23 December 2022

Christmas comes early for James Gillett and the Moruya Red Door Theatre Company

| Zoe Cartwright
Start the conversation
Anthony Mayne, John Gillett and Phil Barr looking at evidence.

Anthony Mayne, John Gillett and Phil Barr looking at evidence. Photo: Supplied.

Christmas arrived early for the Moruya Red Door Theatre Company this year.

James Gillett won a Commendation Award at the prestigious Canberra Area Theatre Awards, for services to theatre and community in Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders by the Moruya Red Door Theatre Company, written by Derek Webb.

Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders was James’ third play with the Red Door Theatre Company, and his fellow actors say his stagecraft has grown significantly.

READ ALSO Gundaroo remembers man of spirit, community stalwart

His mother and fellow actor, Brenda Gillett said James loved the challenge of performing.

“James has the very rare condition ADNP,” she explained.

“Basically, because of that condition he has an intellectual disability and is on the autistic spectrum.

“He will always need support to live an ordinary life, but thanks to the support of The Red Door Theatre Company, James has been given the opportunity to live out an extraordinary life as well.”

James Gillett as the policemen

James Gillett performs as the policeman. Photo: Supplied.

James has become a crowd favourite, culminating with his recent CAT Award.

The Red Door Theatre Company came together after now-president Anthony Mayne put out a call in 2016 to see if there was interest to form a local company in Moruya. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I vividly remember our first gathering in the Moruya Red Door Hall,” Anthony said.

“About 18 people showed up, including the very talented Linda Heald, who would go on and direct our first five productions and give us the artistic foundations we needed.

“From our first play, Babe in the Woods by Tony Nicholls, to our latest production, we have aimed to provide an inclusive and learning environment that is both entertaining and that brings joy to our community.”

Anthony said the company’s inclusive approach had unearthed many hidden talents in the area.

One young star is 11-year-old Vivienne Wilson, who was intrigued when she saw her granny, Liz Fletcher, in an earlier production.

“The Red Door Theatre has seen new actors from all walks of life take to the stage,” Anthony said.

READ ALSO Festive season fails to dampen farmers’ creative spirits

“After director Phil Barr saw Vivienne improvise on stage at the end of the previous show, he asked if she wanted to be in a future play.

“Her response was so enthusiastic you could almost hear it across the entire Eurobodalla – Vivienne has fallen in love with acting.”

The Red Door team has just concluded their seventh production, Agatha Crusty and the Village Hall Murders, to a sold-out season in their new home at the Moruya RSL Hall.

Anthony said he was delighted with the success of the company, and the way members built one another up – in more ways than one.

“With a cast of 15 actors, our director Phil Barr lived and breathed local community theatre by also acting, set building and helping set up the sounds and lighting for the production,” he said.

“But most importantly, he worked with James to enable him to build on his recent performances, leading to his CAT Award.”

The company is looking forward to a bumper 2023 with play readings, theatre workshops and then two one-act plays mid-year before a comedy drama at the end of year.

Anyone who is interested in exploring a passion for the stage is encouraged to become involved.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.