Third Door Theatre presents Away – Michael Gow's iconic Australian play first performed by the Griffin Theatre Company in 1986

"Away is a staple in the Australian theatre scene and having studied and seen the play many times as a VCE Drama teacher, it is a project I have always wanted to direct," says director Cale MacLaren of the largely autobiographical work.

"Set in the summer of 1967, three very different families embark on their Christmas holidays and driven together by the forces of nature, confront their issues and ultimately find healing and reconciliation. It is a timeless script, pitting classic Shakespearean motifs and themes against the social and political storm of the late 1960's and raises questions that are still relevant today."

"Set in a time of shifting civil liberties, a referendum on indigenous rights and opposition to the Vietnam war, Away deals with very human realities that are still current. The play requires us to appreciate the changing immigration policies that were taking place after the second world war and what this meant in terms of the changing face of Australian culture."

"Questions about identity, diversity and tolerance were as prevalent during this decade of cultural revolution as they are topical in our headlines today. At it's heart though, it's a very human drama that asks serious questions about loyalty, duty and love, but the play is also very comic and playful. We can't help but enjoy the stereotypes of modern Australian culture in Gow's script and the way he employs Shakespearean devices to develop the narrative."

"It becomes clear that these characters need our pity, trapped in what feels like a kind of purgatory between the past and the future. It's important to me that the play ends with hope, that the characters who seek reconciliation with themselves and with others, find it. That they find it with through the healing power of the natural world says something about the beauty and diversity of our land and the relationship between nature and man."

"The play calls for a mature cast and we've been blessed with a skilled ensemble who have handled the material sensitively and respectfully. It's funny, deep, stirring and refreshing, even while it's arguable one of Australia's most studied and performed plays."

MacLaren  has had quite an extensive career in the creative arts teaching secondary drama for nearly ten years before leaving full time teaching to start his own performing arts company 3dArts, with his wife Colette and focusing more on freelance work as an actor, director and writer.

"I now consider myself a professional Arts community worker, and giving birth to 3dArts, a community based Arts production organisation, has by far been the most rewarding part of my journey," admits MacLaren. "We have partnerships in schools about developing leaders in the Arts, and hubs of community access classes for students as well as Third Door Theatre and our dance crew, Footworks."

"I'm very fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to be acting, directing and developing work all the time and sowing into vulnerable and needy places in the community where the Arts are a vital part of strengthening culture. Away has been a part of that puzzle and I look forward to sharing the process and the product with others."

Third Door Theatre is a theatre production company based in Melbourne and committed to making theatre with integrity. It was developed out of an actors ensemble called the Ministry of Drama that had been acting together for many years and who met through Crossway Baptist Church in Burwood East. Third Door Theatre was formed by the group and continues to be run as community theatre group by the core team who are made up of those original performing members. "

"We like to think of ourselves as a sort of extended family and new additions to the family come along with every new production," explains MacLaren. " Last year was a highlight with a sell out season of The Importance of Being Earnest and an original interactive family show, Family Games Night in the Melbourne Fringe Festival."

MacLaren really believes in making theatre that not only asks questions, but adds beauty and integrity to the Arts culture in Melbourne. "We try to do this in everything we make, cultivating an expression of community that places high value on people as well as projects. There is a unique space that we can create in the Arts where community converges to create culture, where Art collides with our lives to draw out meaning and significance. I'm interested in that space."

"We're a mix of professional and emerging performers, people from a whole variety of backgrounds and beliefs, but what we're creating goes beyond that. It's the colourful and beautiful thing that gets created when a bunch of very different people come together for something bigger than themselves."

"Third Door exists so that we can add to what is already an incredibly diverse theatre scene in Melbourne, and we want to do it by respecting our craft and serving the script, but also by serving each other and the community we're a part of. We hope we've been able to achieve that with Away."

Ticket booking: or 0404 844 179/0414 643 077 August 1,2 & 7,8,9 August (1pm School Matinee on 8th SOLD OUT) David Williamson Theatre, 144 High Street, Prahran.