Postcard from Tassie

Hobart, I have already decided after being here for four days, is the most beautiful city I’ve been to in this country! What a treat to wake up to a beautiful harbour, Georgian architecture and amazing hospitality! The seafood is amazing, Port Arthur terrifying and the coffee as good as any I’d get back in Melbourne or Sydney! After our two-week break from the Actors at Work tour, it’s nice to be welcomed back to our Macbeth Intensive and Midsummer Madness shows with the appreciation and hospitality of these fine Tasmanian folk! Our students have across the board been incredibly responsive to our work and as always, it’s a joy to perform Shakespeare to enthusiastic learners; teenagers open to the possibility of live storytelling.

Today, whilst visiting the Clarence High School in Bellerive, I had a few minutes to browse some framed photos hanging along the hallway of the school. Various alumni were proudly staring at me and I couldn’t help but smile when I came across a picture of one of Australia’s most celebrated stage and screen actresses, Essie Davis. Here she was, in all her glory, with an inscription that told me she had attended the Clarence High School from 1982-1985. I had to take a photo of it! Tasmania, it seems, boasts some of the greatest talent. I first saw Essie Davis perform in 1993, when she played the title role in Bell Shakespeare’s first production of Romeo and Juliet. Since then I have seen her in a handful of films, several more times on stage, once, most notably in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Our theatre talent comes from such a wonderful variety of places across this country. So, Essie Davis began her career and perhaps love for Drama in a humble public school down here in Tasmania. It’s nice to be reminded that even though we often see Melbourne and Sydney as the hubs of Australia’s theatre world, our creatives, our actors, our performers come from all over the place. Talent is not confined or limited to the bigger cities! It made me wonder how many current students are out there, beginning their passion for theatre in high school, private or public, in Drama Classes and extra-curricular performance experiences. Chances are, so many of Australia’s future actors and theatre practitioners we have already met, at one school or another as we travel the country taking Shakespeare to the new generation. If those students are out there reading this, you better believe it. The theatre world has room for you and it doesn’t matter whether you hail from a state capital or small regional town, island, coastal village or outer suburb. Essie Davis would surely agree!

– Paul


One Comment on “Postcard from Tassie”

  1. James Evans says:

    So true Paul. And of course John Bell himself grew up in regional NSW and went on to become one of the most respected and loved artists in the whole country.

    Enjoy the beautiful delights of Tas!

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