Arts & Culture

South Coast arts community mourns the loss of Linda Heald

Genevieve Jacobs 11 June 2020
Linda Heald standing in park.

Moruya Red Door Theatre Company’s artistic director Linda Heald has lost her battle with cancer. Photo: Ian Campbell.

The NSW South Coast creative community is mourning after the artistic director of the Moruya Red Door Theatre Company, Linda Heald, lost her fight with cancer.

Linda was also Eurobodalla Shire Council’s chief librarian and an enthusiastic proponent for arts and culture on the South Coast.

“Linda exited stage left,” said Moruya Red Door Theatre president Anthony Mayne. “She had been battling cancer for some time, yet somehow managed to direct two plays during this time.

“The theatre was very important to Linda and I know from our discussions that it meant a great deal to her during her health challenges. She was so delighted for the company with the performance of A Comedy of Tenors as she was able to see the potential of the creative efforts really begin to shine.”

The theatre company began in 2016 when a group of Moruya locals gathered to discuss whether it would be possible to launch a theatre venture. Anthony conceded it was a big plan for a small community, but said the group was blessed from the start by the people who were willing to be involved.

“In 2016, on a cold Moruya night, a few of us gathered in the Moruya Red Door after I shared a small note in the local paper with an ambitious idea of kicking off a local theatre company,” he said.

“Little did I know that in that gathering was our future artistic director, writer, committee member and musician.”

With Linda as director, the company workshopped and performed five plays: Babes in the Woods; Peter Pan – The Eurobodalla Chapter, written by Linda and placing all original characters in the Eurobodalla Shire; All in a Night’s Work; Magical Moments Radio Show; and A Comedy of Tenors.

Linda’s sixth production would have been Duets. The show has been cast and rehearsals had begun, but COVID-19 restrictions put the company into recess. Anthony said he hopes the production will continue as a tribute to Linda, who had recently been recognised for her contribution to the group with life membership.

Linda also received a CAT nomination in the 2019 Canberra Area Theatre Awards for Best Original Work in All in a Night’s Work.

The Red Door Theatre is named after the Red Door Hall, attached to St John’s Anglican Church at Page Street, Moruya, where rehearsals and workshops take place. Final rehearsals and productions are held elsewhere in the region, including the Moruya Performing Arts Centre, while A Comedy of Tenors enjoyed a local tour, playing at Moruya Golf Club, Narooma Kinema and St Peter’s Anglican College in Broulee.

“Linda had a wonderful gift and the ability to modify a play to ensure there was room for aspiring actors to tread the boards,” said Anthony. “Shalom to our friend and director, Linda Heald.”

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