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Cloudstreet at Old Mill Theatre

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From page to stage: curtain up on Cloudstreet
Cloudstreet, Tim Winton, Old Mill Theatre, play, performing arts, Nick Enright, classic novel
Kit Leake, left, Nathan Hambly, Oliver Kaiser, Cynthia Pickering and Liam Crevola, at back, and Hayley Derwort, Chelsea Brickell and Rhiannon Cary, at front, are appearing as the Lamb family in Cloudstreet.

The classic Australian novel Cloudstreet by Tim Winton will open its pages onto the Old Mill Theatre stage this June. Adapted by Nick Enright and Justin Monjo and directed by Brendan Ellis, it spans 20 years in the lives of the Pickles and the Lambs, two families thrown together by fortune in a large, haunted house in Cloud Street, Perth.

The deeply moving, funny and tragic tale of Aussie suburbia tells a universal truth about the meaning of home and urges of the human heart, as two utterly mismatched families crammed under one crumbling roof learn to live together.

Cloudstreet has been described as an allegory for the Australian experience, touching on subjects as diverse as the isolation of indigenous people and sexual revolution of the 1960s. While the original novel won the Miles Franklin Award in 1992, the stage version has gone on to triumph in Zurich, Dublin, London, New York and Washington, picking up the 2002 Helpmann Award for Best Play.

Cloudstreet, Tim Winton, Old Mill Theatre, play, performing arts, Nick Enright, classic novel
Cloudstreet features Hayden Tognela, left, Phil Barnett, Madelaine Jones, Leoni Leaver and Brad Albert as the Pickles family.

"Every full-length show I've directed so far has been Australian and I wanted to continue that trend because I think it is so important to see Australian works on stage," Brendan said. "Cloudstreet's dialogue is full of beautiful imagery, faithfully adapted by the playwrights, and there are so many great characters that I can guarantee audience members will be able to relate to at least one and say 'I've been there'.

"A lot of content has been removed or is only alluded to in the play – the big milestone moments remain but the smaller details have taken a back seat. They will be portrayed by the actors through physicality and their emotion, rather than through dialogue."

Cloudstreet, Tim Winton, Old Mill Theatre, play, performing arts, Nick Enright, classic novel
Quick (Nathan Hambly, left) and Fish (Oliver Kaiser) in Cloudstreet.


Involved in theatre for more than 15 years, Brendan has appeared with Stirling, Playlovers, Limelight, Marloo, Melville, Garrick and Groovy Boots Theatres and ARENAarts in productions such as Maskerade, Miranda and Twelve Angry Men, among many others. He directed David Williamson's A Conversation at the Old Mill Theatre in 2013, winning the annual Milly Award for best director and best production, and also directed Ninety at Garrick Theatre in 2014, another best production winner.

"Cloudstreet is by far the largest show I've ever directed," Brendan said. "It has 17 cast members and more than 100 scenes across three acts. Scheduling rehearsals has been a struggle but the actors are so smooth and the scenes go by so quickly that I think audience members will be surprised by how fast the show goes."

Cloudstreet, Tim Winton, Old Mill Theatre, play, performing arts, Nick Enright, classic novel
Lamb and Pickles come together in Cloudstreet… Lester (Kit Leake, left), Oriel (Cynthia Pickering), Quick (Nathan Hambly), Rose (Madelaine Jones), Sam (Phil Barnett) and Dolly (Leoni Leaver).


Madelaine Jones plays Rose Pickles, a strong character who has had to grow up fast. "Her childhood at Cloud Street has been tough, to say the least, but she learns to call the old house her home," she said. "Throughout the play, Rose learns to love and accept her family and, most of all, respect herself. The challenge is to show Rose's 20-year journey of growth and change over just a couple of hours."

Acting, directing and writing for the past 10 years, Madelaine has worked with the Old Mill, Blue Room, Stella, Endless, Upstart, WA Youth and Harbour Theatres, Subiaco Arts Centre and Graduate Dramatic Society in productions such as Love Is A Noun, The Distance From Here, Romeo and Juliet, Another Twin, Flesh Wounds, New Two, Jane Eyre, Three Sisters and You Missed The Turn Off.

"The appeal of Cloudstreet was the rich language, strong symbolism and multi-layered characters," she said. "More specifically, it was the honesty of Rose's character, her sharp sense of humour and the relatable world she lives in."

Cloudstreet, Tim Winton, Old Mill Theatre, play, performing arts, Nick Enright, classic novel
Lester (Kit Leake, left) and Oriel (Cynthia Pickering) aren't happy with the news from their son Lon (Liam Crevola) and his girlfriend Pansy (Nikki Di Camillo) in Cloudstreet.


Cloudstreet plays at 7.30pm June 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30 and July 1 with 2pm matinees June 18 and 25. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book at oldmilltheatre.com.au/tickets or on 0475 895 701. Please note: the show is rated M15 and features coarse language and implied sex scenes.

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).

Cloudstreet, Tim Winton, Old Mill Theatre, play, performing arts, Nick Enright, classic novel
Quick Lamb (Nathan Hambly, left) and Rose Pickles (Madelaine Jones) go courting in Cloudstreet – with Fish (Oliver Kaiser, at back) never far behind.

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Why? A great Australian novel – arguably, the greatest – gets a new life lease of life on stage, reflecting who we are and where we came from.
When: 7.30pm June 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, July 1; 2pm June 18 & 25
Phone: 0475 895 701
Where: Old Mill Theatre, Mends Street, South Perth
Cost: $25, $20 concession
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