Two young lads from Ireland and a young chick from America who together call themselves Endless Theatre Company have moved their base of creative operations from Sligo, Ireland, to Perth for the coming year.
Their debut production in our fair city is Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, a very black comedy about a writer who is interrogated in connection with a series of child murders. I sat down with the trio to find out more about their adventures and ambitions, and why they chose Perth as their temporary home.
Endless Theatre Company founders Jordan Gallagher, a blue-eyed ringer for a young Paul Newman, and Kiefer Moriarty-Short, the self-ascribed brooding half of the duo, trained together through Blue Raincoat Theatre Company and decided to branch out on their own. Their first full-scale production under the Endless moniker was Mercury Fur by Philip Ridley, which they mounted at The Factory Performance Space (Blue Raincoat’s home in Sligo) in August of 2013. Their former schoolmate, Irish-American actress Rebecca Virginia Williams, heard about the show and decided to make a trip back from the States to her old hometown of Sligo to see ‘the boys’, as she affectionately calls them, at work. She fell in love with the work and the company and quickly asked to buy into it to become part of the creative team.
After the success of Mercury Fur the trio set their sights on Perth. Why Perth? Why not Melbourne or Sydney? First off, Gallagher’s family is here, which has certainly made relocation easier. Secondly, as Williams puts it, “there’s something romantic about being in the most isolated city in the world” and, for these young creatives, the chance to experiment, to grow their brand and company resume in a city where anything is possible, was too tempting an idea to pass up. So Kiefer made his way from Sligo and Rebecca made her way from New York, and the trio set out to take on Perth’s theatre world in person.
They had originally planned to mount their first production at Fringe World 2014, but were delayed for various reasons; in the meantime Kiefer and Jordan were cast in Upstart Theatre Company‘s Fringe World entry, Romeo and Juliet. Through the success of that collaboration, ‘the boys’ expanded their Perth network and began to build a team of enthusiastic fellow creatives who would, with Rebecca at last landed on Australian shores, help to put the wheels in motion for Endless’s Perth debut.
The search began, as it inevitably does for Perth theatre makers, for a suitable affordable venue and they hit upon a winner with the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia (STC). Gallagher began liaising with Alice Jorgensen, the Deputy General Manager of the STC, who began asking all sorts of questions about the work and about the company, expressing a lot of interest in the piece. Gallagher found Jorgensen’s interest a pleasant contrast from what he was used to experiencing in Ireland, where venue managers seem to care more about the financial viability of projects than their artistic merits.
Of Endless, Jorgensen says, “Endless Theatre Co have been an incredibly enthusiastic, driven and organised company to work with, especially considering how new they are to the independent theatre scene in Perth. We are excited to see how the mix of overseas (now local) and existing local artists creates a new take on existing work and how they make their mark on the theatre scene here.”
Indeed the team has been overjoyed with the support they’ve received from Jorgensen and the STC, which must be a great comfort for the newcomers making their first bold steps as a company in Perth. Being able to bring their first Perth audiences into the State Theatre Centre certainly looks good on paper; they’ll be performing in Rehearsal Room 2, which is “primarily used for rehearsals (as the name suggests) however we do also use it for pre-show talks, workshops, functions, meetings and showings of new works in development as well as small productions. Previously it has been used for public showings of new dance work in development and performances by DADAA,” says Jorgensen.
So what does the future hold for these three charming and enterprising theatre makers from Sligo? Their goal is to spend a year here in Perth, making theatre that showcases their range as performers and producers. They’ve got an eclectic season in the works that includes two of the team’s favourite plays, but which I’m not at liberty to name just yet. Jordan seemed ready to divulge their secrets, but Kiefer hesitated, perhaps wisely; this is a sign of a healthy working dynamic, with one party bounding forward and another party gently pulling the other back.
They’ll also be producing a devised adaptation of a popular children’s work that will allow them to incorporate elements of their French physical theatre training, which is a major source of inspiration for the team’s creative approach. They’re hoping to mount four shows back-to-back, with only a few weeks break in between; a very ambitious plan, but these three are young, focused and organised, so with a bit of luck (which they should have in spades, being that they’re Irish) they’ll be able to see it through.
But once they’ve done their four shows, it’s back to Ireland for the company; they’ve already got projects lined up for next year. No doubt a year’s worth of producing their own work in “the world’s most isolated city” will make sure they have a triumphant return to Sligo, and beyond. But who knows, maybe their time here in Perth will be so triumphant that they won’t want to leave. In any case, here’s hoping Perth’s performing arts scene continues to make connections with theatre makers from around the world, luring them in with romantic notions of our faraway but fertile creative grounds.
The Pillowman runs from April 14 – 19 at 8pm (no show on Friday the 18th) at The State Theatre Centre of WA
Bookings can be made online at Eventopia
Tickets $35 standard / $30 concession
Rated MA15+ for a mature audience