As more people make the sea change to our region to raise families, we reap the benefits of their talents and contributions to our community. One such couple – Stephanie and Tim Maddren – relocated a few years ago to be closer to family, and brought with them their production company, Got Ya Back Productions.
We catch up with Tim to find out about the recent years’ achievements and what is planned for 2019 with their tour of BANJO.
Hey Tim! It’s no secret really anymore that you and Steph are calling Port Macquarie home. How are you enjoying the lifestyle?
There’s a reason this place is such a popular holiday destination, and we’re lucky enough to live amongst it permanently. We love living here. The space, the coast, the weather – what’s not to enjoy! It’s been two years since we moved from Sydney with our son – now three years old. Steph went to MacKillop College and while her career took her away, it’s so great we can now be based here creating productions and growing our family in such an idyllic place. Work-wise, we’re still as busy as we were in Sydney, but now we have more time for each other and family.
But alongside the lifestyle, the community up here has been incredible in opening its arms to us. We feel so supported by the people in this community. We exist today only because of their ongoing support. When we moved here, we really didn’t know how we were going to go by setting up a production company this far away from Sydney and the other major centres. But two years on, we’re still here and know we made the right decision.
You still both commute to the cities for work – how is the juggle going with your young family?
This year, both Steph and I have become increasingly picky with what other work we take outside of Port. However, working outside the region will always be important for us. We both need to make sure we keep on top of what is happening within our industry and keep our own skills sharp too.
This year we were both fortunate to do some fantastic jobs. Steph worked in Sydney and Melbourne for the Bank of China, educating their staff on presentation and business etiquette.
I just got back from directing Hi-5’s newest stage show at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. When our son starts school, the logistics will get a little more complicated. But for now, the balance isn’t impossible.
Got Ya Back Productions has produced some amazing shows this year for locals – can you give us a run down?
We kicked the year off by bringing Kamahl to the Glasshouse for a one off concert. We then produced Disney’s Alice In Wonderland Jr and Aladdin Jr in both Port Macquarie and Taree, with our Got Ya Back students.
On January 10th – 12th we are producing Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr at the Glasshouse’s Ross Family Studio with our senior Port Macquarie students. Got Ya Back Productions was also involved in Art Walk, the re-opening of Sails Port Macquarie and the John Oxley 200th anniversary celebrations on the Town Green.
In August we were very proud to premiere our second original production as a company, BANJO. The show was quite a wacky idea, so we had no idea how the production would land. Can COLDPLAY, bush poetry and contemporary dance be mashed together? Well, the response we received from our audiences truly blew us away. It really did work.
You’ve developed a sensational piece with BANJO – what made this show so special?
Firstly, in creating BANJO, we made a decision that our cast had to be from the Mid North Coast region. I believe this was the key to making BANJO a unique production. We put a sign out the front of the theatre saying, “Warning! This production contains only local performers”. We were determined to make certain any who saw the piece knew that it was a local production and not another touring production from the major centres.
However, the people who were involved in the creation of the production is what made the show special. Of course, they’re all highly talented people, but the fact that they’re really nice people is what made the building process a joy.
At the start of rehearsals, Darren McIntyre, Michael O’Mullane, Mat Brooker and Steph, the poor things, had to continually decipher what was in my head and just go with it. The trust they showed in what I was trying to build was unwavering. However, when Nick Christo arrived to help direct the production, that’s when we all knew there was something special about the show we had all built.
The show received a standing ovation on its very first public performance, and the ovations continued throughout the season. So we felt as a cast that what we believed was special about the show was translating to our audiences.
You are now looking at touring through the Mid North Coast. How far and wide will you travel?
We open our tour at the Tuncurry Memorial Hall on March 22nd, then head to Grafton (Saraton Theatre), Coffs Harbour (Jetty Theatre) and head west to Tenterfield. We turn toward home and head to Kempsey (Oddfellows Hall) then South West Roxy Cinema and finish the first leg at the Manning Entertainment Centre in Taree.
After Taree, we will head to Sydney to show the piece off at the beautiful Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst.
What are you hoping the outcome of the tour will be?
We’d love more people to see BANJO. This show, uniquely, speaks directly to all Australians and kicks off a heart-felt conversation about the struggles that we all face either within the expanse of our cities or within the expanse of our regions. The show really moves people and, for this reason, we feel it deserves to be seen by more people.
Our Sydney performances will be very important. We hope that after our performances, the arts industry in Sydney start to twig that great things are happening in the regional NSW arts communities; and more specifically, Port Macquarie.
If the show is received well, we’d like the success of this production to inspire a few more pockets of the Australian arts industry to look this way. I also hope, in some small way, it inspires some industry makers to focus a little less on what productions are being built in the U.S.A and U.K and focus more on what existing stories can be told within our own shores.
What’s the next big thing after BANJO for GYB?
Currently, we are investing a lot into the local arts community here. Apart from building professional productions, I lead The Port Macquarie – Hastings Choir Of Hard Knocks, The CMNC Children’s Choir, we both run performance workshops, with those workshops growing into the school communities next year, and we also produce productions at the Glasshouse that simulate a professional theatre environment for the next generation of performers in Port and Taree.
With so many arts institutions in town, we’d love to one day see the local arts community grow strong enough that touring productions to our area will have to compete alongside consistent, top-level local productions.
As for BANJO, given the poems we use of Paterson’s, we would love to get the production out to the drought stricken communities out west, as we feel they might be able to relate to the production in a way us here on the coast can not. We also plan to take it to the United States, U.K and New Zealand in time.
As for what’s next for Got Ya Back’s productions, we are always working on building new, original productions. We believe the only thing that will make us unique as a company are stories that come from the community we live amongst. We are always on the lookout for local stories that we can assist in telling creatively.
CURRENT TOUR DATES FOR BANJO
March 22nd – Tuncurry Memorial Hall
March 23rd – Saraton Hall, Grafton
March 24th – The Jetty Theatre, Coffs Harbour
March 27th – Sir Henry Parkes School of Arts Theatre, Tenterfield
March 28th – Oddfellows Hall, Kempsey
March 29th – South West Roxy Cinema, South West Rocks
March 30th – Manning Entertainment Centre, Taree
April 6th – Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst, Sydney