John Alker-Jones and Dr Bruce Pennay – scene stealers in At The Hip

There’ve been some scene stealers in At The Hip including former planner with the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation, John Alker-Jones, and historian and academic, Dr Bruce Pennay who some have compared with the two older gentleman who provide commentary on The Muppets.

Played by Paddy Brown and Matt Davidson respectively, the memories of the two men provide some of the framework for the show that opens with Gough Whitlam’s grand vision for Albury to be a national growth centre to rival Canberra.

In this excerpt from the show, John and Dr Bruce talk about what brought them to Albury-Wodonga: John 40 years ago and Dr Bruce 30 years ago. You’ll find more interviews with the cast and some other memories of Albury-Wodonga here.

Don’t miss At The Hip! Tickets are still available for the remaining performances 17 & 18 November at 8pm and 3pm and 8pm on Saturday 19 November. Buy tickets.

The dream bears fruit

Through the stories of its older and younger residents, At the Hip documents the journey the towns of Albury and Wodonga have taken toward Gough Whitlam’s grand vision to be the cross-border regional city that now exists and the tremendous change inherent in this.
While the original plan laid out in the 1970s did not come to fruition, it can still be viewed as a success with Albury-Wodonga continuing to grow despite the wind down of the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation. The transformation and growth can be seen in the change in geography and townscapes: the establishment of two university campuses – Charles Sturt originally in the centre of Albury and now located in Thurgoona, and La Trobe in West Wodonga. The rail line has been moved from the centre of Wodonga and the area transformed as a hub for dining and entertainment at Junction Place. Growth in the transport, tourism, arts, health and retail sectors has also attracted people to experience life in a regional area with many facilities rivalling those in the larger cities. Older members interviewed talk of how they accepted their fate; the newer generations of their aspirations and higher expectations.

Resident from 1943 and chair of the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation from 1997 for 17  years, Bill Hanrahan reflects on the cosmopolitan nature of Albury-Wodonga and says although he’s pleased the 300,000 population target wasn’t reached, the lifestyle in the twin cities has everything needed, and in many ways Whitlam’s dream has borne fruit.

At The Hip will play at HotHouse Theatre from November 3 – 19. Find more information and purchase tickets here.

 

 

Q & A with Paddy Brown

Paddy Brown talks about a very famous person he interviewed for At the Hip.

The process for developing At the Hip has been quite different to other shows you may have been involved in. What has been your favourite thing about the process of being ‘reporter/actor’?

I’ve really loved the chance to talk to people about their lives here in Albury Wodonga. I was really thrilled to interview Richard Roxburgh who grew up here.

What has been the most challenging ?

It’s challenging to be playing someone who’s really well known – like Gough Whitlam – getting the gestures right.

How long have you been in Albury-Wodonga?

I was born here.

What’s the BEST thing about living in Albury-Wodonga?

Great opportunities to be involved in companies like HotHouse Theatre and especially the Studio Ensemble. Last year we travelled to Sydney for Between the Clouds.

The interviewees were asked what is their BIG DREAM. What is your BIG DREAM?

My big dream is to pursue a career in theatre or films.

Finally, what is your favourite song?

That’s a really hard one. Can you leave that with me?

Book tickets here.

Q & A with Teeny Miles

With the show about to open, we spent five minutes with Christine (Teeny) Miles.

The process for developing At the Hip has been quite different to other shows you may have been involved in. What has been your favourite thing about the process of being ‘reporter/actor’?

Finding the ‘gold’ in the interviews. Really listening to people’s unique stories of life experiences.

What has been the most challenging ?

Playing someone older than myself.

How long have you been in Albury-Wodonga?

Twenty-four years. I was born here.

What’s the BEST thing about living in Albury-Wodonga?

Family and friends

The interviewees were asked what is their BIG DREAM. What is your BIG DREAM?

To travel the world and experience all that it has to offer … and oh, to make a living from acting.

Finally, what is your favourite song?

I don’t have one.

