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Major Milestone Met by West Australian Theatre Company

This Sunday will see a unique milestone met in the West Australian theatre landscape with THEATRE 180 celebrating the 100th performance of their production A Fortunate Life.  

The show derived from A.B Facey’s autobiography, of the same name, was the first production of its kind to utilise the theatre company’s original CinemaStage concept. CinemaStage sees productions performed in a cinema or with a cinema screen, bringing vibrant visuals to life that interact with performers and immerse them within various locations.

A Fortunate Life opened in 2020 at Ace Cinemas Midland and since then has toured throughout the state, most recently performing in Narrogin. This weekend the show will return to Midland, a fitting location being the place where A.B Facey spent the final years of his life.  

Magazine 6000, spoke with THEATRE 180’s Artistic Director and Director of A Fortunate Life, Stuart Halusz to hear more about the show’s immense success and what this momentous occasion means for the company. 

Stuart Haulsz, Artistic Director of THEATRE 180 and Director of A Fortunate Life. Photography by Stewart Thorpe.

Congratulations on reaching 100 performances of A Fortunate Life, how does it feel to meet this mammoth milestone?

Thank you! We feel blessed to be in a position to be able to perform and share this story for the thousands of people around WA who have seen it already. Given that most theatre productions only play for a short season totalling 15-20 performances, it certainly feels like an achievement to be reaching 100 and we’re very grateful that audiences continue to engage with our brand of storytelling.

At the start of your journey with this production, did you ever imagine or foresee that the show would have an indefinite life?

Of course we always hoped it would be a success but I don’t think imagined it would get this far, especially given that Covid hit close to the beginning of our first tour and we were forced to shut down along with all the other theatre companies around the world. However it was built with the agility for touring and so we were one of the first theatre companies to be back performing for audiences in Aug 2020, as soon as restrictions allowed.

Rebecca Davis in A Fortunate Life. Photography by Stewart Thorpe.

How has the show evolved from its inception as a workshop back in 2019 to now?

Our initial vision was for a large cast production with two intervals and a dinner break – a huge, Festival-style undertaking of epic proportions. Our Creative Development in Feb 2019 featured a cast of 10 actors and a musician, with two writers and input from Movement Director Chrissie Parrot, Fight Director Andy Fraser and local WA Historian Richard Offen. Following the opportunity to work with regional cinema owner Ron Siemiginowski and develop the CinemaStage concept we’ve evolved to tell Bert and Evelyn’s epic story with just three actors, and over the course of our many seasons there have been adjustments and improvements in response to developing situations such as extra lighting and tech equipment. We’ve also been working with the Facey family from the very beginning and are able to integrate new lines of dialogue and family photos as more stories and images have come to light. We’re making discoveries all the time and being a live show it lives and breathes with us.

Rebecca Davis and Michael Abercromby in A Fortunate Life. Photography by Stewart Thorpe.

A Fortunate Life was the first production from THEATRE 180 using the original cinemastage concept, in your perspective as Artistic Director how has this shaped the company and the way it presents work?

The CinemaStage concept is a new genre and has had a huge impact on our company. We have evolved to become much more responsive to opportunities to present the work as it all packs away into a trailer and is very portable, and we now have a format and structure to shape and create future CinemaStage shows which fit within the same parameters, such as SYDNEY II: Lost and Found, which is about to go on its second tour of regional WA. One of the biggest impacts for us however has been the potential to connect with a new audience, people who don’t necessarily go to the theatre but who are regular cinemagoers. We receive many comments about this and how much they enjoy the show and can’t wait for the next one.

What’s next for A Fortunate Life, another 100 performances?

Yes absolutely, and beyond! We hope to keep touring this show for as long as people want to see it, and to take it interstate and overseas. We are in talks with a QLD producer for a tour of SE QLD and Brisbane and with cinema operators in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as exploring options in London. Watch this space…

Click below to see show times and dates for A Fortunate Life, including the 100th performance.