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Creating a Haunting. Pt 2. Casting, Rehearsals, costumes and photography.

Updated: May 5

After wrapping up the direction of "Spooky Dog and the Teen-Age Gang Mysteries" at Tugun in 2023, I treated myself to a 2-month break before gearing up for auditions for "The Haunting," Tugun's first show of 2024 scheduled for May, despite my preference for a November slot (wouldve liked a longer rest period lol).

However this adjustment was necessary due to the long-overdue refurbishment of the Tugun Community Hall by the Gold Coast City Council.

For this upcoming project, I received a lot of interest from potential auditionees and prepared to cast the role of David Filde as a female portraying a male character, in case male actors were scarce, a common occurrence in the community theatre scene.

The audition process proved to be one of my most challenging as a director, but after careful consideration, I selected two performers who excelled as a dynamic duo during rehearsals.

In his role as LORD GRAY, GRAHAM SCOTT portrays a direct, cynical, and acerbic personality that embodies the Victorian era's skepticism towards the supernatural. Graham has been treading the boards with Tugun Theatre Co. for over 30 years. He’s dabbled in other productions with other theatres but still calls Tugun his home. Last year he okayed detective Jim Monroe in ‘Forget Me Knot’ before heading south to terrify the young ones in Murwillumbah’s Pantomime ‘Puss in Thongs’. If you didn’t recognise him he was a very hairy and scary Bunyip. Graham would like to acknowledge the cast & crew for the huge effort at creating this horrific masterpiece, with never-ending gratitude to myself.

“After 6 plays under the direction of Nathan, I wouldn’t be the actor I am today. Thank you for always challenging me and pushing me past my boundaries.”

LANCE HAWKINS portrays DAVID FIELDS, a book dealer with a slightly eccentric personality and a belief in the supernatural, yet he also harbors a hidden secret. Lance had his first taste of theatre as Chief Curtain Boy during his school’s production of My Fair Lady in 1981.

After that heady start it was a few years later he took Drama at the University of Newcastle on a whim and discovered the joys of performing. The first production in which Lance had an acting role was the Universities ’production of The Bedbug by Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1986. Since then, Lance has been involved in a variety of theatre forms and styles including street theatre, Theatre in Education, Shakespeare, comedy revues, dinner theatre and musicals. He has directed a number of shows for, and with, children over the years as well as teaching Drama in schools and theatre. A few highlights in for Lance have been his professional acting stint with Freewheels Theatre In Education Company where he played Ricko in A Property of The Clan by Nick Enright which toured to the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 1994; Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (possibly the funniest show – ever); and receiving a City of Newcastle Dramatic Award (CONDA) for “Excellence by a Professional Actor in a Professional Role” – 2007, for his role as Claudio in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Lance moved to the Gold Coast in 2023 and is playing in his first show since relocating and thanks Tugun Theatre Company for the chance to tread the boards once more.

We began our rehearsals in a small room at Kirra Hill Community Centre and blocked out the basics, or as I call it the bones of the show, making sure the cast understood that the blocking would change a bit once we got to the Tugun stage. However whilst in the small rehearsal space Lance and Graham powered through the script giving light and shade to the words.

In the many years I have been a director I’ve learned to always give actors enough creative freedom work with, as they are the ones on stage performing so I want their characters and performances to come across as natural possible. Of course I have certain things I want to have happen in blocking out a scene, but if I find a performer has an idea they would like to try to help them be more convincing, and it works in with the idea or image I’m trying to create on stage for the watching audience, then I’m always happy to try it and accommodate. After all I don’t want robots onstage.

This is why I love thinking actors or those who like to collaborate and work as team to bring to life an experience on stage.

On March 25th, we had the chance to take to the stage at Tugun Community Hall. Here we've begun refining our blocking with a taped-out set on stage in preparation for the upcoming set construction over the weekend.

Prior to this, on March 19th, we experimented with costumes designed by Shakira Summerville with special thanks to Javeenbah Theatre in Nerang for lending us some costumes from their wardrobe to help us capture the Victorian era look for the show.

As for the character portrayal of The Bride, we're keeping it a surprise but with additional support from Anita Nieuwland, one of my assistants, during a thrift store outing, we incorporated a few items, as seen in this photo taken by Selena Bunting of One76 Photography Studios in Burleigh.

Just as I value actors, I hold photographers in high regard. They are artists behind the camera, and I asked for atmospheric shots with minimal editing. Selena from One76 perfectly delivered this vision, especially with the added ambiance of Marco Beltrami's music from the movie "The Woman in Black" filling the shadows of the photography studio!

If you're in need of theatrical promo shots, headshots, or a shooting location for content, I highly suggest getting in touch with the studio in Burleigh. It's the largest photo studio I've come across, featuring double-height access and a 13m cyclorama wall perfect for shooting cars, boats, bikes, and more. Additionally, you can rent the space for workshops and events. Their contact details can be found here.

Stay tuned for my final blog post on creating a haunting, where I'll offer a sneak peek behind the scenes of the set, sound effects, and lighting, all while keeping some surprises for later.

“The Haunting” will run from 9th to 25th May on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30pm and Saturdays 11th and 18th at 2pm.

Tugun Theatre, which operates as a BYO venue, so remember to bring your drinks and snacks. Each table accommodates up to 10 people.

Tickets for the 9th May are only $10 before they become $15.00 per person or if you book in Group of 10 its a $130!

Or check out the Tugun Theatre website clicking here.

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