21 June 2024

Ella tackles a sensitive topic in her directing debut at the Ten x 10 Playfest

| Chris Roe
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Ella Garland is about to make her debut as a theatre director at Wagga’s Ten x 10 Playfest. Photo: Chris Roe.

Fifteen-year-old Kooringal High student Ella Garland is about to make her debut as a theatre director at the Ten x 10 Playfest this weekend.

Under the mentorship of Wagga Wagga School of Arts (SoACT) veteran Fay Walters, Ella has steered a cast of five experienced actors through rehearsals for The Sensitivity Editor, one of 10 10-minute plays featured in the show.

“I went to a reading for the Playfest and I was originally auditioning for an acting role, but then they were encouraging people to try directing, so I thought I’d give it a go,” she explained.

“Fay offered to mentor me, and I already knew her and I admire her work, and so far it’s been really good.”

A total of 15 scripts were chosen from the dozens submitted for this year’s Playfest with the number whittled down to 10 based on the preference of the aspiring directors.

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Ella has been involved with drama and theatre performances at Kooringal High since Year Seven and said the move to an off-stage role was both rewarding and challenging.

“I’ve learned it’s a way tougher gig than acting because you’re responsible for everyone and what they are doing, not just yourself,” she said.

“You get to explore everyone’s storyline, and then play with how each character interacts with one another.

“Sometimes it’s hard because actors aren’t doing exactly what you want them to do and you have to find a way to pull it out of them to get what you want to see on stage.

“As an actor, you can’t see it from an audience perspective, so with directing, you’re sitting in for the audience and you’re making sure everyone looks good so that the play can be the best that it can be.”

Charlotte (Rebecca Huxtable) debates political correctness with authors from the past such as Agatha Christie (Viv Harling) in <em>The Sensitivity Editor</em>.

Charlotte (Rebecca Huxtable) debates political correctness with authors from the past such as Agatha Christie (Viv Harling) in The Sensitivity Editor. Photo: Chris Roe.

The Sensitivity Editor tackles the idea of how our ‘politically correct’ society deals with classic literature and elements that could be considered problematic. The titular editor engages in a dialogue with famous writers of the past including Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Mark Twain and PL Travers.

“They come to life and they tell our main character, Charlotte Data, what they think about her profession and how you can’t just edit out stuff because some people might get offended,” Ella said.

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Rebecca Huxtable plays the role of Charlotte and said that she loves being part of the Playfest each year.

“It’s fun, it’s dynamic and you’ve just got that 10 minutes of ‘bang’!” She enthused.

“It’s such a great opportunity every year for new producers like Ella to have a go and also for locals or people who are new to town who might want to dip their toe into acting or directing, because it’s not a major production.”

Rebecca said the variety of shows also made it a great event for the audience.

“You’re not stuck to watching just one play that you might not particularly like; there’s 10 plays one after the other so it’s more like a chocolate box of plays and it just has a great energy!”

The Riverina Water Ten x 10 Playfest opens at the Basement Theatre on Sunday and runs from 23 to 25 June.

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