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Step Outside The Box with Candlelight Productions

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by Ruth Henwood (subscribe)
I am a mum of two and Primary School teacher whose aim is to never be home during the midday movie. I believe that I am only ever a car trip away from an adventure.
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What makes a place a home?
Is home where the heart is? Is home where your hat is? Is home where your precious memories adorn the walls?

The complex notion of home, where it is, how one identifies it and what it's like to be without it was candidly bought up with a group of people technically considered as homeless in a bear all discussion. This small group all roomed at Carrical House in Hawthorn which offers long term housing for those in need and for the more vulnerable of our community members in a holistic and caring manner.

Outside the Box Candlelight Productions
The Loft at Chapel off Chapel is the perfect intimate setting for this powerful drama.

It's the unique and raw stories collected from this gathering and tales shared by the Servants Community Housing Staff that are bought to life so realistically on stage by the Candlelight Productions Community Theatre in their presentation "Outside the Box." Here the ideas and sense of home and homelessness, the realities and the stigmas attached are explored and challenged and although the main theme is homelessness the play asks you to look further and consider what makes a home in the first place.

The stories are told through many artistic means including drama, puppetry and music. It all begins with a beautiful and poetic conversation one character shares out loud with the audience setting the tone for the evening. The rest is broken up into a series of smaller impressionistic scenes. Different scenes introduce new characters and their tale of loss and trauma but also that of hope and dignity. Experiences with drug abuse, child abuse, fire and mental illness are a few of the topics that intertwine through their histories strengthening and shaping their ideas of home.

Outside the Box Candlelight Productions
Your program for the evening comes in a little box.

At first the short portraits the actors deliver seem disconnected from that of the others and the audience will be eager for more depth and detail from each scene, wanting to further build a relationship and understanding. However as more characters surface and resurface and more intricate lines of connections are explored, we soon see their relationships to one another and joint message of hope, dignity and respect being highlighted and intertwined throughout. However the interpretation of the relationships will be different depending on the viewer. My sister and I couldn't stop comparing the stories we had seen the whole trip home and it was astonishing how different our views were. Certainly made for a compounding conversation.

The play's success comes from not only it's power to provoke thinking from the audience and raise reactions, it's well written and clever writing but also by the amazing acting shown so gloriously by those on stage. Often the actors were jumping effortlessly from a dark, heavy scene to a fun and light-hearted one and at all times this was done with grace and evidence of not only a skilled craftsmanship but professionalism as well. Seriously keep your eyes peeled for all the actors on that stage in the future as they are mind blowing and brilliant.

Modestly dressed in black, only a slight tweak to their costume, be it a skirt or a pair of red boots, suggests to the audience that a character transformation has occurred. As an audience member you work hard trying to keep it all making sense in your head and things do becomes clearer as you begin to recognise the characters, their mannerisms and their connections. You can't help but sympathise, empathise and feel deep emotions towards them and their plight for a home.

Outside the Box Candlelight Productions
The acting of this Community Theatre Group will have you spellbound.
Image appears courtesy of Candlelight Productions

The stage is dressed with ladders and boxes of all sizes and shapes which are used in many different ways and take on many different forms like seats or desks or suitcases. The boxes remind us of the cubbyholes and rocket ships we built as children or the boats we sailed upon and the caves we crept into. This is a powerful message for me particularly as I can clearly recall the cubby house I created in an old television box when I was a child, but that was only for play.

Outside the Box Candlelight Productions
Powerful and provoking performances.
Image appears courtesy of Candlelight Productions

Be prepared to not have all your questions answered by the time you leave, in fact it may take days of speculation and considerable thought to simply unscramble the headful of new questions you know own. But if you're like me, then your will definitely leave with a new appreciation for Community Theatre and never underestimate its potential, the skill and the passion shown within this art form. I admit to having seen less of it as late, but after this show, I am converted.

This production is one that lingers and continues to occupy your mind for days on end. You may find yourself thinking back to the characters, situations and once again to the idea of what home is and therefore how one identifies it. Like most others I thought home was where my family was, where we built our memories and where we felt safest. Perhaps my approach is too simplistic to a much more complex ideal, but it does remind me how lucky are those that can genuinely think this way.

Grab some tissues, your heart, an open mind and let the characters from "Outside the Box" challenge you, provoke you with thoughts, feelings and stories you may have never contemplated before and hopefully when you leave you will appreciate that a home is so much more than just a house and a sense of home can be so much stronger than the physicality of bricks and a roof.
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Why? To share the true stories of tenants from a rooming house in Melbourne.
When: Thurs Sat 8pm, Sunday 5pm Friday Matinee 11am (23/8 30/8)
Phone: Candlelight Productions on 9017 0104
Where: Chapel off Chapel 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Cost: Tickets are $30 full price and $25 concession
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