All-Female adaptation of David Williamson’s The Club hits Belvoir

2018 has been a turning point for women.

With the #metoo movement and a strong focus on the behavior of men towards women in general, it seems almost fitting for an all-female version of a strongly masculine play – David Williamson’s The Club. Capping off Belvior’s 2018 season, this is definitely a great goal for Sydney theatregoers.

The Club in rehearsal

Centred around a football club, Adelaide theatre company isthisyours?’s current iteration of piece is almost a nod to the recent establishment of the AFLW (Australian Football League Women’s), with Director Tessa Leong saying “I am so excited about directing this classic Australian comedy. David Williamson depicts the men of this world with scathing precision. Creating the first professional production of The Club with three female actors in the same building this well-loved play had its Sydney premiere in 1977, directed by John Bell, feels like an excellent challenge. Our company isthisyours? loves silliness and we’re also attracted by the everyday violence inherent in this classic. Women moving from being on the sidelines to being centrefield is kind of what we’re all about. Shout outs to the women of the AFLW who are paving the way not only for women in sport but women in the arts!”

Williamson himself has commented on the female adaptation of his work, welcoming the shift and challenging of societal expectations. “One would like to think that the heightened awareness of male treatment of women as highlighted by for instance the “me too” movement would have made the bad behaviour towards females seen in the play a thing of the past. Given the monotonous current revelations of continued bad behaviour by male sportsmen towards women this wouldn’t seem to be the case. One would also like to think the rise of female participation in AFL and League would also raise awareness of women’s sporting achievements but the pay and publicity given to these comps still indicate they are still seen by the male powerbrokers as an adjunct to the main game.”

Jude Henshall

With such an interesting and fresh interpretation of an iconic piece of theatre, I thought it necessary to speak to one of the 3 actors taking part in the piece, Jude Henshall, which opened last Friday.

Why do you think audiences should come see The Club?

It’s a David Williamson like you’ve never seen before!

What about an all-female version makes this production different?

Australians love to laugh at ourselves. We laugh in recognition when a mirror is shown to us reflecting societal norms and attitudes, coded behaviour, power structures etc and this female version sharpens the satire around  some of these recognised behaviours in a very fresh way.

How have you found working with a small cast?

We’ve been working together for just over a decade now so the casting was incredibly important, we are nimble and know each very well which means we rehearse rapidly and effectively. The only way we (as a company) have a voice is to create together so it really could not have been any other way.

What has been the most challenging part of working on the play?

Cramming a lot of ideas -which are actually questions we like to ask ourselves and our audience- into one show can be tricky. The balance of respecting plot, character, the writers intent and keeping that as the bedrock on which our interpretation sits is a fine line.

The Club is playing until December 22 at Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre.

Tickets are available at either Belvoir’s website or by calling the box office on 9699 3444. Additional tickets are also available at Playwave.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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