For a city that worships its premier performing arts venue, the spectacular Opera House, it has to be remembered sometimes that not all theatre is staged in such world-famous buildings.

One such case is the Alchemy Theatre Company in Surry Hills. Situated just a few blocks off Oxford Street along Riley Street and hidden behind a nondescript roller door is the new theatre company’s home, suitably named The Lock UP Theatre.

While Alchemy was set up two years ago, it was only seven months ago that the new venue threw up the roller door for the first time to paying customers.

So successful has Alchemy been that the company’s co-director, Sarah Goodchild, reveals plans are under way to extend the 2007 season from six to nine plays.

We always wanted our own space so we could do the things we wanted to do, Goodchild says. This used to be a clothing warehouse, and so we had to gut it and re-fit the space to make it work. But we have been busy ever since.

The actress arrived in Australia two years ago, having worked on the British stage and on TV for 12 years.

The young company is about to present the Australian premiere of The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek, an American drama which tells of two teenagers struggling to survive the 1930s Depression.

The pair -“ Pace, a sexually curious 17-year-old, and Dalton, a more na? 15-year-old -“ decide the one way they can make a name for themselves is by racing a train across the local creek, and living to tell the tale.

There is a real metaphor about coming of age in the writing, and it is very Stand By Me, Goodchild says, who plays the role of Pace opposite Nathaniel Scotcher as Dalton.

They also talk about the train in a slightly sexual way -“ of this big, strong charging thing, but it is also done in a fun way. Running across the trestle in the story proved difficult, particularly as we are working in a 60-foot space. But I think we have managed to do it.

The play, by Naomi Wallace, is directed by Penny Lindley, who is the other director of Alchemy.

Beyond The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek, Alchemy plans to stage the Australian premiere of the play Solstice in February.

In the meantime, Goodchild explains she will be working as hard behind the scenes in running the theatre space as she will be on stage acting in the plays. And that is just the way she likes it.

I came out to Australia to get away from the English weather, but I never intended on setting up this company, she says. We did it when we realised how little work there was around and decided to make our own work. Our goal was always to put on good theatre.

I really believe Australia is the land of opportunity and, if you are passionate enough and prepared to put your head down and get to work, then you can make it happen here.


The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek opens 17 November at The Lock UP, 255 Riley Street, Surry Hills. Bookings on 1300 306 776 or at

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