Blackheath Theatre


This weekend, my one-act play Ghost Hunting was going live on stage in the Blue Mountains, NSW, part of the Blackheath Theatre Company’s Out Of The Blue show of four one-act plays.

Over five performances, a community hall was to have become, for one enchanted half hour, a haunted house for the entertainment of audiences. We were delighted to be sharing the stage with three other magic spaces of wonder created by the talents of three other local writers.

Sadly, it was not to be.

Ten days before our premiere, the Blackheath Theatre Company informed us the entire season of Out Of The Blue was off, claiming the July 2022 weekend in question posed too great a Covid risk.

They became, in all likelihood, the only performing arts company in Australia to pull shows this weekend citing Covid risk.

Yet other local cultural events are enjoying full houses right now.

I deeply apologise to any theatre-goer affected. The decision was made without any consultation with the crews and cast and its validity has been hard for many of us to accept. C’est la vie. Que sera sera.

The sudden loss of Out of the Blue came as a major blow for the actors, crews and volunteers who put heart and soul into it over a very long time (we were postponed three times before due to lockdowns against which I had no objection).

And the trust it may well have fractured could potentially damage live theatre generally in the Blue Mountains community. If so, I sincerely hope that full trust can be recovered. A thriving live theatre scene is something, I’m sure, we all want to see.

Author photo: Kylie Blakemore (copyright). From left: Iain Fraser, writer-director, Underground; Brian Twomey, writer, Sweet Dreams, Baby; David Levell, writer-director, Ghost Hunting (three of the four Out Of The Blue playwrights).

So happy to find the Twisting A Tale writing competition winner is my extract from the ghostly novel I’ve been busy materialising recently! The competition, open globally, was held by the Charles Dickens Museum in London for a tale in the Dickensian spirit, and we all know how the old master relished a ghost story…

You can find the story caught in the web here.

The novel in question (working title Magpie: A Bush Haunting) is a major expansion of my one-act play A Bush Haunting, which was staged in Australia in 2019, directed by Liz de Koster and with Robin Martin, Ralph Andrews and Josephine Pennicott in the lead roles. The play is only a small part of the story now.

Adding to my over-the-moonedness re the result is the fact that, to me, Dickens is the unsurpassable Bradman of English-language novelists. Many thanks to the Dickens Museum, indubitably a London must-see and the very house where he wrote his first three novels. As for his ghost stories, I particularly like The Signalman for atmosphere and The Queer Chair for humouranyway, let us raise a glass of negus to his spirit.

A Bush Haunting photos: above, cast and crew; below (left to right), Joshua Wolterding and Tibby McKenzie; Robin Martin and Ralph Andrews rehearse their fight; Liz de Koster and Ralph in rehearsal.

Rehearsals are well underway for GHOST HUNTING, which I’ve written for the Blackheath Theatre Company’s upcoming OUT OF THE BLUE show of “one-act plays of the unexpected”. I’m also directing.

Set in a haunted room in the 19th century, Ghost Hunting follows the Ladies’ Ghost Society of NSW as they investigate supernatural disturbances at troubled Renfield House…

Abercrombie House near Bathurst (below) played some part in inspiring the setting. I’m sure it has ghosts of its own…

Out Of The Blue runs for five shows between Thursday July 29 and Sunday August 1 (Thur, Fri, Sat 7.30pm and two 2pm weekend matinees). Tickets available via Trybooking and more info at Blackheath Theatre Company

The full program is:

GHOST HUNTING written and directed by David Levell

THE GHOST WRITER by Stephen Measday (Elizabeth de Koster, director)

IF THE MOON by John Shand (Elizabeth de Koster, director)

IT’S THE WAY THAT YOU DO IT by Ted Markstein (Paulina Kelly, director)

SWEET DREAMS, BABY by Brian Twomey (Arwyn Karmudian, director)

UNDERGROUND written and directed by Iain Fraser