The Merrigong Theatre Company accounced their 2019 Theatre Season last week and it is a fantastic line-up of shows. Artistic Director Simon Hinton has let me in on his favorite pics and how he ended up working in the theatre.
Joy – How long have you been acting as Artistic Director for Merrigong?
Simon – Almost 14 years. (shock, horror)
Joy – What/when was your moment when you fell in love with theatre and knew that it would be a huge part of your life?
Simon – That’s difficult to answer – I was (almost) literally born and raised in the theatre – my Dad an actor, my Mum a ballerina. So, I think I probably always thought deep down inside that I would end up working in the theatre too. But I guess the first time I was sure that it was for me was probably seeing the incredible South African production Woza Albert! When it toured to Sydney when I was about 17. It was everything my young self believed in. It was inspiring and uplifting, a cry for justice, funny and brilliantly entertaining. For me, the perfect example of the power of theatre, and I knew I wanted in.
Joy – There are some great shows in the 2019 line-up, I’m sure many people in Sydney will be envious of your lineup. How do you think the locals will like what’s on offer?
Simon – The Wollongong audience is pretty savvy these days – they’ve seen all sorts of adventurous theatre over the last 10 years ago. I’m hoping they’ll love the season. One thing I know for sure, they will not hold back in telling me what they think. The thing I love best about our audience is they feel a great sense of ownership – of the venues, the company, the season. So they will always stop me in the foyer and tell me – they loved it, they hated it, they didn’t get it, it was the best thing since …
Joy – What is your favourite of the shows on in 2019, or the one you can’t wait to see the most?
Simon – Don’t make me choose! I’m really excited about having the phenomenal Welsh theatre-maker Shon Dale-Jones visit us with two shows he’ll play ‘in rep’ – The Duke and Me & Robin Hood. His work is funny, charming storytelling, that manages to be very entertaining and to look you straight in the eye and challenge you to think how we could make the world a better place. His shows seem so simple and yet have such a huge impact.
Joy – What is next for you, in terms of the next big project?
Simon – I’m currently working on something groundbreaking for our 2019 MerrigongX season (our parallel season of work that is independent, innovative and in-development). We will replace traditional ticketing with a new digital platform that will allow audiences to reserve a spot, show up at an event, and then afterwards decide how much they want to pay – a sort of mashup of crowdfunding and a ticketing system. We’ll launch it in February. It’s a big experiment for us, and I’m really excited to see how it will work.
A big thanks to Simon for taking the time out to chat, for more information about the Merrigong Theatre see: https://merrigong.com.au/