Press release from Dungog Film Festival

Top Australian film and television stars Georgie Parker and Susie Porter are among a cast of leading actors to stage a live performance of John Lonie’s latest screenplay The Savage Garden.

This powerful drama will be presented as part of Dungog Film Festival’s Sydney-based In the Raw script reading program on Monday, 4 April at the Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay.

Writer, John Lonie, best known for the box office success Kokoda and script editor on Japanese Story and Beneath Clouds, has adapted the story from his novel Acts of Love.

The Savage Garden tells the story of an intimate friendship between a young boy and his teacher, the exchange of secrets, stigmatisation and the price of liberation.

Parker plays an outspoken French teacher exiled to remote North Queensland who entrances one of her students (played by NIDA newcomer Benedict Samuel) with knowledge of an outside world he has never known. The screenplay pits townsfolk against each other, mother versus father, and the school against teacher, all battling for the boy’s soul.

Dungog Film Festival Director Allanah Zitserman is proud that In The Raw gives screenwriters a chance to road test their work on audience and industry, prior to production.

“Events of this kind are rare in the Australian film industry so I’m thrilled to have The Savage Garden at In the Raw and to give this talented group of filmmakers and cast this opportunity,” Ms. Zitserman said.

The Savage Garden will be a unique theatrical experience, complete with sound and lighting effects. We’re delighted that the multi-faceted composer Guy Gross (A Heartbeat Away, Farscape, Priscilla) has come on board via APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) to help guide the filmmakers on the music for the performance.”

Screenwriter John Lonie said he thought it would be easy to dramatise his novel but found it challenging, as he was so close to his original work.

“I’m looking forward to hearing The Savage Garden read out at In The Raw and seeing if it’s the same as how it sounds in my head. Is the drama working? What will the audience’s reaction be? These are answers I’m keen to find out. The screenplay is currently in script development stage so this reading will help me decide what changes may be required to take this project on to the silver screen,” Mr Lonie said.

Parker (Home and Away, All Saints) and Porter (Better Than Sex, East West 101, Sisters of War) will be joined on stage by actress Rachael Blake (Lantana, Hawke, False Witness) and Tony Martin (Candy, E-Street, Blue Murders) as the concerned father, alongside newcomers Samuel and Ray Chong Nee.

Director Peter Andrikidis (Wog Boy II – The Kings of Mykonos, Jessica, Underbelly) is attached to the script and will guide the performers through the reading. Andrew Arbuthnot is producing.

In The Raw is a script development program presented in partnership with Sydney Theatre, where professional actors read selected unproduced screenplays in front of a live audience.

Unproduced feature screenplays and television pilots can be submitted to DFF’s In The Raw program for consideration in future events (next confirmed date is Monday, 27 June) by an expert industry panel.

Event Details

Event: Dungog Film Festival in association with Sydney Theatre present In The Raw

Location: Richard Wherrett Studio, Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney 2000

Date/Time: Monday April 4th, 6pm call for prompt 6:30pm start

On completion of the reading, the audience is invited to start a dialogue with the filmmakers. Feedback is encouraged.

Cost: The event is free but attendees must register to attend

Tickets: Tickets can now be reserved online, by phone or in person at the Sydney Theatre box office – 02 9250 1999 / Sydney Theatre Box Office, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay

Further information on In The Raw:

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