The lads and lass from Sligo known as Endless Theatre Company are about to open their second major production at The State Theatre Centre of WA, this time moving to the roomier and more expensive digs of rehearsal room 1 (which lies at the rear of The Studio Underground) with Neil LaBute’s The Distance From Here. They’ve got some good neighbours during their run, which begins tonight (3 September, at 7:30pm): their next door neighbour at The Studio Underground is Perth Theatre Company, performing Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, and their upstairs neighbour in The Heath Ledger is Black Swan with its production of Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor.
That’s definitely some rich variety from Perth’s competitive and ambitious theatre scene, and Endless are here to make sure their hat stays in the ring. I sat down with Endless’s Jordan Gallagher and Rebecca Williams, along with director Garreth Bradshaw, for a quick catch-up on their latest production.
Endless Theatre Company continues its collaboration with Upstart Theatre Company director Garreth Bradshaw; past collaborations include Upsart’s 2014 Fringe World entry, Romeo and Juliet, and Endless’s debut production, Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman. Not shying away from theatre that challenges audiences, Bradshaw pitched LaBute’s The Distance From Here as director of the production. Bradshaw felt that though the piece was first performed in 2002, the themes it focuses on fit in well with Australia’s current political climate and could have some parallels to the discussion on detention centres and the situation in Iraq (which obviously is still a gaping wound from when the play first opened).
Bradshaw describes the play as “classic LaBute, with people inflicting pain and suffering on other people because they can,” but he says it’s much bleaker and subtler than LaBute’s other plays. “With his other works, you can write it off as, ‘Look how nasty those people are,’ and then leave it at that. But with these characters, you feel for them a bit more, so it’s bleaker in that sense,” explains Bradshaw.
Bleak it may be, but it also has a dark humour to it, and Gallagher and Williams credit the cast for bringing out the funny aspects of the script. And with an array of accents from Irish to American to Australian, they’re all using their own voices rather than going for strictly American. Bradshaw and Williams justify this choice by pointing out the universal nature of the play; it could be set anywhere at any time, so they didn’t feel the need to tie themselves to any specifics.
“The play pushes the actors to uncomfortable places,” says Bradshaw, but this is what he and Endless relish when producing work. They feel that Perth theatre is still quite safe when it comes to content, so following up The Pillowman with a this piece seems to be a bold statement of intent consistent with their desire not to play it safe. There will be live and recorded music, and the tone will be “somewhere between surreal and naturalistic; [LaBute] gets poetic and uses some of the richest imagery I’ve seen in a LaBute play,” says Bradshaw.
Endless are also running a Pozible campaign to help with the cost of bringing their ambitions to life at the State Theatre, so if you feel generous and supportive, you can donate here:
otherwise, you can purchase tickets on Ticketek here:
and be sure to check out the Facebook event for full details and updates here:
The Distance From Here by Neil Labute September 8 – 13 State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth
Box Office: 5.30pm
Doors Open: 6.40pm
Approx. Finish: 8.30pm Directed by: Garreth Bradshaw Featuring: Madelaine Page, Patrick Downes, Nic Doig, Katie Rose Spence, Rebecca Virginia Williams, Jess Stenglein, Jordan Gallagher
Endless Theatre Company on Facebook
Endless Theatre Company on the web