First staged in 1983, Donald MacDonald’s fabulous Australian play, Caravan, is set to roll onto the Frankston Theatre Group’s stage in April – and what a show it will be!
MacDonald’s comedy about five friends taking a holiday in our iconic get-about – the caravan – tackles issues of friendship, age, relationships and holidays you should never have. The latter is certainly relatable for director, Roy Thompson, whose memories of past holiday experiences may, indeed, have been a big pull when opting to direct this show. He admits to being on camping holidays that have turned out to be disastrous but “we laugh about them now,” he says.
In the confines of the ‘van’, MacDonald is generous with both humour and wounded pride – heads are smacked onto low beams while we are also privy to the machinations of partners and friends as they come to terms with lines drawn in the sand.
“It’s a social divide,” says Thompson. “There are those people that prefer their comfort and others that are looking for adventure. The relationships between husbands and wives are put to the test.”
For Thompson, it was a play he was destined to direct admitting that when he first read the play many years ago, he laughed out loud a number of times. “Macdonald wrote a fantastic scene where the two drunken wives have true confessions,” he says. ” I can relate to this scene. I have seen drunken men slurring, “I love you mate” “And I love you mate” Funny to see two women carrying on like this.
Caravan is one of our most performed plays but the set design is tricky because the whole event transpires inside , yes, you guessed it, a caravan. Most set designers will opt for a cutaway, because of it’s simplicity, but this specific set design does mean that a more creative application needs to be made in other areas.
“Sight lines, lighting was going to be a problem,” explains Thompson. “However my set designer David McColl and my lighting man, Keith Gledhill are both very good at what they do. They help me overcome these problems.”
As a director, Thompson’s criteria for choosing a play is two-fold: humour and human drama.
“If a play makes me smile or laugh as I read it is the one I will select,” he says, “And I look for conflict. Conflict of dialogue, conflict of attitude. I don’t believe a play, drama or comedy works if there is no conflict.”
In the rehearsal room, Thompson enjoys watching the way in which the characters develop. His style is to allow the actors to find the character with his particular joy coming from working with the Newbies. “Showing them the correct way to turn, using their upstage hand. Tempo of the dialogue and such,” he says.
Thompson also admits to getting a lot of fun sitting in the Green Room just reading the script with the actors where he likes to dissect the script into four sections. “We spend one night repeatedly going over one section. This helps the actors to learn quicker. It also helps me, help them with their characters,” he explains.
The rehearsal process should be a journey of discovery for both director and actor. Thompson acknowledges that he loves the blocking process adding that he never preconceives the way in which he will move the cast. “I fly by the seat of my pants,” he says. ” I work with my cast as an Ensemble group. There are many times the best moves come from the mouth of one of the cast. ”
Thompson’s journey across to FTG more than three decades ago was due to his viewing a couple of their productions and being impressed with their work. This lead him to audition for Dimboola (another iconic Australian fare!) ” It was great to get involved with the members,” he explains. “I was made very welcome. It is my second home. Been a member for 30 plus years. Directed many plays. Been on many plays. A committee member, worked back stage, front of house and in the bio box. The full gamut of being in amateur theatre. ”
Find out what happens when five best friends, nudging forty and hating it, take their very first holiday together in a caravan. One of them brings along his new, all-too-young girlfriend who threatens the holiday from the start. In the confined space of a caravan, tensions rise, secrets leak, and the laughs begin.
Caravan is not to be missed!
SEASON DATES: 5th ,6th , 12th & 13th April @ 8pm 14th April @ 2pm
Cabaret style seating – BYO nibbles and drinks
Groups 8+ $26
1300 665 377
Images: Grant Kennedy