City Diggers Club Wollongong
ONE NIGHT ONLY
Friday 11th December
Cast: Glenn Wanstall (captain), Bec Ellis, David Rienits and Luke Reeves
Returning to the Playmates arena after a three year vacation is the electric team from the Illawarra’s longest running community theatre company and inaugural Playmates Champions Wollongong Workshop Theatre. Fielding an impressive team of actors, Workshop are determined to win their third Playmates title. Workshop Theatre, located in Gipps Road in Gwynneville, offers the Illawarra a broad range of productions including drama, comedy, cabaret, short plays, mainstream productions, Australian productions as well as period plays, Shakespeare’s and experimental theatre.
Team captain Glenn Wanstall was first discovered while at Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts where he spent many happy years upstaging much more talented professional actors with his trademarked ‘HAMislavki Method’ of acting. Suffice to say these schoolmates now have professional theatrical careers whilst Glenn perseveres by teaching his method around the local government ward to swarms of aspiring, naive and wealthy fleas.
In May this year Mr. Wanstall performed a 12-minute comic monologue entitled ‘That Time Harold Borgenstein Went Speed Dating And Was Taken Over By All Of The Greek Gods’ for a monologue showcase in Newtown. Glenn always knew he was godlike.
Recently he played a homeless man who consents to having his blood sucked by a vampire for cash, for the independent short-film and Tropfest entry, ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’. Glenn also starred in ‘The Trailer’ another aptly named 2015 Tropfest entry about a man stuck in a film trailer.
And in January he directed a 10 minute play for Short+Sweet Sydney called ‘Position Vacant’ about a man who applies for a job at a Homewares store which turns out to be a pagan cult. His role as director was to demand his actors (including fellow Playmates teammate Luke Reeves) to do entirely humiliating, soul-destroying things on stage for 10 minutes. Art must come first!
When asked what Glenn is looking forward to with Playmates, he is quick to disburse his clean, good-boy image and shouts out a warning to his Playmates rivals.
“I’m looking forward to slaughtering the opposition with the combined improvisational skills of myself and my team-mates. I look forward to arising glorious from the ashen husk of the staged battleground littered with the bloodied corpses of fallen actors. I look forward to marching arm in arm in triumphal procession with my Workshop Theatre comrades to claim the coveted Playmates Cup and wear the laurel wreath of victory.”
After a rather boyish giggle, Glenn chooses to reiterate the strengths of the talent pool Playmates has on offer, especially after acting alongside all of them at the recent Playmates actor’s training Day.
“I think the trophy could be anyone’s prize this year. From what I’ve seen there’s some truly stiff competition. Seriously, mark my words, this year will be a photo finish.”
Drama teacher Bec Ellis is eagerly awaiting Friday night where she will be making her Playmates debut with the Wollongong Workshop Theatre. The talented actor, writer, director and theatre technician has taken a strong liking the Playmates philosophy of bringing together the different Illawarra theatre groups.
“The community theatre scene of Wollongong is relatively tight knit. You pretty much know everyone. So it seems like a great time to be up onstage with a bunch of friends and doing what theatre kids love to do- making performances.”
Recently Bec, along with Workshop Theatre team-mate David Rienits, took on the challenge of writing for Black Box Theatre’s 24 Hour Theatre Project where she was given just one night to write an original short play and saw it rehearsed and performed the next day. Both Bec and David’s contributions were rewarded with fantastic feedback from the audience and showed that they both are no strangers to pressure.
However the pressure of performing improvised comedy on the high-energy Playmates stage seems to be getting Bec’s heart rate up somewhat.
“I’ll be honest, I’m absolutely terrified. I mean, I think I am hilarious, but I’m not sure if lame dad jokes and awful poorly timed puns is everyone’s cup of tea. I should be ok, as long as we don’t get games like ‘Song’ or ‘Opera’. I am so musically challenged, I can’t even keep a beat or clap in time!”
Three-time Playmates veteran and two-time winner David Rienits has found himself a new home with the Workshop Theatre Playmates team after playing a leading role in Roo Theatre’s Playmates Golden era.
David has been in many a show around the Illawarra, mostly spending his time at the Roo Theatre in Shellharbour. ‘Spamalot’ at the Arcadians and ‘Death by Fatal Murder’ at the Workshop Theatre were David’s most recent productions, and he is currently rehearsing for IYAP’s ‘Bring it On’.
Along with an impressive acting resume, David also writes for stage and other productions. He participated in Black Box’s 24 Hour Theatre Project, has had short plays performed at the IPAC and he currently teaches writing for stage as well as drama classes for both the able-bodied and the disabled.
David was very impressed with the strength of the other Playmates teams this year, particularly back-to-back champions The Drama Studio who, like his previous Roo Theatre team, look to be only the second team in Playmates history to win three consecutive years (Arcadians 2007-2009).
“We must watch the younglings. Drama Studio are on the cusp of a hat-trick and have proven to be quite strong in the past. But I have known that hubris. I nearly had the hat-trick once. But yeah, I’m really excited, Playmates is always a fantastic time. I’m looking forward to working with new people and having a grand time performing – especially with the new games added in my time of hiatus.”
Luke Reeves returns for his third Playmates, and was in Workshop Theatre’s team that won their last Playmates in 2010. He has been a proud member of the Wollongong theatre scene from 2009 – 2012 (and back again in 2015 for some playmate fun!). He is currently a Sydney theatre scene dabbler and and is a professional Theatre in Education performer. He has performed in over a dozen productions with Wollongong Workshop Theatre and cannot wait to join his captain and house-mate Glenn on stage in Playmate’s ten year anniversary.
“It’s such an adrenaline hit of being unprepared on stage! It’s always nerve wracking moments before you run onto the Playmates stage, but when you hear the crowd cheer and see all the smiles from the audience you realise just how special this is.”
When asked what games he hopes Workshop Theatre will get, his answer is set to strike fear in team-mate Bec Ellis’ heart.
I would love to get ‘Song’… because I’m a masochist.