28 March 2022

Roald Dahl to fire up imaginations at Tumut's Montreal Theatre

| Edwina Mason
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In a first for Tumut, a bootcamp and performance arts residency is being offered to students throughout the region. Photo: Supplied.

Despite his death in 1990, British author Roald Dahl lives on in the imagination of children around the world. These April school holidays, his wit and whimsy will come alive in Tumut.

The town’s historic and popular Montreal Community Theatre, together with the shake & stir theatre co, is presenting five days of frivolous fun with Dirty Beasts & Revolting Repertoire – a school holiday program designed for the entire family.

An event that has been in the planning for almost 12 months, theatre volunteer, committee member and event organiser Brooke Penfold said she is delighted to finally see it come to fruition.

“The theatre was all but closed during the past two years with a limited calendar of events and minimal community use, all thanks to COVID,” she said.

On the up side, there has been time for a small renovation which means the Montreal Theatre now boasts a beautiful theatre shop complete with liquor licence and chandeliers.

“It’s finally opening up with a nice set of events and the Roald Dahl school holiday drama program is the first of those,” Brooke added.

READ ALSO: Art and community centre to give creative minds in Narooma the facilities they deserve

The five-day program comprises a public performance of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, junior residences and theatre bootcamps.

Black and white photo of British author Roald Dahl

British author Roald Dahl. Image: Wikipedia.

All this under the watch of national touring contemporary theatre company shake & stir theatre co and its experienced team of professional actors and directors, whose business it is to take medium to large-scale works to major metropolitan and regional centres, annually.

Brooke said the active engagement and interpersonal experiences fostered through drama and theatre education can have overreaching positive effects for children.

“Humans like to find an outlet to show their creative side and performing arts is a perfect example,” she said.

“This allows children to discover and express themselves, it builds self-confidence, harnesses the imagination, improves social skills as well as listening and communication skills.”

Augustus Gloop of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Bruce Bogtrotter of Matilda, Bruno Jenkins of The Witches and Aunt Sponge of James and the Giant Peach are just some of the characters that arose from the whimsical fantasy titles Dahl created with his villainous humour.

Revolting Repertoire is a four-day drama residency for students aged seven to 12, which delves into into the wonderful world of Dahl, exploring his stories, poems and hilarious characters, culminating in a showcase performance for friends and family.

READ ALSO Community efforts continue to preserve Tumut’s theatrical history

But more than that, Brooke said the residency will help students build real life skills such as listening, flexibility, resilience and teamwork.

A stage and theatre seating

Community efforts have helped preserve the historic Montreal Theatre in Tumut. Photo: Montreal Theatre Facebook.

“All of which which apply in school and last well into adulthood,” she said.

Funded by bushfire recovery grants awarded to the Snowy Valleys Local Government Area for resilience and recovery projects following the Black Summer bushfires and private trust the Blakeney Millar Foundation, workshops will cater for a wide age range.

The Theatre Bootcamp is a three-hour drama masterclass for students aged 12 to 18 which uses myriad theatre games, activities and workshops to build stage confidence and develop a skillset used in auditions, rehearsals, storytelling and performance.

And Dahl’s Dirty Beasts will literally burst off the page in a spectacular live show for children aged three to 103.

Brooke has suggested those interested don’t “gobblefunk around” and get their tickets now. Bookings are available through the Montreal Theatre website or by calling Sounds of the Mountains on 6947 9100. Service NSW vouchers are accepted for this series of events.

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