Stage Fright!, my theatrical adaptation of Paul Jennings’ marvellously inventive, witty, naughty, spine-tingling stories will open in the New Theatre in Sydney next week and will run till January 28th.
Writing and producing this play was my first excursion into the terrors of being an independent theatrical producer in 1993. I’d been artistic director of theatre companies before, but always with the backup of an established structure, government funding, and a board of directors.
I felt incredibly nervous and exposed starting my own company, funding a production out of my own pocket, and employing all cast and crew.
On the plus side, I had the support of presenters Nora Goodridge, Sue Russell, Anna Glover and Chris John who were selling the tickets and booking the theatres. On the minus side, some of the venues they had arranged were vast, and included the 2000-seat Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House.
It all looked like an enormous risk to take, but we were confident that the reputation of Paul Jennings, whose children’s books and TV series Round the Twist were at the height of their popularity, would help to pull in the crowds. They did.
Fortunately the show, directed by Nici Wood, was a big success with audiences, ran for more than six months and toured Australia, playing to over 120,000 people. The wonderful hard-working professional cast and crew kept their jobs and Mevrouw T and I kept our house.
It was very good of Paul Jennings to trust me to stage his work and of Penguin Books to publish the script. The book is unfortunately out of print now, but copies still float around Australian school libraries and are regularly used by school groups.
It is very encouraging to hear that a show I wrote nearly twenty years ago will be getting another life.
Good luck to the cast and crew of this new production and I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
Stage Fright will run in the New Theatre, Sydney, from January 12-28, 2012. Book tickets here, or phone 1300 13 11 88.