The Coffs Coast Advocate

The Simple Gift marks 25 years for Coffs directors

WHEN the curtain rises on The Simple Gift at the Jetty Theatre on March 4, it will mark the 25th anniversary of work by director Sue Dickinson and drama coach Norma Anderson for Coffs Harbour's Bootlace Productions.

“It is important news because we don't do a show every year, people don't know we exist,” Sue Dickinson said.

The two directors, with Jan Strom are the three remaining original members of Bootlace Productions, which began in 1984.

It will also be the world premiere of The Simple Gift as a stage production.

Sue Dickinson has adapted the free verse novel, which is on the Higher School Certificate English syllabus for the first time this year, for the stage.

The Simple Gift has been described a 'a stunningly crafted tapestry of warmth, tenderness and gentle humour that wraps around a story of hope, new life and is forged from the friendships between young and old.

“I've always loved it since I read it four or five years ago,” Sue Dickinson said.

“I was teaching drama at the time and had read The Spangled Drongo, Steven Herrick's book for primary school kids.

“On June 29 I got the book (The Simple Gift) off the shelf and emailed Steven Herrick the next day and he emailed me back from the south of France - he is the most amiable man.

Sue has adapted the book for the stage by changing nothing - using monologues linked with dialogue, lighting and special effects.

The set is a combination of some period aspects and some 'real' things, with Billy's old train carriage home a replica of something from 1926traikn

Negotiations are now under way for the author, one of Australia's most popular poets, to attend some school shows.

The cast includes Tom Fry as Billy; Rhiannon Pettett as Caitlin, Chris Gooley as Old Bill and Kyla Brogmus and Hayley Mulroney as Kate and Petra.

The Simple Gift will be at the Jetty Theatre from March 4 to 14 and the performance schedule will include daytime shows for schools.

The Simple Gift will be performed on March 4, at 8pm; March 6 at 11.30pm; and March 7 at 8pm; March 8 at 2pm; March 12 at 11.30am; March 13 at 11.30am; and on March 14 at 2pm and 8pm.

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