21 February 2024

Winners are grinners after a big night for Wagga's School of Arts

| Chris Roe
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Robyn Horwell, Diana Lovett, Iain Wright, Michael Mitchell with Wagga Wagga School of Arts President Lee Kennedy.

Robyn Horwell, Diana Lovett, Iain Wright and Michael Mitchell with Wagga Wagga School of Arts President Lee Kennedy. Photo: SoACT.

The Wagga Wagga School of Arts (SoACT) is celebrating success after bringing home four gongs from the Canberra Area Theatre (CAT) Awards in Queanbeyan.

The CAT Awards recognise the contribution made by non‐professional groups to the arts, particularly around the ACT and in southern New South Wales.

Neighbourhood Watch scored big, taking home Best Ensemble in a Play, Best Production of a Play and Michael Mitchell was recognised with Best Direction of a Play.

“It was such a mammoth undertaking, putting the show together but also a ton of fun,” Michael said.

“There’s a real vibrant energy within the School of Arts at the moment and it’s amazing that our little play has been recognised out of community theatres from Canberra and beyond.”

READ ALSO Community theatre to kick off the year with a February double act in Wagga

Actor Ian Wright won Best Performance in a Monologue or One-act Play for his role as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in The Return of Sherlock Holmes, which was part of the Riverina Water Ten x 10 Playfest in 2023.

“The Ten x 10 Playfest is a wonderful opportunity for actors and audiences to engage in theatre,” he said.

“It’s awesome because it gives new actors and directors lots of opportunities to get involved, and it gives more veteran actors an opportunity to stay connected with their craft.”

Ian was also recognised for his contribution as a member of the Neighbourhood Watch cast.

Neighbourhood Watch is the Best Australian Play,” he said.

“It was great to be a part of the Wagga Wagga premiere of the play and equally wonderful that the audiences loved it.

It goes to show that there is a thirst for modern theatre in our city.”

READ ALSO Albury’s barbershop quartet serenades sweethearts with song

Neighbourhood Watch is an award-winning script from writer Lally Katz and proved to be a challenging but rewarding show to direct and produce.

“Seven actors playing 29 characters – all on stage, all the time, took a lot of commitment and creativity from the entire cast and crew,” said Michael.

“Audiences loved the show which is all you ever want.”

The cast of <em>Three Chars</em> in rehearsal for the postponed production

The cast of Three Chairs in rehearsal for the postponed production. Photo: Supplied.

Looking ahead, Michal said work was already underway on the next show.

“We’ve got the production team back together and have started rehearsing another fresh Australian work, A Broadcast Coup by Melanie Tait, which will be staged in the Basement Theatre in April,” he said.

“I really hope that off the back of this, more people in the community start to consider getting involved and taking part in local productions onstage or off.

“There’s so much talent in Wagga, and I’m glad we get to showcase it.”

In the short term, SoACT’s February Fundays are continuing after a bout of COVID caused a reschedule and a new date was added for March.

The double bill of two one-act plays includes the Elvis-themed drama Are You Lonesome Tonight and the madcap comedy Three Chairs.

Tickets are still available for this Sunday (25 February) and for the new date of 3 March.

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