Every Monday, the office of Mudgee Disability Support Service is filled with the sounds of laughter, music and movement from the drama group known as Mudgee Dramability.
The group grew out of Mudgee Disability Support Service’s production of Alice in Wonderland in March 2013, which starred people who receive support from the service and their friends in a quirky interpretation of the classic story.
After the production’s smash hit premiere, the performers declared that a production once a year was not enough, and Mudgee Dramability was born.
Every Monday afternoon, the group’s members gather to have fun, overcome inhibitions and improve their performing skills.
The afternoon’s activities range from playing charades to musical appreciation, and the group plans to develop a short skit based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to take to local nursing homes and the wellness centre.
Mudgee Dramability welcomes new members, and people do not need to receive support from Mudgee Disability Support Service to participate.
“We have a lot of good times together,” said Charlotte Foster.
“There’s something funny every week,” Stephen Waller agreed.
Each member of the group has individual strengths that suit different roles - Cindy Barton is not talkative, so she plays non-speaking characters, while Susie Downing’s excellent memory means she can learn two separate parts.
Mark Kurtz generally improvises his own lines during rehearsals, which are then written into the script.
Maddie McCarthy, who originally hoped to stay offstage, was drawn into the performance of Alice in Wonderland when she realised Ingrid Puxty, who leads the group and puts together its scripts, had not cast anyone as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
“She was going to leave Tweedledum and Tweedledee out of Alice in Wonderland, and I just couldn’t have that,” she said.
Ms Puxty said it was remarkable to see people who would need direction on an outing downtown stepping up on stage to take control, direct themselves and deliver hilarious performances.
“”Everyone directs themselves,” she said. “I say, ‘Do what you think’s funny’.”
John Malone, a keen dancer and natural extrovert, said his favourite part of performing was the audience; Charlotte Foster said her favourite part was the excitement; and Susie Downing said she enjoyed meeting new people.
For 2013’s end-of-year performance, Mudgee Dramability is planning a musical based on the story of Mary Poppins.
Over coming weeks, the group will decide who should play each role - they already have an eye on Mudgee Disability Support Service team leader Sue Field for the title role - and will start to write the script to suit each performer’s ability and personality.