Raining Talent. Free-Rain Theatre Company in association with 19th Hole Productions.Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, April 11-13, 2002.
Since its inception Anne Somes' Free-Rain has emphasised productions of well-known plays involving young people as actors and technicians, in recent times usually directed by her daughter, Kelly. Putting on Equus (Peter Shaffer) or Glengarry Glen Ross (David Mamet) has distinguished Free-Rain from other groups like Canberra Youth Theatre, whose work is more usually group devised, or amateur entertainment groups like Supa.
In Raining Talent, Anne Somes is putting her money, with some support from an artsACT grant, into work which looks more like Youth Theatre. The show is a collection of short scripted and choreographed pieces which allow a range of young people between 10 and 21 years of age to display their talents.
Though the material does not make for a thematically cohesive show, the set design by Kelly Somes and choreography by UWS Nepean graduate Kiri Morcombe is stylish and provides a visual frame which holds together well. Individual performances were all up to standard for the age group and levels of experience.
Is there a place for this kind of production from Free-Rain? Somes' position is that she is continuing a mentoring tradition which, for her, began when Jigsaw Theatre Company - the fully professional theatre-in-education team which has now grown into a wide ranging national production company under Greg Lissaman - provided space, technical assistance and administrative help to Free-Rain at the now defunct Currong Theatre.
This backing helped Somes' work become more firmly established and has led to an association with the Canberra Theatre Centre, with technical and administrative support strongly encouraged by David Whitney and his staff. Somes talks of having a "community conscience", looking for opportunities to assist young people to move out of their school environments into the wider world of theatre - and so she has picked up 19th Hole Productions, the ex-Canberra College group led by Soren Jensen.
So Free-Rain's theatrical niche does provide a slightly different experience, complementing Youth Theatre, Tuggeranong Community Arts and the others. Opportunities for young theatricals in Canberra abound.
Free-Rain's next production is Hotel Sorrento by Hannie Rayson, directed by Kelly Somes in August.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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