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SUM WHA

2017 Edition Digital Downloads: Summer Wonderland + Chasing The Whale

PLB2017 SummerWonderland 13JUL17Summer Wonderland began its life back in 2006. After a meeting at La Boite Theatre Company, I was trying to come up with an idea that would meet their request — “Bring new audiences to La Boite.” 

It was a trip out to see the annual Christmas lights that gave me the answer. Street after street of houses, covered in lights and decorations, celebrating a time of year when we let magic take over for a while. But there was something else. Owners would sit in chairs on their driveway, or cook sausage sizzles on their lawn. They would watch the smiling crowds walk by, looking for a response to their creation. 

Here, deep in the suburbs, an artistic exchange was taking place. Here the very idea of home was art. 

The La Boite production was a huge success, extending its season to meet demand. But it was what happened afterward that surprised me the most. 

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Requests started coming in from community theatres across Australia and New Zealand to perform the play. A play that spoke to their own sense of place. Their own experiences. Their own homes. 

Summer Wonderland has changed a lot over the years. Like a person, a play gathers a better sense of itself over time. I’ve made cuts and strengthened journeys. But always in the spirit of the original idea — that no matter who we are or where we’re from, we’re all in some way going home. 

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Chasing The Whale began its life back in 1999 when a strange image popped into my head. A man in a suit being chased by a desk. 

Intrigued, I began unpacking a story out of that image. 

I’ve been doing it ever since. 

The first version was performed at the Australian Theatre For Young People, directed by David Berthold. The second was at La Boite Theatre Company, directed by Sean Mee. Both were called The Dance of Jeremiah (a name I later abandoned), though they shared little in common. And what it is now is different as well. 

ShopNow WhaleTime and time again, I’m drawn back to this play. The central idea remains the same. The tired man, damaged by ambition, haunted by his creations. Yet every time it shifts and changes, absorbing who I am now. Ideas that once worked fall away and new ideas grow in their place. Over and over. Coming and going, like waves on the shore. 

I’m certain I’ll never be done with it. I’m sure it’s waiting for me down the road, ready to reflect who I’ll be when I get there. 

But here it is now. Here I am now. 

Still chasing the whale.

 - Matthew Ryan  


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