Popping up for the second time, Toast is an award-winning work by Liz Newell making its return to the stage under the continued partnership between Black Swan State Theatre Company and The Blue Room Theatre.
“The childhood home is up for sale. Three sisters are left adrift and grappling with the sudden loss of their mother, and each other.”
First opening in 2017, the show swept up Best Production and Best Performance in The Blue Room Theatre awards with its themes of grief, adoption, sobriety, love and family connecting with audiences.
Now, after five years, the cast and creatives have reunited to bring Toast back. Resuming their roles as Sydney and Gwen, Anna Lindstedt and Sam Nerida both say new life has been injected into the show while still staying true to the original work.
“It’s kind of a mix of some things feeling really nostalgic and then some things feel like mounting a new production,” says Anna.
Anna Lindstedt in Toast. Photography by Daniel J Grant.
Sam says the remount has provided an opportunity to delve deeper into the characters, “I think everyone has a different nuance or different emphasis on bits of their story. It’s really great to watch the difference. You just don’t get this opportunity very often.”
For Anna, this emphasis has been placed on Sydney’s, her character, experience as an adoptee. “I made sure, especially this time around, I did more reading about the different kinds of adoption and the psychology of being brought up in a family that is not your biological family. Particularly when you’re a white person in a white family and people might not get that you’re adopted when they first meet you.”
Sydney is the youngest of the play’s three sisters and along with grappling with her identity as an adoptee, she’s also in the process of coming out. Anna says she can relate to this part of her character, more now than she could back in 2017.
“When we first did the production, looking back, I was probably in the midst of it [coming out] but now I really know what that was like for me and I can bring that with me.”
TOAST by Liz Newell – The Story
Stepping back into the role of Gwen, a 22-year-old real estate agent, Sam says that writer Liz Newell has fleshed out the character. “I have such a privilege as an actor to get more to sink my teeth into the backstory this time.”
Sam further explains that Gwen defies the model of a stereotypical, pushy, real estate agent. “She’s just a bit slightly unaware, well-meaning, perky. She’s only really in it to pay off credit cards as opposed to a career. I think there’s actually a bit of a fun friction there in terms of stereotypes.”
Alison van Reeken, Sam Nerida, Amy Mathews. Photography by Daniel J Grant.
Toast is the second show under the new partnership between Black Swan State Theatre Company and The Blue Room Theatre, following 2021’s Playthings. Sam and Anna both say the partnership provides new opportunities for emerging and independent artists.
“There’s no mid-career training grounds and I think this pathway is exactly what we need to be filling that gap. It’s such a great vote of confidence for the independent artists who are making work at The Blue Room and the role The Blue Room Theatre plays in our sector as well.” says Sam.
Echoing Sam’s sentiments, Anna adds that this opportunity may keep artists in Western Australia. “Once you do work in the independent sector, it’s hard to figure out how you get to the next thing. I think this partnership is really good for artists to stay in Perth, we’ll hopefully be able to keep more amazing artists here making work.”
Toast Presented with The Blue Room Theatre and Black Swan State Theatre Company by Liz Newell runs from May 5 to May 15.