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The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth


Armidale Town Hall – March/April 2013
Directed by Jean Freer and Mike Gibson
Produced by Diana Helmrich and Marg Kennedy

By David McGillvray & Walter Zerlin, Jnr. By arrangement with Origin Music Australia on behalf of Samuel French Ltd.


The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of Macbeth depicts a group of very sincere Guild Ladies working on a production for their local drama festival.

Rehearsing faithfully for nine months, the time has come to perform their master-piece before an adjudicator. The ladies have chosen Shakespeare’s MacBeth, however the old theatre adage, “it will be right on the night” does not come to pass, and whatever can go wrong in a theatre production does and how the ‘Ladies’ deal with it creates chaos.

The unfortunate Stage Manager, Henry is coerced by the formidable ‘ladies’ into an onstage role, Thelma the grand dame of the stage sweeps all before her – literally. Mrs Reece, the Society Chairman finds there are many rough patches she is required to smooth over and George Peach – adjudicator and theatre critic extraordinaire is there to witness it all!

Add three ‘secret, black and midnight hags’  and you have a wonderful cauldron full of ‘song and dance’ witches, the scheming Lady Macbeth, a recalcitrant ghost, a psychotic producer and over the top death scenes and props guaranteed not to work when needed.

So take an amateur drama group with more women than men, with aspirations in a different league to their talent, a missing Lady Macbeth, props that don’t work – or work too well and too often – and even Shakespeare would struggle to recognise the Scottish play(best to play it safe, you can never be too careful).


Jean and I have had a long history of collaboration in the theatre in Armidale but this is the first time we have ever co-directed. We both approached this project with a certain amount of apprehension because as directors we both know exactly what we want and the spectre of dissension was a fairly daunting one.

Much to our great delight we have discovered our fears were unjustified. When it comes to theatre we have very similar ideas and the process of brain-storming comes naturally to us both. The process was simple – if an idea worked it was adopted if it didn’t then we both agreed to let it go. This play is very much the product of happy compromise.

I remember seeing Jean in this play some 22 years ago. I sat with very a appreciative audience and we howled in delight as the various mishaps unfolded on stage. I remember thinking at the time how fortunate Armidale was to have a venue like The Playhouse to stage such shows and I couldn’t wait to get back to Young and announce the next play I was proposing to do there. As in Armidale the Young audiences loved the humour of the Farndale Ladies also, it was well received.

To revisit this play after so many years and to co-direct with someone as talented as Jean has for me been a sheer delight. Rehearsing with our talented cast became a joy rather than a commitment and provided us all with considerable opportunities to laugh at the sheer madness of the plot.

According to the pundits, laughter is good for the soul. If we can therefore raise just the slightest chuckle out of each and every one of our audience tonight then our efforts will not have been in vain.

It is our hope you enjoy the show as much as we have in bringing it back to you.

CAST (in order of appearance)

Mrs Reece (playing Lady Macduff, Doctor): Anita Brown

Gwynneth, the pianist: Laura Stodart
Mr Peach, the adjudicator: Ewan Paterson

Felicity (playing 2nd witch, Seyton, 1st murderer, Malcolm, Gentlewoman): Roslyn Manion

Thelma (playing Macbeth, Ross): Ingrid Morgan

Dawn (playing 1st witch, porter, 2nd murderer, Duncan, Fleance): Marney Tilley

Kate (playing 3rd witch, Macduff, Messenger): Tracey James

Minnie (playing Banquo, Lady Macduff’s son): Bianca Schloeffel

Plummer, the director: Gordon Cope

Henry, the stage manager (playing Lady Macbeth, 8 kings): Brad Crook


Producers: Diana Helmrich, Marg Kennedy

Stage Manager: Colin Barry
Stage Crew: Ruth Strutt, Methuen Morgan, Alex Robson

Set Design and Painting: Lenore Croker

Set Contruction: Colin Barry, Alan Wilkinson, Diana Helmrich

Choreography: Tracey James

Properties: Alan Wilkinson, Diana Helmrich
Sound: Gordon Cope, Luke Pavel
Lighting: Diana Helmrich with Luke Pavel
Prompt: Anne Keoghan

Costume Design and Construction: Margaret Sims

Costume Assistants: Dorothy Pollard, Diana Helmrich
Dressers: Margaret Sims, Rhiannon Wright, Anne Keoghan
Make-up: Mike Gibson

Rehearsal understudies: Anne Keoghan, Ruth Strutt

Front of House: Martin Mantle with Rob Freer, Dorothy Pollard, Garry Slocombe, Cheryl Landers, Benjamin Thorn, Cecile Michels, Crystal Brunyee, Lisa Quast, Jody Brash, Margaret Kenndy

Ticketing: David Trestrail, Margaret Kennedy

Publicity: Ingrid Rothe
Graphic Design:
Photography: Terry Cooke Photography, Tracey James
Editorial Assistance: Mike Gibson, Jean Freer, Marg Kennedy
Marketing and Promotion: Ingrid Rothe of Vivid Marketing Services
ADMS Communications and Events: Neil Horton, Marney Tilley


Armidale Dumaresq Councril for assistance with the hiring of the hall particularly Shane Burns, Michael Riordan and Martin Mantle, The Daily Ritual Tea & Coffee for their donation of a hamper, Broadlex for the loan of their piano dolly, Rhonda Forrest for the loan of a moon boot, Kerrie Sauer of Ascent for the shredded paper for snow, Gaye Sheehan of Armidale Laundry Service for the Ghost’s sheet (sorry about the blood Gaye).

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