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The Wardrobe at Playlovers Theatre

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Mother-daughter team open door to history
The Wardrobe, Playlovers, theatre, teens, teenagers, stage, performing arts, history, tweens, children, kids
Ashley Garner (top), Mollie McGarrity (middle) and Bianca Thomas (bottom), on left, and Matthew Manning (top), Christie McGarrity (middle) and Maddi Thomas (bottom) are in appearing in The Wardrobe.

Mother and daughter Kimberley and Elisabeth Shaw have united to direct a show at Playlovers Theatre this September and it also features Kimberley's youngest daughter Stephanie in the production. Written by Sam Holcroft, The Wardrobe is set over a 530-year period and tells the stories of various young people who seek refuge or comfort in the same wardrobe between 1485 and 2015.

From the War Of The Roses' last days, through English Civil War brutality, paranoia of the Plague and heartbreak of World War I conscription, right up to modern-day complications with social networking, the play seamlessly weaves humour with moments in history that ultimately depict the loss of innocence. Holcroft is currently writer-in-residence at the UK's National Theatre Studio and she was commissioned to write the play as part of the 2014 National Theatre Connections Festival.

The Wardrobe features 23 actors aged between 11 and 17 and 10 of them have professional credits to their names. Aside from Elisabeth and Stephanie, the cast also features four sets of siblings including two sets of twins.

The Wardrobe, Playlovers, theatre, teens, teenagers, stage, performing arts, history, tweens, children, kids
Kimberley Shaw, right, and daughter Elisabeth, centre, are both directing The Wardrobe with Kimberley's youngest daughter Stephanie, left, also in the cast.

Elisabeth and I were keen to do a show together and are both passionate about producing meaningful and challenging theatre for young people," Kimberley said. "Directing a show that takes place literally in the confines of a wardrobe is challenging to stage."

Involved in theatre for more than 20 years, Kimberley has worked with Blak Yak, KADS, Playlovers, Roleystone and Kwinana Theatres and is a former president and current committee member of the Independent Theatre Association, as well as being a performing arts specialist teacher at Sawyers Valley Primary School. She has several awards to her credit, twice-winning best production and best youth production at Dramafest, the annual state drama festival, and also twice-scored the best musical gong at the Finley Awards.

Elisabeth has been directing for three years, twice winning best production at Youthfest for The Evacuees and Izzy Icarus Fell off the Earth. She has also won the Finley Award for youth for sound design and operation and has worked as a stage manager, sound operator and actor for numerous productions.

The Wardrobe, Playlovers, theatre, teens, teenagers, stage, performing arts, history, tweens, children, kids
Stephanie Shaw, left, and Seamus Harrison are embracing their love of performing in The Wardrobe at Playlovers Theatre this September.

Stephanie, performing from age four, has appeared in a variety of productions including the WA leg of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Australian tour and has won numerous best actor awards, most recently taking out her age division for musical theatre in Storm The Stage.

In The Wardrobe she plays Ellie, a present-day high school student who finds an upset friend hiding in a museum wardrobe. "Ellie is one of only two characters who exist in the present day and some people might find the storyline controversial," Stephanie said. "It raises important issues about prejudice and bullying. It's a really unusual story, set over 530 years, and I'm doing it with people my own age, including many people I worked with on the musical 13."

Joining The Wardrobe is Following The Black Sheep, written by Perth playwright Yvette Wall. Directed by Campbell Greenock, the play explores the inner workings of a family just after the end of World War II as a soldier tries to deal with his haunted past.

The Wardrobe and Following The Black Sheep play at 8pm September 11 and 12 with a 2pm matinee September 13. Tickets are $20, $15 concession book on 0415 777 173, bookings@playlovers.org.au or at www.playlovers.org.au.

Playlovers is located at Hackett Hall, Draper Street (off Underwood Avenue), Floreat.
The Wardrobe, Playlovers, theatre, teens, teenagers, stage, performing arts, history, tweens, children, kids
Luis Barnes, left, and Chloe Marlow are two of 23 actors aged between 11 and 17 appearing in The Wardrobe.
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Why? More than 500 years of history are delivered through a TARDIS-like wardrobe, providing a window into the past.
When: 8pm September 11 & 12; 2pm September 13
Phone: 0415 777 173
Where: Playlovers Theatre, Draper Street (off Underwood Avenue), Floreat
Cost: $20, $15 concession
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