A Conversation: Emotional intensity in confronting David Williamson play

poster-conversationA PLAY from Australia’s most respected contemporary playwright comes to the Old Mill Theatre this August.

David Williamson’s A Conversation – the second play in his Jack Manning trilogy – explores the use of “community conferencing”, a process where an offender and his victim discuss the perpetrator’s actions and attempt to find a resolution.

Williamson is known for his extensive range of work including Don’s Party, The Club, Travelling North, Brilliant Lies and Money and Friends and the screenplays Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously, Phar Lap and Balibo.

In A Conversation, Scott is imprisoned for the rape and murder of a young woman and his struggling single mother Coral arranges a meeting with the victim’s upper-class parents and the prison psychologist who counselled her son.

Gino Cataldo and Lis Hoffmann play the parents of a rape and murder victim in David Williamson’s emotionally intense A Conversation.

Gino Cataldo and Lis Hoffmann play the parents of a rape and murder victim in David Williamson’s emotionally intense A Conversation.

She asks Jack Manning to mediate but things gets off to a bumpy start when it’s revealed Coral may have an ulterior motive.

Director Brendan Ellis previously directed Face to Face, the trilogy’s first play, for Stirling Players last year.

“Williamson is a well-known and respected Australian playwright, and in addition to being somewhat relevant to recent events in the eastern states, A Conversation is one of the best plays he’s written,” he said.

“The Jack Manning trilogy was inspired by the process of community conferencing, pioneered by the organisation Transformative Justice Australia. It’s an incredibly interesting concept that has had very little attention in WA.”

First performing as a four-year-old at an eisteddfod, Ellis has been involved with Stirling Players for the past decade and has undertaken a leadership role in its youth program over the past four years. His production of Hush Little Celia, Don’t Say a Word earned him a best director nomination at the 2010 Hills Festival of Theatre.

Jack Manning (Rhett Clarke) tries to mediate between the victim’s father Derek (Gino Cataldo) and the offender’s brother Mick (Brodie Masini) in David Williamson’s A Conversation.

Jack Manning (Rhett Clarke) tries to mediate between the victim’s father Derek (Gino Cataldo) and the offender’s brother Mick (Brodie Masini) in David Williamson’s A Conversation.

With A Conversation, Ellis feels the biggest challenge is the intensity of emotions his actors have to portray.

“It’s easy to overplay and ‘perform’ them but I’ve made clear to my actors the importance of capturing the honesty and heart of the situation,” he said

“These characters are real people and the things they deal with in the play could happen to anyone. I hope to portray these sensitively but also with a certain rawness – nothing’s sugar-coated.”

David Williamson’s A Conversation plays at 8pm, August 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17 with a 2pm matinee August 11. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book on 9367 8719, oldmilltheatre@iinet.net.au or right HERE.

Please note: the play contains adult themes and is not recommended for people under 18.

The cast includes Rhett Clarke, Gino Cataldo, Brodie Masini, Lis Hoffmann, Gail Lusted, Andrew Watson, Katrina Murphy and Natasha Stiven.

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on Mends Street, South Perth, opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post.