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COMPANY HISTORY

Pork Chop Productions

Pork Chop Productions, established in 1995, has an impressive record of producing original Australian works, with more than half of their productions by Pork Chop members. Their focus is on creating and telling uniquely Australian stories in a profound and popular manner.

Pork Chop Productions has moved into feature film and television production in the last few years, but its heart and soul, and its creative engine, remains the theatre.

When its inaugural, anarchic production of ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’ by Tom Stoppard, played to packed houses and rave reviews at the famous Belvoir St Theatre in 1995, the industry stood and applauded.

In its second year the company followed with a new Australian play created entirely from within the company, ‘Stow and the Dragon’ was written and performed by Sean O’Shea. This show was followed every night by the late night extravaganza ‘The Players’ conceived by Darren Gilshenan, and was another of our company home made gems.

1997 saw Pork Chop embark on a most ambitious project - a touring arts festival! With the backing of commercial theatre impresarios, Edgley International, the ‘FESTIVAL OF THE PIG’ was a remarkable, almost ridiculously challenging undertaking. Staged in both Sydney and Melbourne the festival comprised a short film installation festival, ‘Chopfest’, an exhibition of art works by performers and musicians called ‘Pigs on the Wall’, and a series of comedy debates on the nature of art and the relevance of theatre, ‘Hogwash’, and featuring an impressive new production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern”, specifically designed for the 1100 seat ‘Comedy Theatre’ in Melbourne.

1998, Pork Chop was instrumental in forming the theatre entity ‘THEATRE HYDRA’, a collective of five independent companies pooling their energies and resources into marketing a single season. Five young and very different companies utilized a united image while retaining the independence of their individual artistic visions. The many-headed beast was born. In Hydra’s first season we produced Mik Beckley’s ‘WANK’ at The Old Fitzroy Hotel, Sydney.

The year after ‘Night of the Sea Monkey’ was our second new work for Theatre Hydra and was the first play by a long time member of the company, Reg Cribb.

With our production of ‘The Wild Duck’ by Henrik Ibsen in 1999, Pork Chop achieved that rare feat for an independent theatre company in Australia, and a bold new step for us; a co-production with two of our flagship subsidised theatre companies, State Theatre S.A. and Glen St Theatre in Sydney, that allowed us to retain creative control while utilizing the infinitely deeper production and managerial resources of a mainstream theatre company. ‘The Wild Duck’ played in Adelaide and Sydney and most clearly delineated Pork Chop’s theatrical vision to that date. A difficult and beautiful work, we were proud of the fact that it challenged and amazed its audience.

‘Stow & The Dragon’ by Sean O’Shea was successfully re-staged in 2000 for the third ‘Theatre Hydra’ season at the Seymour Centre in Sydney.

2001 was the year we tackled ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare. This was a direct result of the Theatre Hydra mantra taking effect, with actors and crew from Tamarama Rock Surfers and O’Punkskys Theatre joining the Choppers to stage a “must see” production still fondly remembered by our growing and increasingly loyal audience. It starred Jeremy Sims and Sacha Horler, was directed by Jeremy, and played to packed houses at Beloved St Theatre, Sydney.

In 2003 Pork Chop staged what has become our defining production - the award winning ‘Last Cab To Darwin’. Conceived, commissioned developed and produced ‘in house’ with the support of the Sydney Opera House, Black Swan Theatre Company in Perth and the Theatre Board of the Australia Council, ‘Last Cab’ seemed to bring all the skills and idiosyncrasies developed by the company over the last ten years and distil them into one strange and compelling production that was universally acclaimed. Starring Barry Otto, Justine Saunders and Jacki Weaver the production was an outstanding success, both commercially and artistically, and showed the company as having developed into a unique and fully mature organisation. Reg won the 2002 Patrick White Award for this remarkable work.

‘Last Cab To Darwin’ toured the country in 2004, playing to many of the country towns about whom the piece was written. Backed by Playing Australia and NSW Arts On Tour, it was one of the largest and most warmly received tours that those organisations had been involved in. Pork Chop received two Drovers Awards for the tour.

‘Ruby’s Last Dollar’, starring Jackie Weaver, was produced on an identical production template to ‘Last Cab’ with the Sydney Opera House and Black Swan Theatre Companies sharing the risk with us, while Jeremy and Reg created the work within the company. This production was staged in 2005 to sell out houses and glowing reviews at the Sydney Opera House and Octagon Theatre in Perth.

A long held ambition of Pork Chop was realized in 2006 with the release of their first feature film ‘Last Train To Freo’ by Reg Cribb. Directed by Jeremy Sims the film was warmly received and acknowledges the arrival of Pork Chop into the world of film.

‘Brilliant Monkey’ by actor and long time member of Pork Chop, Al Dukes, was staged at the Old Fitzroy, Woolloomooloo in 2007 and then returned by popular demand in 2008. It is slated to tour in 2009. To top things off the show received a nomination for Best Independent Production in the Sydney Theatre Awards in 2008. A good record for Al’s first play!

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