You can see Teeny and the other Ensemble members in At the Hip  3 – 19 November. Book tickets here.

Q & A with Georgie Currie

A quick catch up with Studio Ensemble member, Georgie Currie, during a brief break from rehearsals.

The process for developing At the Hip has been quite different to other shows you may have been involved in. What has been your favourite thing about the process of being ‘reporter/actor’?

This entire process has been super interesting and unlike anything I have ever done before. I think my favourite aspect of this whole development has been the interviews themselves. It was a genuine pleasure to just sit down and truly listen to some really interesting people just talk. I also found noting human mannerisms and characteristics quite fascinating.

What has been the most challenging ?

The most challenging has been treading the fine line between true reflection of the person’s voice and nature, and mockery! It’s been a real challenge to ensure that we don’t create a caricature of the person we interviewed. Hopefully we haven’t.

How long have you been in Albury-Wodonga?

I have lived in Albury-Wodonga for six years and three months! We moved to Albury because my family was tired of the speed of Sydney. They’d always talked about moving somewhere more regional, and Albury fitted the mould quite nicely as it’s not too small and it’s only an hour away from my grandparents.

What’s the BEST thing about living in Albury-Wodonga?

The best thing about living in Albury-Wodonga has been growing up here. I felt what it was to grow up in a city as big as Sydney, and it never held the same sense of community that you find here. Best of all, the young people are still given opportunities to nurture their passions and dreams just as they would in metropolitan areas. Now, I feel ready to move away, but I’ll always be grateful to have grown up in Albury-Wodonga.

The interviewees were asked what is their BIG DREAM. What is your BIG DREAM?

My big dream is to live a fulfilling life in the performing arts. Wherever that may lead me!

I don’t have a clear plan right now, I just know that I’m happiest when I’m performing or creating something. If the universe decides that I’m not able to make a career in the performing arts, then I’d like to do something with humanitarian work. Either way, I intend to follow my passion, it’s important, I think it’s sort of what we’re here to do.

Finally, what is your favourite song?

My favourite song is by Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge over Troubled Water. I first heard this song when I was singing with a combined schools choir during my time in Sydney. We were fortunate enough to perform this at the Sydney Opera House, and still every time I hear it I am reminded of how it felt to sing that beautiful song with my childhood friends. I even remember spotting my excited Grandma waving from the front row. She was pretty stoked to be there.

You can see Georgie and the other Ensemble members in At the Hip  3 – 19 November. Book tickets here.

 

Q & A with Matt Davidson

We talk to Matt Davidson about his experience with making At the Hip and being a born and bred Albury-Wodonga resident, but he’s keeping mum about the song in the show finale.

What has been your favourite thing about the process of being ‘reporter/actor’?

I have enjoyed going through the process with everyone and gaining close bonds with everyone in the ensemble having had them do the same thing and learning alongside them is something I will never forget.

What has been the most challenging?

The hardest part of this whole thing was initially learning how to replicate each sound and inflection that we heard on the track.

How long have you been in Albury-Wodonga?

I have lived here since I was born and couldn’t have thought of a better place to grow up, it had everything I could have wished for.

What’s the BEST thing about living in Albury-Wodonga?

I would have to say the people of Albury-Wodonga is the best part, no matter where I go I always see someone I know and even if I don’t I will always be greeted by someone, it is an easy place to meet people

The interviewees were asked about their BIG DREAM. What is your BIG DREAM?

My big dream is to be successful. I hope to one day to have experienced all I can experience in the acting industry and to be able to live purely off of my acting career, because I will no longer have to ‘work’ but I will get to enjoy every day doing what I love

Finally, what is your favourite song?

This was always the hardest question to ask others because I could never decide what my favourite song was. But I am happy to say that after this long journey my favourite song is the one in our finale.

Which is?

It’s a secret.

