Senior students of Young People's Theatre will bring the haunting tale of Picnic at Hanging Rock to life next month - their first production for the 2020 season.
The tight ensemble of talented senior students and adult members, led by YPT alumni and tutor Anna Lambert, will step away from traditional storytelling theatre in their adaption of the classic Australian fictional story where three students and a teacher go missing while visiting Hanging Rock one summer's day in 1990.
The YPT production uses physical theatre, art and soundscape instead of props, which cast member Bridget Phipps, 17, said created a unique theatrical experience.
"We do soundscaping in this, transformational characters - so one person will be playing two characters at different times in the one show, which I do - because we only have one cast, which is what makes a senior production different from a junior one," Phipps said.
"In this one, everyone is on the stage at one time. We do physical theatre in this so we use our bodies to create physical scenes around us. We don't have any backdrops. It's us creating the scene. We haven't done this before, so it's pretty cool."
Phipps, who is a classical singer in addition to an actor, has been part of YPT for 10 years, joining in the footsteps of her equally talented older siblings Jasmine, Callum and Harold.
During that time, Phipps, a Hunter School of Performing Arts student, has featured in about 20 productions. She most recently performed as Grizabella in YPT's production of CATS Abridged, as March Hare in Disney's Alice in Wonderland JR and as Pish Tush in Hot Mikado.
In Picnic at Hanging Rock, Phipps plays the characters of Mr Hussey and Rosamund. Mr Hussey is a coachman at Appleyard College, the school that the students and teacher who disappear in the story attend, and Rosamund, a student boarder.
"With a character, you have to create a backstory for them. You have to make them a person. In the play I go from a girl who just wants to be popular to a man that's a driver," Phipps said. "Sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle. I was struggling with the guy's voice. But if you portray the character confidently, the audience receives it well."
Picnic at Hanging Rock will be the first YPT production under the management of two new artistic directors, Leilani Boughton and Riley McLean. They will be assisted by YPT students Larissa Barwell and Rory Worthington. Picnic at Hanging Rock will show for eight performances at the YPT Theatre in Hamilton from February 8 to 29. Tickets cost between $20-$25, available at ypt.org.au/bookings.