A few weeks ago I shared a little review of Paper, which was playing over at a The Owl and Cat Theatre, an independent theatre cum bar over in Richmond. I thought it would be good to share some love and support for indie theatres and shed some light on this amazing little place known as The Owl and Cat Theatre.
A reader so nicely pointed out how my blog name didn’t seem to reflect what I share when I featured a review of Paper. Well, here’s the thing, yes, this blog IS a mish-mash of different topics. As you can see from the tagline, this blog also covers topics surrounding lifestyle, which of course includes theatre and films – both of which I absolutely hold dear to my heart, seeing that I am a Media Studies major and teacher. And while I’m not limited to sharing independent theatrical productions, I thought it would be nice to support them as we all know, it’s through these little places that actors grow and get discovered.
Set up under the creative direction of Jason Cavanagh in 2009, The Owl and Cat Theatre began as The Owl and the Pussycat. It was at the end of 2014 when he sold this theatre and bar to Gabrielle Savrone, who carried on its legacy of supporting and nurturing independent theatre in Melbourne. Joining her is Thomas Ian Doyle, whom she met at university towards the end of their degree and after the completion of a rather intense creative project, aptly named – Intense.
Image by Ben Huppert
When I asked Thomas what the concept behind the theatre was, he explained that it aims to provide a hub for the local and wider community, for us to be able to see thought-provoking and progressive theatre. Their performances are all about ‘feeling’, challenging your thoughts but at the same time entertain you. Living in a century that is quickly becoming desensitised and numb, Thomas and Gabrielle strongly believe in continuing to push through the boundaries with the plays that they choose to showcase.
The theatre seasons are planned every few months, and are focused on sourcing new plays from around the globe. They favour plays that are unheard of and for the most part unproduced. The theatre receives over 300 play submissions per season and usually only 4 – 6 scripts can be produced.
Plays that often get picked are the ones with more contemporary and progressive style, which also reflect the voices of today. Together with such hardworking and talented local artists, the theatre is able to produce productions that are unique yet highly entertaining.
Unlike bigger, more prominent and commercialised theatres, The Owl and Cat Theatre usually has plays that run over a two-week season, and sometimes even over a five day period.
While they would love to run each production longer, the sad truth is they don’t get the audience. Thomas feels that not many people go to the theatre anymore; except maybe the theatre makers. Especially the younger generation. This is even more so when the plays aren’t peppered with singing and dancing. He even noticed that, with the more established theatre companies like MTC, where the audience are generally made up of an older demographic. Maybe it’s due to the fact that the younger generation aren’t as invested in theatre, or maybe it’s time to reassess how theatre should be made. Which is why both Gabrielle and Thomas are constantly reassessing the ways they approach making and curating theatre, thinking of what they can do differently and how they could make it relevant in these times.
The duo have plans to expand their audience, available funds, resources and network of talented artists. They pride themselves on showcasing indie theatre so, will keep their theatre small. They’d like to keep on producing edgy, raw and current styles, something I think they’re so far, very good at.
If you’re keen on supporting independent theatre, The Owl and Cat Theatre has got some interesting plays this season, with Flesh Eating Tiger by Amy Tofte starting tomorrow night until the 4th June, Keep by Francesca Pazniokas running from 7th – 17th June, Ali Viterbi’s Deadheads from the 21st June – 1st July, and Francis Grin’s Flash from the 5th – 15th July.
For more information on the productions and tickets, click here.
The Owl and Cat Theatre
34 Swan Street
**I was in no way sponsored to write this post. This is just another way for me to support independent productions and works of art.