‘The Outsiders’ was written by teenager S. E. (Susan Eloise) Hinton in 1965, the initials gave the female writer ‘credibility’ in a male dominated world. It is based on life at her Oklahoma school and the two gangs that ruled the place.
The play became very successful and many more followed. This stage adaptation for youths is by Christopher Sergel and was being presented by Fremantle Performing Artists at the Koorliny Arts Centre in Kwinana for a three-show season until Saturday 21st March – until the dreaded virus arrived and all theatres closed. They put on the show in a large 200-seat theatre when the virus limit was 100 by cleverly ‘booking’ empty seats in the auditorium thus ensuring that groups of patrons are well spaced – which was very pleasant as many ticket clerks seem to fill rows, often having the front three rows packed and nothing behind.
The scene: Will Rogers High School in Oklahoma in 1967
The set: The stage was surrounded by black drapes with some effective props. A trellis hedge went along the back of the stage, ending in a limestone pond with an illuminated fountain.
To the right – The home had a settee, lampstand and an armchair. The house front door was simply a flyscreen, but this was all that was required to create the whole house. Other minor scenes included a cinema, a hospital ward with bed and an abandoned church.
The lighting and quality sound effects were supplied by Koorliny’s in house team.
Stage managed by Caitlin Langworthy.
In the high school are two groups, the Greasers who are from a low socio background and the Socs, the kids of the rich.
Denim clad Greaser Johnny (Kassey Wilson) is late for school and climbs over the fence, only to find that a bunch of Socs are waiting for him. He is badly beaten especially by Bob (Harry Bell) and Randy (James Garces) before two of the Curtis brothers, greasers Sodapop (Gryphen Billington) and Darry (Lincoln Hitchcock) come to his rescue.
Later that night Sherri (Sarah Ganon) and Marcia (Alyssa Yates) two of the Socs girls are in the cinema when Johnny and his best friend, the quiet and shy Ponyboy Curtis (Archer Larwood) arrive; they sit near the girls. Despite being from different gangs, they are happily getting to know each other when ‘big greaser’ Dallas (Aswin Oomman) arrives before trying the fast and rough approach with Sherri; despite buying a round of sodas for the group, Sherri soon lets Dallas know what she thinks of his uncouth type.
Despite all of Miss Symes (Caitlin Langworthy) teacher training, she struggles to cope with the wild pupils. After a major stoush, where Paul (Jonathon Davies) and Gregory (Thomas Davers) join in with the Soc’s and Sandy (Charlotte Cantley) and Two-Bit (Oliver Temby) give muscle and guidance to the Greasers, one of their gang ends up in hospital, where the emergency nurse (Amy Chatley) and doctor (Jason Jones) struggle to save the life.
The young ensemble (Abbey Morris, Isabelle Lyra, Monique Lyra, Dieu Nguyen and Niamh Rhian) moved well and were not, as often seen, mere statues standing around; they moved well and were an integral part of the action.
Director / Producer Brenton Foale has presented a powerful show with such a young cast and on a minimal budget. He was assisted in the directing by Jonathon Davies. The whole cast were extremely well rehearsed, not a fluff or hesitation in the whole script. A great deal of movement was required but the cast integrated well.
I think this may be the cast’s first time in such a large theatre, so occasionally some words were spoken in a normal voice to the actor next to them, instead of being aimed at the fifth row of the audience. Once or twice some actors had their back to the audience whilst speaking to another character, so the diction was lost into the drapes. Very minor points which this very capable cast will soon learn.
With such a strong cast it seems unfair to pick out any specials, but these impressive players conquered the action, voice, accent and body language perfectly – Archer, Kassandra, Harry, Sarah and Alyssa, wonderful.
For the final curtain call, each actor took their bow individually and with the next actor not even entering the stage until the previous was back in line, the curtain call seemed to take for ever. If the next performer can enter the stage as the previous actor is starting to bow, this would half the applause time.
Such a shame that after the cast had obviously toiled so hard, that they will not be able to end their season until later (?). VERY well done. I look forward to your next presentation.