 

A City in the Country

A city in the country without the Sydney or Melbourne hang ups is one way to describe Albury-Wodonga. It has all the convenience of a city ( but perhaps needs better public transport) without all the major issues facing our two state capitals.
With a combined population of close to 100,000, Albury-Wodonga is a regional city in its own right with boundless potential: not yet riven with commuter issues as Sydney and Melbourne are, although the occasional back up of traffic on the Lincoln Causeway is not unknown, and close to the snowfields, wineries and farmland.

For some it may epitomise the stereotype of the sleepy rural abode, but there is always plenty to do and the range of things to do on offer – whether you are a culture vulture, a sports fanatic or both – is increasing. At the Hip tells the story of life in our twin cities from many perspectives. The ninety-year olds in an aged care facility; the students who have come from overseas to study and transform their lives; young parents who see a future for themselves and their families, and those, like Jean Whitla who as an ABC radio jounalist, had first hand experience of meeting Gough Whitlam and talking to him about his BIG DREAM for this region.

Come to the show and learn more about these two cities whose futures are intertwined and truly joined ‘at the hip’.

At The Hip will play at HotHouse Theatre from November 3 – 19. Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Listen to Jean Whitla talk about her love of the ‘City in the Country’.

The Soundtracks of Their Lives

The link between song and memory is strong. A song can return us to the school hall and our Year 10 social; to the time we met our partners or to a particular workplace.

Each of the interviewees for At the Hip were asked to name their favourite song and make an eclectic and memory-sparking playlist from a range of eras and includes such gems as the Albury-Wodonga song. The song was written as part of a promotional campaign for the region.

Image: The Albury Hotel,rebranded as Paddy’s and now a property in the Beer Deluxe group. Behind the building was the Cactus Bar – home to the first Galah Bar performances. Galah Bar has been revived in 2016.

At The Hip will play at HotHouse Theatre from November 3 – 19. Find more information and purchase tickets here.

1976 Advertisement from The Border Mail.

Top 5 Historic Photos of Albury Wodonga

Our next show At The Hip explores the big dreams of Albury-Wodonga set against the backdrop of the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation and Whitlam’s Growth Experiment.

Our team have poured through the archives and found 5 images that highlight the development of Albury-Wodonga over the last 40 years.


5. This advertisement was placed in The Border Morning Mail. 

visiting-albury-wodonga-1976-advertisement

1976 advertisement in The Border Morning Mail. Image: Flickr

The Development Corporation hosted walking and bus tours throughout the twin cities to showcase the grand dream of a true cross-border growth centre.

 

4. The P.S. Cumberoona, exploring the Murray River.

cumberoona-awdc

P.S. Cumberoona on the Murray River. Image: Flickr

 

The P.S. Cumberoona was a Bicentennial project, allowing people to explore the mighty Murray River.

It launched in 1986 and after a number of years out of service, the Cumberoona relocated to Yarrawonga in 2015. Find out more here.

 

3. Paul Keating visits Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre.

Paul Keating visits Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre

Keating visits MDFRC. Image: Flickr

Celebrating 30 years this year, the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre was one of the shining examples of the thought leadership available in the region.

Find out more about MDFRC here.

 

 2. View from the Water Tower.

Wodonga's High Street

The view from Wodonga’s Water Tower on High Street, before the recent redevelopment. Image: Flickr

Wodonga’s High Street has changed greatly since the Development Corporation was founded. Recent redevelopments have opened up High St and activity has increased greatly.

 

1. Gough Whitlam attends launch of the Development Corporation.

Whitlam-arrives-growth-centre-launch

Whitlam arrives at Growth Centre launch, 1973. Image: Stone Family in Australia

Prime Minister Gough Whitlam attended the launch of the Growth Centre at the Albury Travel Lodge in October, 1973.

Here he is pictured with Cr. Les Stone JP Mayor of the Rural City of Wodonga, Hon Tom Uren MP Federal Minister for Urban & Regional Development and Sir Robert Askin MP KCMG Premier of NSW.

 


Find out more about Albury-Wodonga and the Growth Experiment in HotHouse’s next show At The Hip, premiering at the Butter Factory Theatre 3 – 19 November, 2016. Book here.