhaps?) of 8 writers will have created two full length works – which have been auditioned for by 150 actors, rehearsed by 8 directors and finally staged at Sidetrack Theatre, in the Addison road centre…

Largely this has been a playground for theatre practitioners: writers- given permission to write hatever they want (to a maximum of 12 minutes) and know that whatever they offer, will be staged. Directors- given actors, time, space and scripts with which to work. Actors- given a chance at being a part of an exclusive Australian premiere. Designers- given the chance and the challenge to create for 32 vignettes…

Over the past 6 weeks, I have been asked “where did the idea for this project come from?” and “what’s it about”… to which I take a deep breath and reply- community.

It seems as though the more tools we have to keep in touch- mobile phones, texting, email, facebook, internet- the harder it is to feel well and truly connected to people. As the tidal wave of technology swells, and the immediate heat of someone else’s presence subsides and is substituted for the blue glow of a computer screen… However- it is a truth that I hold with both fists- that ultimately all humans- regardless of faith, background and politics yearns to be loved and understood. We need each other- we want to be around and with each other- because it gives us something to respond to. Something to think about. Something to learn. People seek to teach and seek to be taught by each other- we yearn for a connection or a connectedness that reassures and reminds us- we are not alone.

To best explore this notion, this project has a two fold approach-
Firstly, it seeks to create a collegiate space within which writers and directors work together, sharing cast and resources. It seeks to create a realm wherein all crew are valued for what they bring to the community of artists- and a keen awareness that without anyone person working on a show- we are weaker. 428 would be nothing without Gavin Roach as sponsorship coordinator- it wouldn’t be lit without Miles Thomas, nor would people be rehearsing and scheduled without Alison Murphy-Oates. There would be movement but no sound with Jeremy Silver, No one would have an image to associate with it- if it wasn’t for Karolina, no one would have heard of it without Julia Lenton… without PJ Gahan at the helm- I don’t know what we would be doing… and without the tenacity and designs from Gemma-Lark Johnson- the stage would not be set. And without Leah McGirr- no proof that any of this ever happened. This is the crew and creatives that have created a community- taking care of each other, the show and the to-do lists.

Secondly, this is a show which reaches out into the community to say, that local is wonderful, inspiring- that the everyday is important and sublime- that theatre isn’t for the lucky, the rich nor the recent art school graduates- it is for everyone- and it is as simple and honest as telling a story about where we live- how we feel- what we think- what we yearn for- what frightens us- what annoys us… this is a snapshot of the community which thrives along the artery of the 428 bus route.
This is a reaction to the life and times of where we are- it is a reflection, a response, a fantasy and a re-telling… which says to all – “you are not alone, you are not invisible, you are apart of my community whether you know it, want it, like it, or not.”
Week 1 is stunningly beautiful, quirky and surprising- check out the work from:

The writers: Vanessa Bates, Kit Brookman, Rebecca Clarke, Sime Knezevic, Ned Manning, Brooke Robinson, Alison Rooke and Phil Spencer.

The Directors: Zoe Carides, Glenn Hazeldine, Augusta Supple, Ian Zammit.

The Cast: Anna Lise Phillips, Rob Jago, Stephen Peacocke, Emma Jones, Jan Langford-Penny, Brendan Hawke, Leo Domigan, Felix Jozeps, Bridgette Sneddon, Julian Ramundi, Suz Mawer, Amy Kersey, Jovana Miletic, Kailah Cabanas, Felix Gentle, Adam Demos and Helena Stamoulis

Go to the theatre- embrace your community- experience something completely new and unexpected- go on… can’t be as bad as waiting for someone to “like” something on your facebook page…