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Ghosts of the Olympic Theatre

Written and directed by Jane Woollard

In November 1843 the Olympic Theatre occupied the ground where Launceston’s Post Office now stands. We invite you to enter hidden spaces of the past, and follow the ghosts of Launceston’s earliest stars of the stage and their performing dogs.

This site-specific promenade through the heritage Launceston Post Office features renowned Tasmanian performers Colin James, Jane Johnson, Gerard Lane and Jane Longhurst. 


Writer/Director:

JANE WOOLLARD is a theatre director, researcher and teacher, and graduate of Melbourne University, VCA School of Drama and RMIT University. Jane’s doctoral research at La Trobe University investigated the life and work of Eliza Winstanley, star of the early Australian stage. Jane has extensive experience as a teacher of tertiary Theatre and Drama subjects, having taught at Monash University, University of Melbourne, VCA Theatre and at La Trobe University. Now based in Launceston, Jane is Head of Theatre and Performance at the School of Creative Arts, University of Tasmania.

 She has directed many productions and has mentored many emerging writers, performers, designers and directors, especially while in the role of Artistic Director at Union House Theatre at the University of Melbourne 1999–2002. Jane’s acclaimed playwriting and directorial work has included: The Hammer of Devotion, Jane Woollard (1994 St Pauls Cathedral); Wilful Blue, Chris Thompson (1995 Arts Centre Melbourne); Allegro, Pat Rix and Kate O’Brien (1996 Mount Gambier Theatre Co); Aelfgyva, Jane Woollard, (2003 Melbourne Autumn Music Festival); True Adventures of a Soul Lost at Sea, Kit Lazaroo (RE Ross Award, 2004 Trades Hall); The Time is not yet Ripe, Louis Esson, (GRAA Best Ensemble, 2006 Northcote Town Hall); Asylum, Kit Lazaroo (Wal Cherry Play of the Year, VPL Awards Shortlist, 2007 & 2008 La Mama); Letters from Animals, Kit Lazaroo (Storeroom Theatre Workshop 2007); Topsy, Kit Lazaroo (fortyfive downstairs, 2007 RE Ross Award); andBright Shiny & Green Nights Underfoot, Kit Lazaroo, (La Mama, 2015).  Jane’s play about Eliza Winstanley, Miss W Treads, was presented at La Mama’s Courthouse Theatre in September 2017.

 

Dramaturg:

MELANIE BEDDIE is a graduate of Sydney University and the VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) where she trained as an actor. She is an expert actor trainer, dramaturg and theatre director including artistic direction. She is a Fellow of the Australia Council (Dramaturgy). She was a co-founder of the $5 Theatre Co. and artistic director of the independent theatre company The BRANCH. She has a PhD from La Trobe University. This doctoral research investigates lineages in Australian Actor Training. Her publications include a chapter with Peter Eckersall and Paul Monaghan in New Dramaturgy: International Perspectives on Theory and Practice edited by Bernadette Cochrane and Katalin Trencséyi, Methuen, London 2014. From 2010-2016 Melanie was Lecturer in Acting at VCA School of Theatre. Most recently she has been teaching at Federation University, Arts Academy and at WAAPA.


Melanie was the resident dramaturg at the MTC from 1998-2000. In 2002 she co-founded the Dramaturgies Forum with Paul Monaghan and Peter Eckersal. In 2004 she received the Dramaturgy Fellowship from the Australia Council. She received a Gloria Fellowship from NIDA in 2009 that allowed her to conduct research in UK and USA regarding initiatives for developing opportunities for culturally diverse theatre practitioners. Melanie continues to teach acting at Federation University Arts Academy and at WAAPA while focusing on her own performing and directing work. Her most recent projects include as dramaturg on Jane Woollard’s Miss W Treads and a production of Crazy Brave by Michael Gurr at Carlton Courthouse in July 2018.


 Cast:

COLIN JAMES graduated from the VCA School of Drama (Acting) in 1993.

From 1995 to 1997 he worked as Community Theatre Worker for Mainstreet Theatre, Mt Gambier. His performance work with Mainstreet included roles in AllegroWoolaway, The Calling, Into the Web, and an adaptation of Coleridges The Ancient Mariner which he performed solo for the Beachport Community Festival. On his return to Melbourne, he directed a large scale community theatre piece in the west of called be~longing; created performances with disadvantaged youth in Epping, had the mandatory role in Neighbours and built a career in the arts and culture sector across five local government municipalities. As an actor he appeared in Aelfgyva, a medieval music theatre performance by Jane Woollard for the Melbourne Autumn Music Festival, and Topsy a dark fable by Kit Lazaroo about an electrocuted elephant, performed at 45 Downstairs, Melbourne.

Colin also sings, plays the piano accordion and writes music, and is now resident in Launceston. 


JANE JOHNSON  is a freelance actress and director and has worked with organisations including; Tasmanian Theatre Company, Mudlark, TasDance, Theatre North, Ten Days on the Island, Tasmania Performs, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, The Unconformity, and JUTE.  Jane holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Theatre - UTAS), was a founding member of Mudlark Theatre, and currently the AD of Launceston Youth Theatre Ensemble. Acting credits include; The Mares (TTC/Ten Days on the Island), The Tree Widows, Two Pairs of Shorts (TTC), The Sea Project, Beautiful: a Ghost Story, CrossVoices from the Grave, Rooted, What is the Matter with Mary Jane? (Mudlark), Dancing Back Home (Mudlark/JUTE), Our Path (Theatre North/Ten Days on the Island).


GERARD LANE has a Bachelor of Dramatic Art from the VCA – (Acting Company 2007), and a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Monash University (2003). Gerard has worked in Theatre, Film, TV, Cabaret, Musicals and opera for the last 20 years. Gerard’s Tasmanian credits include One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Launceston Players) Twelve Angry Men (Three River) U L G (Mudlark) One Day Redux (Mudlark) My Grandma lives in Gooligulch (Australian tour). TV credits include Winners and LosersCity Homicide and Offspring. Gerard is Artistic Director of Studio Space Theatre Co & a proud member of MEAA since 2007.


JANE LONGHURST is an award winning actor, broadcaster, voice artist and popular presenter of events big and small. She has worked extensively in theatre, television and radio since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1990. Her recent television credits include Rosehaven, Death or Liberty, Blue Heelers and GP. 

Now based back in her hometown of Hobart, Jane’s recent theatre credits include The Mares for Tasmanian Theatre Company, Gertrude in Hamlet for Blue Cow Theatre and Narrator for Terrapin Puppet Theatre’s premiere season of Finegan Kruckemeyer’s script You and Me and The Space Between. Jane has been a proud member of MEAA since 1986.