Celebrated Perth actor, playwright and director Jenny Davis has been heavily involved in past months helping Theatre 180 bring two plays to a new city venue, Burt Hall, in St Georges Terrace which, she says, is an ideal setting.
“We are presenting The Children by Lucy Kirkwood, an award-winning British playwright and I And You by US playwright Lauren Gunderson,” she says. “It is bringing together two of the most exciting young writers internationally.
“We don’t do a lot of overseas plays these days and it’s nice to see the writing going on elsewhere. The beauty of both plays is about the legacy you leave, one is from the point of view of seniors and the other from the point of view of teenagers.
“So you are bringing two ends of the spectrum together which suits us at Theatre 180. Coming out of the old Agelink Theatre we are all about intergenerational change and embracing it so it works well for us which is why these two plays go so well together.”
The Children has been a big hit on London and New York stages. Kirkwood is one of the world’s most exciting new playwrights, heralded as “the most rewarding dramatist of her generation.”
In an idyllic cottage on the British coast, two retired nuclear scientists, Hazel (Jenny Davis) and Robin (Andrew Lewis) are enjoying the quiet life. Apart from electricity rationing, daily radiation warnings and coastal erosion, everything with them is fine.
Around them, however, the world is in chaos, with the fallout of a nuclear power plant meltdown threatening their very existence. When old friend and colleague Rose (Vivienne Garrett) arrives unexpectedly, their future and past lives collide as they debate the present and the challenges they face.
I And You by America’s most produced and popular playwright, Lauren Gunderson, features two top young WA performers, Sophia Forrest and Darius Williams. It burns with humanity amid a poetical call to arms for living the best life.
Caroline (Sophia Forrest) hasn’t been at school for months, sick at home. she’s trapped in her bedroom with only Facebook, Twitter and Insta for company. When classmate Anthony (Darius Williams) arrives unexpectedly, spouting Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and brandishing an unfinished English literature project he urgently needs her help with, she is less than impressed and rejects this intrusion into her damaged life.
As they come together and reveal themselves through Whitman’s electric poetry and over waffle fries, they discover a connection far deeper than either of them could have imagined.
Davis says Theatre 180 is creating a theatre space from a sound space at Burt Hall.
“Downstairs is a newly renovated play area. Since the Playhouse was demolished, the cathedral choristers have rehearsed there, but now they have their own designated place and the cathedral allowed us to use it.
“It has been turned into a studio-theatre so both plays have an intimate, ‘fly on the wall’ feel which suits us very well. Also, it’s another space in the city to be used; we are always short of small theatre spaces.”
Davis says both plays will be playing at different times. Opening night sees The Children at 5.30pm and I And You, at 8pm but on other days it is the other way around.
“The idea is that people, especially seniors, have lots of options. Both plays can be seen by any age but seniors will be especially interested in The Children and those with teenagers and teenage grandchildren will find I And You beautiful and moving.”
The Children and I and You play at Burt Hall, 38 St Georges Terrace, Perth from 8–29 May. Bookings: www.the atre180.com.au