TREADING THE BOARDS: Criterion Theatre president Desan Padayachee has a passion for the theatrical arts.
TREADING THE BOARDS: Criterion Theatre president Desan Padayachee has a passion for the theatrical arts. Caitlan Charles

There's more than the spotlight in Valley theatre groups

HAVING studied acting at university with the usual dreams of one day becoming a famous and rich Hollywood movie star, I find myself feeling privileged and honoured to call the Clarence Valley home.

Apart from being totally in love with our mighty Clarence River, I am still very much in love with acting and all theatre arts. It is my passion.

This passion is shared by many other people in the Clarence Valley who like me, find themselves drawn to the bright lights of "two" theatre companies in Grafton. That's right, two theatre companies.

Grafton is indeed incredibly fortunate to have The Pelican Playhouse in South Grafton and the Criterion Theatre Grafton producing several shows each year to the delight of theatre lovers in the Valley.

Being personally involved in productions at both theatre companies, I believe that the key factors to mounting successful productions are the dedicated committee members at both theatres who volunteer their time and expertise, local performers of all ages who also give up their time to act, sing and dance and of course the audiences that support live theatre in the Valley.

The two theatres have developed a strong and positive relationship over the years cross-promoting shows, sharing equipment and costumes, consulting with each other to ensure productions do not clash and above all...genuinely supporting each other.

Being involved in theatre is not limited to performing on stage, so don't let stage fright stop you from becoming involved. There are many important roles behind the scenes too, required to produce a successful show, such as backstage crews, wardrobe and costumes, set designers, set construction, front of house, marketing and promoting, lighting, sound, writers and directors.

I recently listened to a speech made by an actor at an end-of-season party which made me realise how much more important being involved in theatre is to me, other than the actual performance. The actor said: "The theatre gave me confidence, gave me friends, it welcomed me and my family, it made me choose to stay in Grafton and make my life here".

While my romantic notion to become a famous and rich Hollywood movie star was just that, a romantic notion. My love of theatre... my family, and my home is the Clarence Valley, is largely due to the Criterion Theatre and the Pelican Playhouse (and my wife Misty).

- Desan Padayachee