The Kincumber-based Salt House Theatre Company will bring Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to the stage at the Art House Wyong on Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5.
The new local theatre group has been rehearsing at Kincumber for months and has even invited the novelist’s fifth generation great niece, Ms Caroline Jane Knight, to be a guest speaker at the play.
Salt House Theatre Company began operating from The Kincumber Uniting Church hall in February 2016.
The company was founded by Artistic Director, Dan Widdowson, who has a passion for the performing arts and a gift for encouragement and teaching.
Teamed with his wife Leia Widdowson’s business sense, Salt House became a reality.
The name Salt House came from a convict ruin on Norfolk Island, nostalgic to Dan, Leia and their two children.
The family returned to the mainland in 2014 after spending three years in ministry on Norfolk Island.
It is now their ‘other’ home and they have much love for its people and beauty.
Daniel is an Australian of the Year finalist for contributions to the Arts, an Australian Playwright finalist, and recipient of the Collins Booksellers’ Arts Award.
His writing credits include two feature length documentaries, scripts for Home & Away, children’s dramas, and he is a member of the Australian Writer’s Guild, through which he serves as a Screen Time judge.
He has previously worked on Network Seven’s Saturday Disney and Ground Force, and spent five years producing radio’s Hope Breakfast on Hope 103.2.
From 2010-2013, he served as Station Manager and Producer at TVNI.
Daniel holds a Master of Theology majoring in Hermeneutics, a Bachelor of Theology majoring in Biblical Studies, is a graduate of the Power of Acting Course at The Actors Centre, and has completed several short courses through NIDA.
He is currently undertaking Doctoral studies in Theology and the Arts.
Having worked for Director, Baz Luhrmann, Leia Widdowson undertook the accounting on pre-production and post-production projects such as La Boheme and the Channel campaign.
She is currently an accounting consultant for Resolve Consulting, where she assists not-for-profit organisations in finance and governance.
Leia holds a Bachelor of Business in Financial Planning obtained through RMIT, and is currently undertaking post graduate studies in Leadership and Education.
The heroine in Pride and Prejudice, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, is played by Aimee Honor-Eltham, who graduated from Terrigal High School in 2015, and is taking on this demanding role in her stage debut.
The reluctant hero in the famous novel, Fitzwilliam Darcy, will have his shoes filled by Matthew Wilson who, although still at high school, has previously taken lead roles in musical theatre.
Jayden Gobbe Bezzina, who will play Charles Bingley, is about to finish his performance studies and was a finalist in Short and Sweet.
Both Mrs. Bennet (Dianne Ormsby) and Caroline (Emma Maher) are drama teachers.
Five of the cast members are still in high school, and Lady Catherine (Catherine Young) is returning to the stage for the first time since having a son.
Costume Designer, Lauren Harrison, graduated from Charles Sturt University with a degree in design, she works with Options Theatre Company on the Central Coast, and also teaches dance.
Choreographer, Rebecca Savage, is classically trained with main styles being contemporary and ballroom.
She recently finished a production of ‘Hairspray’ in Sydney.
Guest speaker, Caroline Jane Knight, is the fifth great niece of Jane Austen, and is the last of the Austen descendants to grow up in Chawton, England, where Jane herself lived and wrote her most famous works.
Everyday Caroline walked the corridors Jane walked, sat at the same dining table and even ate from the same china.
Jane was ever present in Caroline’s life and the four walls of the great family home, Chawton House.
Caroline and her family had to leave the ancestral home in Chawton when Caroline was 18-years-old.
Her great Grandfather, Edward Knight III, the 15th Squire of Chawton, passed away and the family were unable to keep the house as a home, ending 400 years of history.
Since then, Caroline has found her own independence and success and has forged a reputable career in business and philanthropy in the UK and Australia.
Email, Oct 26, 2016 Daniel Widdowson, Salt House Theatre Company