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Cast

Yerma - Freya Timmer-Arends

Juan - Alexander Loadman

Victor - James Dale

Maria - Roisin O'Neill

Dolores/Woman - Elise D'Amico

Woman - Madeline Rintoul

Young Woman - Catherine Baker

Crew

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Director - Melanie Thomas

Assistant Director/ Choreographer - Cadi MacInnes

Stage Manager - Jett Thomas

Assistant Stage Manager - Kiara Martin-Pico

Composer - Sheridan Killingback

Fight Director - Joshua Bell

Lighting Designer/Operator - Calysta Morgan

Poster Design - Monique Kleidon

Marketing - Catherine Baker

Program - Madeline Rintoul

Artistic Director - Emma Sproule

Synopsis

‘Faith is the bird who feels the light when the dawn is still dark’ – Rabindranath Tagore

From the outside, Yerma and Juan have a fulfilling life. As years of childless marriage turn into despair,  ridicule and unyielding sorrow, Yerma’s yearning for motherhood grows to a blinding obsession. Originally written in 1934 and forming the second part of Lorca’s ‘Rural Trilogy’, Yerma explores the immutable plight of a young woman, desperate to conceive and the bitterness that births when disillusionment and dreams are slowly crushed within the passage of time.

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Federico García Lorca, (1898 - 1936), was a Spanish poet, playwright and artist who, in a career that spanned just 19 years, resurrected and revitalised the most basic strains of Spanish poetry and theatre. In the early 1930s Lorca helped inaugurate a second Golden Age of the Spanish theatre. He is most known for his Andalusian Trilogy (Blood Wedding, Yerma, The House of Bernard Alba).

He was executed by a Nationalist firing squad in the first months of the Spanish Civil War. In 1986 the Spanish government marked the 50th anniversary of Lorca’s death by erecting a monument on his murder site. The gesture bears witness to a man whose work continues to influence writers and artists throughout the world of all that is most central to the human condition.

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Director's notes

I am reminded of the Fig Tree from ‘The Bell Jar’. The one that branches out and from every branch is a different possibility, a wonderful future that beckoned and winked. The branches reach to every avenue, a different life to lead. As she stands trying to make a decision, a fig withers and plops to the ground, and another until they are rotting into the ground. For Yerma, there is only one reason for her existence, and she is handed a withered, mouldy fig. She yearns to live; she beckons it with every fibre of her being. She processes what she sees through her voice, and (in my version) her dreamscape, just like Plath processing her branches into her poetry.

I see and hear so much of Plath’s work in this translation. Plath always subverts symbolic meaning and plays around with classic meanings. She always alludes to the meaning between the spaces of her words. The beauty in the surroundings and the cycles of nature. Lorca’s representations of religion and classical notations within mythology and rites are a powerful statement on the polarities that govern our lives. Those that elicit massive changes when contrasting systems are placed in direct and open conflict. 

 

Both Plath and Yerma show the inherent heroism of the act of liberation, for each woman has freed herself of the oppressor. For both their deeds bring personal anguish and social retribution into their final endings. We all move though life's challenges individually and overcome (or not) the rotten fruit that life hands us. As we delve higher into the canopy, we reach out into the sky and see the extraordinary view. 

 

The multiple branches of the tree. 

Working with this cast on the play that was chosen for them, rather than the one they auditioned for (thanks pandemic….) has been a godsend. Even though we had a halt for three weeks (again, thanks pandemic…), they came back into rehearsals with vigour and a dedication to honing what we had managed to get through before the lockdown. 

I could not have asked for more in Freya and Alex. They shine in these lead roles and are truly dedicated every moment that they are in the space. Roisin and Elise, as beautiful as always. They both enter rehearsals buoyant and professional to the very end. James and Cat, my comedians of the group, always making us laugh (and allowing us to forget how damn cold the rehearsal room was!). Madeline, thank you - you know why.

 

My production crew have been so fantastic to work alongside. Cadi has always been a source of inspiration and she has created beautiful movement pieces and has challenged me to see things differently. 

Sheridan has created some beautiful music for Yerma. Her ways and means of seeing music and plucking it out of thin air is an extraordinary talent. 

Jett and Kiara, the black ravens behind the scenes. Silent and, yes, deadly hard working.

Calysta for lighting up the stage so magnificently.

Heath and the trials of the vase. The thoughts and time put into shaping, and painting, and gluing, and spraying. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Catherine and her damn hard work in marketing and promotion for the company. 

To end, I want to pay homage to one poem that, to me, shows the trajectory of Yerma and Maria as if it was written directly from Lorca’s mind:

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‘Two Sisters of Persephone’ - Sylvia Plath

Two girls there are : within the house

One sits; the other, without.

Daylong a duet of shade and light

Plays between these. 

In her dark wainscoted room

The first works problems on

A mathematical machine.

Dry ticks mark time 

As she calculates each sum.

At this barren enterprise

Rat-shrewd go her squint eyes,

Root-pale her meager frame. 

 

Bronzed as earth, the second lies,

Hearing ticks blown gold

Like pollen on bright air. Lulled

Near a bed of poppies, 

 

She sees how their red silk flare

Of petaled blood

Burns open to the sun's blade.

On that green alter 

 

Freely become sun's bride, the latter

Grows quick with seed.

Grass-couched in her labor's pride,

She bears a king. Turned bitter 

 

And sallow as any lemon,

The other, wry virgin to the last,

Goes graveward with flesh laid waste,

Worm-husbanded, yet no woman.

