WORDS OF SUPPORT
 
     
 
About THE SEAL WIFE Warrnambool, Mildura 2008

‘In my utopia for sensitive souls, Fiona Blair would be receiving multiple awards for her vision, her courage and her bravery for daring to show us a new way of seeing….[the Company} aims to create work that is closely related to the environment in which it is performed and notable for involving local children and adults in its productions…
Sad thoughts are diminished in a moment with the arrival of the men, resurrected and reunited with the women for a night of joyous singing, dancing and love-making. But before we are really aware of it, the mood has shifted again and we are in the midst of heartbreaking separation, the splitting of lives and people into their singular ghostly worlds. Women’s voices read out eulogies for their dead men….

The Mildura production of The Seal Wife was a moving, meditative theatre experience enhanced by its attention to music, lighting and text. The Old Van does well to continue its commitment to brave theatrical works in regional communities, continuing to refresh the stories from our Western cultural tradition while paying homage to our indigenous past. The work is not ‘polished’, and the better for it, as its rawness delivers soul that’s sometimes hard to find in the plethora of cultural options available to us.‘ Donata Carrazza, Real Time.

‘Let’s hope the Lord spares us another year so we can see something like this again…’
Little Old Lady (Mildura)

About The Life and Deaths of Don Koyote Bendigo, Daylesford, Hepburn 2007

’I’ve waited all my life for this’!’ Pat Kendall (Bendigo)

‘You make theatre for ordinary people’ Mark Bannerman (Bendigo)

‘…the set was ingenious, the actors were wonderful, the use of local people – great idea. The Lighting fabulous, all in all, the whole show was an experience I will never forget…
Colleen Bacon (Bendigo)

‘I really injoyed (sic) the show because I love acting. I got to meat (sic) lots of really nice people. I liked the irish dancing. I had never been to the gold mine before & I learned how to punch and other acting skills.’
Laura Downey (Bendigo Girl Guides)

‘…I didn’t want it to end. When I din’t have to go to the mine on Sunday, it felt really weird.’
Gabs (Bendigo Girl Guides)

‘…my mum … was in it. It was great to see her perform… it was at the Central Deborah Goldmine and the lighting and sets made it into a whole new world. I think it’s a terrific experience for ordinary people to be involved in a live production with actors, professional lighting, costumes, direction etc'
Chiron Archbold (Bendigo)

‘You have given the people of this town a wonderful gift.’
Virginia Langstrom (Daylesford)

‘this play, so brilliantly written and directed.. was indeed a great treat for the people of Heywood and surrounding districts… – I consider it a privelige (sic) to be invited to play a small part in the show..’
Hazel McGregor Ages 85 years + 10 months (Heywood)

‘Can’t remember when I’ve laughed so much in a long time.’
Lyn McGrath (Heywood)

About The Bludgers Opera Shepparton 2006

‘The Beggars Opera was an incredible experience..’
Matt Scholten

‘a fantastic production that was original, creative, and challenging..’
Dayna Tinline

About Romeo and Juliet, Merbein 2005


‘…a first timer might reasonably believe that the 410-year-old play was set in Victoria, not Verona. Blair's Romeo and Juliet is robustly and effortlessly Australian. …the results are easy-to-follow, bawdy and vivid. But ‘irreverent’ they are not. The BYO-chair play is performed in a vast and derelict (and breathtakingly well-lit) packing shed… Sparks fly. Literally! …this is a production I am unlikely to forget.’
Chris Boyd, Herald-Sun

About Macbeth, Melbourne 2004

‘It's a shade under 15 years since Melbourne saw a more imaginative and strikingly finished production of a Shakespeare play by an unfunded company... gorgeously dark and thumpingly good...’
Chris Boyd, Herald-Sun

‘ ...performances are beautifully nuanced... In terms of invoking pity and terror, this production has scenes as powerful as any I have seen.... this production is a brilliant vindication of poetic imagination in theatre: using the simplest of resources, The Old Van creates a complex and potent metaphor of the world. And it's a rare example of the idea of theatre as a holy space, in which all present participate in a cathartic enactment of ritual. It also struck me as particularly Australian... Shakespeare's language comes fully alive with a touch of the vernacular. Underneath this production's boldness and ingenuity, there was a self-belief in the emotional arc of the play which can only emerge from a true naivety, a freshness that took these old ideas and made something utterly new.’
Alison Croggon Theatrenotes

‘Justly praised for it's freshness of vision... inspired direction...’
Bill Perrett, Age Agenda

‘This is a beautiful, elegant production proving that great theatre does not need a great budget. …First rate and let’s hope we see more work of this standard in the city, let alone in the country.’
Catherine Lambert, Sunday Herald Sun

About A Midsummer Night's Dreaming. Mildura.1956 Mildura 2003/4

‘...the appearance of the Latje Latje Cultural Dance Troupe from out of the water was a stunning sight...the effects of spotlights and bonfires - the smoke showing up in the lights - created an eerie atmosphere, enhanced by background didgeridoo music.:. A Midsummer Night's Dreaming was a fantastic performance…’ Sunraysia Daily.

About Macbeth, Daylesford 2000


'...the slow, sinuous quality of a relentless dream...deeply atmospheric, eerie and involving...[a] superb and unusual production.'
Narrelle Harris, Stage Left

'The Old Van theatre company... presented it as if it was a new play…. It works like a dream. And all achieved with so little. Such simple props. So bare a stage. Yet filled with riches. This is the magic. The way the company is able to get into our souls with the use of words and some simple imagery... The town owes thanks to the director... and actors... for a magical performance.'
Petrus Spronk, Hepburn Shire Advocate

‘A theatre of voices, of echoes and embodied sound, the rich, darkly-magical ritual quality of this stripped back production makes it superb.’
Jonathan Marshall, Inpress 7

‘The Old Van theatre company's Macbeth at Daylesford was one of the memorable, really outstanding, memorable events of the whole year.’
Geoffrey Milne, The Sunday Show, 3LO

‘This is a piece of beautiful, minimalist chilling theatre. Staged with an almost complete non-existence of props and staging effects, the atmosphere is eerie and gripping... I had one of those wonderful feelings of complete transformation only live theatre can produce.’
Rebecca Lister, Hepburn Shire Advocate.

About Faith Healer,Daylesford 1999


‘...this Company (Old Van) is receiving much critical acclaim for their work and we are fortunate to have them in our town.'
Rebecca Lister, Hepburn Shire Advocate

About The Swan, Daylesford 1999

‘I went to Daylesford last week, to see this play that was on the Lake that was called The Swan, but there was something - it wasn't at all political - but it was profoundly beautiful.’
Hannie Rayson, Arts Today, Radio National

‘I have seen shows that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars which have not come close to the intimacy, poetry and warmth of this beautiful production.” the company’ [has an] evident commitment to “producing plays which speak deeply to people” and to a theatre “which is honest, poetic and free from pretension.’
Michael Cathcart of Arts Today (letter)

About Faith Healer, Melbourne 1998

'No frills, but thrilling'
Kate Herbert, Herald Sun

'Packs a mighty emotional wallop' Bob Crimeen, Sunday Herald Sun

'A trio of glorious performances'
Dina Ross, The Age