Playmates 2018 Judges Announcement & Interviews (part 2)

playamtes logo betaCR


7:30PM Friday 9th November 2018
Tickets $22 Adult, $17 Concession and $10 Children under 14
Tickets available at the door (cash only) or prepurchase your tickets here.

We are please to announce our judges for Playmates Illawarra XIII! We will be welcoming back Michelle Rakos from The Improverts, Tom Peach from duGarde, Nick Bolton from Ten Alphas and Black Box Theatre Life-Member Grahame Best.

We interviewed three of our judges, as well as cast members, as well as Playmates founder and Executive Producer Luke Berman (Black Box Theatre).


NICK BOLTON | Managing Director, Ten Alphas

Nick is Managing Director of content creation agency TEN ALPHAS making content for Australia’s top corporate companies, including the social content for Disney’s Back of the Net feature film produced in Wollongong earlier this year. He also acted in that film, and you may have seen him as Winston in 1984 at the Roo earlier this year.

Nick obtained his Masters in Screen Arts and Business from AFTRS in 2015 and now teaches at the school.

His latest short film The Road to Vagator, made with his wife Jess Milne, on their honeymoon, in 5 countries, is tearing up the festival circuit globally, and can be seen at Viva La Gong this Saturday and Wollongong Film Festival on Friday 16th November.

Nick would like to publicly state that Roo Theatre captain Dylan Horvat has already tried to bribe him, by promising to attend the Viva la Gong festival and support Nick, in return for high scores.

TOM PEACH | Director, duGarde

Tom Peach is one of the area’s leading playwrights, and an experienced director and actor.  His plays have been performed in Australia and the UK.  His most recent work was directing a run of a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, during which the Northern Illawarra also got to see his Bottom. Tom has his own theatre company, duGarde, named for his ancestor Lawrence duGarde Peach, a war hero, playwright, actor, and founder of one of England’s leading independent theatres. duGarde is presenting two plays at S&S Sydney, and is also producing its first full length play in May next year in Sydney.

What do you find funny:

My favourite comedians are Stu Goldsmith (check out the Comedians Comedian Podcast – best podcast about comedy ever), Hannah Gadsby, from an earlier era John Belushi, and of course the classics like Monty Python / Blackadder.  I like slapstick, I love puns and wordplay, and I think improv is amazing as the jokes can just keep topping each other until you end up somewhere you never expected.

What do the actors need to do to impress you?

Not over-rehearse bits.  Sometimes in improv you can see the performers thinking – ‘now we can shoe-horn our piece on car parks / Trump / tinder into this sketch on cheese.’ Don’t do it, keep it improv. Oh and no Trump jokes, I’m over it, Trump jokes will score zero, you have been warned.

Are you open to bribes?

That depends on the size of the bribe.  Everyone has a price…. I like port.  I’m English, I’m a stereotype, I really, really, like port.  Tell you what, the team that gets me the finest port will get a head start. As Homer said.  Hmmmmmm, Port.

MICHELLE RAKOS | Founder, The Improverts

Michelle has been involved in theatre since she was a zygote, which is long time. She comes from Canada, where the term ‘improv’ can mean anything from ‘improvised theatre’ to ‘wolf pelt.’ She has been involved in many improv theatre productions and has also earned a fair few wolf pelts of her own. She is known best for inventing the 12-step program and for walking only 12 steps at a time.

What do the actors need to do to impress you?

To impress me, I would like to see actors use the term ‘Schrodinger’s cat’ used correctly in a contextually relevant setting.

Are you open to bribes?

Yes, bribes are acceptable and I will only take Bitcoin.


Which team poses the biggest threat to your group?

In improv, University. In a bar fight, Roo. In pure sex appeal no one can touch us.
– Adam Armitt, Wollongong Comedy

No team, UNIVERSITY for the WIN again!!
– Charmaine Sharp, University.

Well. The team of judges, let’s be honest. I’m recently married so with my new Italian surname, perhaps I’ll add some diversity to our crew and the judges will value this. Uni aren’t a threat, but based on their back to back wins, it’s clear they’re very good at bribes.
– Jen Guerrieri-Cortesi, Wollongong Comedy

Describe your life using film titles.

Sleeping beauty, hot fuzz, die hard.
– Charmaine Sharp, University.

Hot Fuzz
– Jen Guerrieri-Cortesi, Wollongong Comedy

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Honey I blew up the baby.
– Adam Armitt, Wollongong Comedy

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I shall never grow up, I am doomed to remain a half adult forever.
– Charmaine Sharp, University.

I wish I was going to grow any taller than I am now. But a short improv comedian is all I’ll ever be.
– Dylan Horvat, Roo Theatre

A playmates winner. Also rich. And thin.
– Jen Guerrieri-Cortesi, Wollongong Comedy

Geddy Lee; lead singer/bass player of the popular Canadian prog-rock band, Rush
– Alex Groombridge, Roo Theatre

A real boy.
– Charlotte Cuff, University

A more attractive version of Berman.
– Byron Faulkner, SPAT

Luke Berman | Executive Producer, Playmates

Luke Berman is Artistic Director of Black Box Theatre, and is one of the Illawarra’s leading live theatre producers, particularly in the short-form style. Luke is the founder of Playmates Illawarra and is currently the Executive Producer of Short+Sweet Illawarra which launched October this year.

What was the inspiration in creating Playmates?

Not long after coming out of Uni, I got involved in local theatre through Wollongong Workshop Theatre. Something I picked up almost immediately was the amount of talent we had in this region and was amazed by how many theatre companies were operating out of the Illawarra.

There seemed to be a fair amount of competitiveness between the groups, though most actors roamed around the different companies so there was already a lot of cooperation. I realised that we needed a way of encouraging cooperation and mutual support, there was no reason I could see that everyone couldn’t get along. Especially since most groups had very different niches when it comes to their styles of theatre.

I was watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? and I thought ‘eureka’ – improvisation is the perfect way for the groups to have fun together without a long drawn-out rehearsal schedule. It needed to be simple, it needed to be fun.

How many companies has Playmates represented?

I think about a dozen. It’s a busy theatre calendar and sometimes it’s hard for companies to return year-after-year and that’s perfectly fine. Other than the five groups we’re seeing this year, we’ve also had teams from The Drama Studio, Arcadians, Altogether Drama, Moonburn Productions, Eton Gorge Theatre Company and we’ve had close partnerships behind the scenes with Phoenix Theatre, Rising Arts Productions and many many more.

What do you love seeing the most.

Everything about Playmates I love, most of which isn’t what happens on the stage. I love the loving atmosphere in the room, and looking at the faces of all the actors who are watching whatever scene is being played. Look at any of our photos from past shows and you can see how happy everyone is to be a part of the show.

But mostly, I LOVE it when actors from other teams jump into the scene to help out their fellow team members get through their scene. This personifies what Playmates represents.

Which team should we be looking out for this year?

It’s impossible to know, improv is impossible to predict. You can never rule out University lately and Wollongong Comedy are a real chance – they were Grand Finalists last year and there is a Playmates trend of Grand Finalists taking it out the following year. They’re also hungry for their first trophy!

All the teams are strong but I love how balanced the team from Workshop Theatre looks to me. While they don’t have a lot of improv experience, I’d say they’re the dark horse for 2019.

It seems however that some teams have worked out who a couple of our judges are and are already busy offering bribes, and as our past audience know, bribes are perfectly legal in Playmates.

Why should people come to watch Playmates?

Because you’ll walk out the door from the show happy.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s