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Cast and Crew

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Catherine Baker (she/her)

Catherine is a young performer previously starring in The Pythia dance troupe for a few Dionysus Theatre Arete Festivals. She co-produced the Dionysus Theatre 2020 Arete Morphed Festival, and recently directed McClelland College’s College Musical We Will Rock You. In 2019 Catherine completed her Intermediate Royal Academy of Dance ballet exam with Distinction, and became a Melbourne Theatre Company Ambassador.

Elise D'Amico (she/her)

Elise is thrilled to be back on stage after a couple of false starts. Her favourite recent roles include ‘Cassandra’ in Gemco’s Women of Troy, ‘Monica’ in After Dinner by the Sherbrooke Theatre Company and ‘Melinda/Harley Davidson’ in Accomplice with The Basin Theatre Company, for which she won several awards.

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James Dale (he/they)

James is an accomplished actor who joined Dionysus Theatre Company for their 2018 production of Trojan Women. In 2012, they performed in the Aspect Theatre production of Best Little Whore House in Texas, as an Aggie Boy. In 2019 he starred in MLOC’s production of Rock Of Ages as Drew. James has a Diploma of Theatre Arts with Melbourne Polytechnics.

Alexander Loadman (he/him)

Alexander was born in England. Since moving to Australia, he has performed on stage and screen. Most notably as Greg Sanderson in 'I'll Be Back Before Midnight' at Eltham Little Theatre, Statman in VCA Short film 'Statman' directed by Tom Kerrigan, and Hipster Dude 2 in soon-to-be-released feature film The Dealer. Alexander is studying at the Screen Actors Studio at NIDA Open.

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Roisin O'Neill (she/her)

Roisin has been immersed in the performing arts since she was very young and has not left the stage since. Roisin joined Dionysus Theatre in 2017 with their ‘Macbeth’ production as Macduff and most recently performed in two of the plays in their online Arete Morphed Festival. In 2018 Roisin was awarded with an Ariadne by Dionysus Theatre company.

Madeline Rintoul (she/her)

Before joining Dionysus Madeline appeared in multiple Australian Shakespeare Company Bravehearts performances. Her credits with Dionysus include Sam in Romeo & Juliet, Banquo in Macbeth, Emilia in Othello, and one of the Chorus trio in The Trojan Women - for which the trio was awarded a VDL Adjudicator’s Award. Madeline has a strong background in dance, especially tap and jazz.

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Freya Timmer-Arends (she/her)

Freya is excited to be performing after spending a some years exploring Europe. Some of her previous performances include Reporter 2/Germaine in Never the Sinner for 1812 Theatre, and the role of Vera Claythorne in And Then There Were None with the Malvern Theatre Company. For her performance of Johanna in Sweeney Todd with Beaumaris Theatre she received a VDL nomination.

Melanie Thomas (she/her)

Melanie has been involved in many facets of independent theatre, including: directing, producing, costume design and construction, acting, and writing. She holds a Master of Dramaturgy from the VCA and is the Artistic Director for Dionysus Theatre’s annual festival Areté. Melanie works as a Producer and Production Manager for theatre, cabaret and opera programming. She has completed professional performance, design and dramaturgy training with Katalin Trencsényi, Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre and Belvoir Street Theatre. Melanie could not be more excited to be involved within the Arts. It is truly what makes us all move and breathe.

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Cadi MacInnes (she/her)

Extensively studying theatre throughout school and university, and teaching at a drama academy, theatre has been a large part of Cadi’s life. Cadi has taken her love for performance overseas, traveling to the USA to perform in Los Angeles and the iconic DisneyLand parade. She has been a part of Dionysus Theatre for over three years and is grateful to be involved so extensively in this production, taking particular pride in the opportunity to breathe life back into theatre after such a troubling year.

Jett Thomas (he/him)

Jett has worked on many projects both on and behind the stage, he starred as Macbeth in Macbeth and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, with Dionysus Theatre. He has also directed several short plays in Dionysus Theatre's Arete Festival. Most recently, he stage- managed the Frankston Theatre Group Act 2's production of History Boys.

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Kiara Martin-Pico (she/they)

Kiara is an aspiring theatre technician who stage-managed Dionysus Theatre’s 2020 Arete Morphed Virtual Festival. In addition, Kiara co-designed and operated lighting for the Dionysus Theatre 2017 production of Macbeth, for which she was awarded an adjudicator’s award from the Victorian Drama League. Throughout secondary school Kiara had a strong focus on theatre, participating in over 30 shows in total.

Sheridan Killingback (she/her)

Sheridan is an independent composer who has previously been awarded a Dionysus Theatre Ariadne for her composition work in the 2018 Production of Trojan Women. You can find her on Instagram at @neaon.neaon, on Facebook as NeaonLive, and on Twitter at @sheridan8black. Listen on Spotify and Bandcamp.

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Emma Sproule (she/her)

Emma is an accomplished and award-winning creative who founded Dionysus Theatre in 2011. Over the past decade Emma has directed, produced and developed countless productions and initiatives. Developments include the annual festivals Areté and Sock & Buskin, as well as directing the Mainstage productions Exit the King, Blood Wedding, Romeo & Juliet, Lysistrata, Macbeth and Trojan Women.

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Thanks to our supporters!

Monique Kleidon - Monique's Moments

Joshua Bell - Captivate Action Ltd

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Dionysus Theatre acknowledges that we are on the traditional lands of the Bunurong, Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Peoples of the East Kulin Nations and pay our respect to their elders past, present and emerging. We extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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