May is a massive month for theatre in Regional Australia. From Towers Players’ production of Oliver! in Charters Towers, to Devonport Theatre Company’s Whistle Down the Wind in Tasmania, and across to Goldfield Repertory Club in Kalgoorlie presenting A Season of One Act Plays, more than 30 regional theatre companies will be staging major performances in May, with a potential $3,000,000 in ticket sales – in just one month.
The range of productions on show is huge. Musicals, dramas, one act plays, even opera can be seen somewhere around the country in a regional centre in May. And contrary to appearances in some regional centres, the number of musicals and plays is almost equally represented.
Big and small productions are on show – from intimate productions such as Wollongong Workshop Theatre’s SignAL, and The Mount Players production of True West, to the big, and really big, musicals including an astonishing 5 productions of Wicked, all on in the same week, in Mackay, Coffs Harbour, Albury-Wodonga, Orange and Ballarat.
In the first analysis of its kind, RatNews analysed data from its What’s On Where page. The map alone shows the number and extent of the shows on offer but a closer inspection, reveals the impact these performances can have in regional Australia.
All up, 32 different productions are on in regional centres in May, with a total of 215 performances and a potential total number of ticket sales of almost 66,000. While ticket prices range widely from less than $20, to more than $50 for premium seats at some of the bigger shows, at an average price of $45 almost $3,000,000 could be spent on regional theatre – just in May. Even if only three quarters of each show sells, that’s still a significant investment in regional theatre companies, the people that volunteer their time and the communities involved. Plus there are probably a number of productions that RatNews has missed – and we’d love to hear from you (especially if you are in South Australia!).
RatNews interviewed several directors, producers and theatre company people and all agree that it demonstrates the strength of theatre in regional Australia. The range of creative abilities on show, the design criteria, production values and high quality staging means that theatre in Regional Australia is not just a bunch of amateurs getting together to put something on down at the local hall, but instead provides regional communities the opportunity to be involved in and experience theatre at its best. The work ethic of cast, musicians, production teams, back stage, sets and costume creators is as professional as the “professionals” – and when ticket prices in capital cities can be in excess of $200 a seat, it provides incredible value for money.
We also asked “why May?”, and the consensus seems to be that productions in May allow for a long enough rehearsal period after everyone has returned from their summer holiday period. A few responses also mentioned that any later and the winter season of coughs and colds begins – a nightmare scenario for actors and producers alike.
And once all these shows are over, after a few more months of rehearsals has gone by, there is going to be another big month of shows in November!