Felicity Castagna’s novel The Incredible Here and Now, a powerful coming of age story, won the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literature Award in the Young Adult Fiction category. Set in Western Sydney, it tells the tale of Michael, a gifted young writer who lives in the shadow of his older brother, Dom. But when Dom is killed in a car accident, Michael is left to try to steer his life, his friendships, love and family.

Castagna’s award-winning novel has been adapted for the stage and the world premiere production of The Incredible Here and Now will commence its run at Riverside Theatres from 13 July, presented by the burgeoning National Theatre of Parramatta (NTofP).

Directed by Jeneffa Soldatic (TV’s Then that happened and Strange LA) and Wayne Harrison (former artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company), the production will star Bardiya McKinnon (TV’s As the bell rings and In your dreams) and Alex Cubis (TV’s Mako Mermaids and Rake). Joining McKinnon and Cubis in the cast are Caroline Brazier, Libby Asiack, Olivia Simone, Ryan Peters and Sal Sharah.

Bardiya McKinnon stars in the world premiere production of The Incredible Here and Now (Photo by Eric Berry)

Bardiya McKinnon stars in the world premiere production of The Incredible Here and Now (Photo by Eric Berry)

The production marks somewhat of a homecoming for co-director Soldatic. A life member of The Actors Studio, she’s an award-winning Australian-born director, actor and acting coach who’s worked internationally for almost two decades. Last year, she directed Andrew Bovell’s Speaking in tongues for the LA-based Australian Theatre Company. It was at that time that Soldatic met Harrison, when he attended the opening night performance.

“In the foyer, Wayne was asking me about where I was from in Sydney and my work,” she recalls.

After learning that she grew up in Ingleburn in Sydney’s Greater West, Harrison told Soldatic about the recently-founded Parramatta-based theatre company and asked whether she’d be interested in working on a production with the NTofP.

“I said absolutely, I’d love to come back home and do work, especially work in my area and work about my area,” Soldatic says.

And did she ever imagine she’d have the opportunity to work with in this capacity with Harrison, the man at the helm of the Sydney Theatre Company for almost 10 years?

“No, not at all, it was a great compliment,” she says. “I cannot thank him enough for asking me to work with him.”

Soldatic discusses her response when learning about the NTofP’s establishment.

“I must tell you, I was really excited,” she says. “It’s something that was never here when I was growing up. It was a missing link for theatre for me. There was no theatre of my people, no theatre of our area.”

Jeneffa Soldatic

Jeneffa Soldatic is co-directing the world premiere of The Incredible Here and Now

Earlier this year, Soldatic had the opportunity to attend NTofP’s first production of 2017, directed by Harrison.

“When I was here in January, I saw Hakawati and I absolutely loved it” she says.

Soldatic talks about what it is she most enjoys about Castagna’s novel (and now, play).

“Everyone knows of someone who’s died because of a car accident. I feel like she [Castagna] handles that really beautifully. She handles that idea that Parramatta – the city – is a place and it’s who they are, they are connected to the city … That makes sense to me – their identity is in the city and, after grief, you’re looking for your identity again.”

She’s excited to have the chance to bring Castagna’s writing to life in front of an audience.

“We’ve got a great movement director involved, Sara Black … and we have a lot of video and multimedia involved in it,” Soldatic says. “It’s exciting that we get to add all these extra elements into this play to help bring it to life, and because it was a book, to really allow the audience into the inner world and the intimacy of these characters and their grief.“

The world premiere season of The Incredible Here and Now runs through to 22 July. You can find full season and ticketing details below.




Thurs 13 July at 7.30pm (Preview)
Fri 14 July at 7.30pm (Opening)
Sat 15 July at 2pm and 7.30pm
Tues 18 July at 11am
Wed 19 July at 2pm
Thurs 20 July at 10.30am and 7.30pm
Fri 21 July at 7.30pm
Sat 22 July at 2.15pm and 7.30pm

Venue: Riverside Theatres – Corner of Church and Market Streets, Parramatta

Adult $39
Concession $34
From the Box Office (02) 8839 3399 or www.riversideparramatta.com.au
Transaction fees: phone $4.60, web $3.60 and counter $2.60.
Discounts available for Riverside Theatres’ Members.

 Approx 75 minutes (no interval)