Making good drama on the cheap

arabian-nightAdventurous programming on a shoestring budget is paying off for local theatre company Accidental Productions.

Formed two years ago by Flinders drama lecturer Joh Hartog and several graduates of the Flinders Drama Centre, the company has managed to combine high output with critical acclaim, recently gaining several nominations in Adelaide’s Curtain Call Awards as well as winning the prize for best professional ensemble for their production Worlds End.

Mr Hartog said the company was formed with two main aims: one is to stage interesting works, and the other is to help graduating students into the market.

Most of the company’s six productions to date have been of European origin.

“We wanted do to plays that don’t come from English-speaking countries; it’s not that we have anything against them, it’s just that they are done all the time,” Mr Hartog said.

The company is taking particular advantage of the products of Germany’s lively drama scene.

“Fortunately the Royal Court Theatre in England does a lot of them, and the Goethe Institute also commissions a lot of translations,” Mr Hartog said.

He said Accidental Production’s role in providing performance opportunities for graduating students is important, since finding acting work, let alone major roles, can initially be difficult for new actors.

“It maintains their confidence and it also maintains their skills,” Mr Hartog said.

“Some very talented people in our company might not have worked at all because the chances might not have come their way: instead, they have acted in several productions, and their skills are getting better all the time.”

Working to low budgets means that the company is not wholly dependent on funding grants or sponsorships, and getting back to basics can actually work in a production’s favour, Mr Hartog said.

“The great advantage of theatre is that it doesn’t have to be wildly over-produced: the imagination of the actors and the audience is a precious thing,” he said.

“Working on a shoestring also tends to make the creative team and the cast very inventive.”

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