St Michael’s Grammar School is next door to the Red Stitch theatre and when the school approached the theatre company to collaborate on a production, it was impossible to say no.
Working with director Gary Abrahams and playwright Glynn Roberts, The Flock and the Nest was developed specifically for and with the cast of students (a role was created for everyone who wanted to be in it) and four Red Stitch adult actors.
They started with wanting to explore the gap between childhood and adulthood, the pros and cons of competition, and the concept of utopian lives and living the dream. The result is a story about a comfortable family in the city who seem to have it all and what happens when they meet and visit their cousins who live in the country in a small community who are trying to create their own dream.
By involving a cast of 16, it’s run time gets close to too-long, but any cutting would cut performances that don’t deserve to be cut. It’s more ambitious than many high-school productions and its biggest strength is how it feels like a story that the teen cast (from years 9, 10 and 11) had a large part in creating.
The structure and big-picture is from Roberts, but so much character development and character choices clearly come from the teenage actors. This gives it an authenticity, relevance and freshness that is often missing when adults write teenage characters.
As a collaboration, The Flock and the Nest blurs the line between high-school and professional theatre and suggests that collaborations like these could happen more.