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The Man Who Dreamt The Stars

Media Release: January 24, 2014 in Theatre |

A Merrigong Theatre Company production in association with The Disability Trust
The Man Who Dreamt the Stars
will inspire and delight at IPAC in February 2014

Man in astronaut suit and helmet laughing at the stars

click on image for hi-res download

Funny, playful and absurd, The Man Who Dreamt the Stars is a new devised theatre work starring two actors with perceived intellectual disabilities alongside two professional actors.

The driving force of the work is the courage it takes for us all as individuals to stake our place in the world and, in dreaming, to transcend perceived limitations, whatever they may be. Director Anne-Louise Rentell

The Man Who Dreamt the Stars is a magical and moving story about the power of imagination. Four years in the making, Merrigong Theatre Company’s latest production will remind us that in the face of life’s challenges and restrictions there is great beauty in our dreams and imaginings. It is being performed at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre in Wollongong from February 14 to 22 (with previews on the 12th and 13th) as part of Merrigong’s Season 2014.

The play tells the story of The Quiet Man (Philip Prentice), a man who is obsessed with all things astronomical; his solitary days spent dreaming of space travel. On the night of a solar storm, his peaceful seclusion is disrupted by a crack in the space-time continuum, and into his world come three lonely figures. Will the cosmic forces unleashed in this brave new world transform his dreams into reality?

The Man Who Dreamt the Stars is a new work with a unique artistic vision, the result of a long-term partnership between Merrigong and respected disability services provider The Disability Trust.

Directed by Anne-Louise Rentell, it will be performed by a cast of four; Wollongong-based professional actors Alicia Battestini and Drayton Morley, both of whom were recently seen in Merrigong’s production Dead Man Brake by Alana Valentine, and two actors with perceived intellectual disabilities, including Phillip Prentice and Malcolm Allison.

Phillip Prentice is a great collaborator and has been with the Altogether Drama group for over 20 years,” says Anne-Louise Rentell. He is open, intelligent and willing to experiment. He does a lot of his own research at home, and it his interest in documentaries, outer space, and Doctor Who that has inspired the core theme and character in the work.

The Disability Trust’s Altogether Drama Group has been running since 1993, and Merrigong Theatre Company first started working with the group back in 2006. The two organisations committed to producing their first professional theatre work involving performers with and without disability in 2011, and have since gained the support of the NSW Government through Arts NSW and Ageing, Disability and Home Care.

Merrigong’s collaboration with The Disability Trust is the motivation for this work, but not its subject matter says Rentell. In the first instance it was important for us to make a high calibre, professional theatre work.  We were more interested in the broader topic of what it means to be a person with a disability.

Since working with the Trust, I have been inspired by the participants who, in the face of their limitations, remain engaged, active members of the community, and who have their own unique hopes and dreams. This was the driving force of the theme of the work — the mettle it takes for us all as individuals to stake our place in the world and, in dreaming, to even transcend perceived limitations — whatever they may be.

The production is also notable for its strongly visual narrative elements, some of which will be created through interactive video design by gifted Sydney lighting designer Toby Knyvett. Toby’s design adds a highly imaginative, almost cyber-punk vibe to the work. Joining him in the creative team are sound designer Darryl Wallace, set and costume designer Imogen Ross and movement designer Lee Pemberton.

The Disability Trust has been fully supportive of the process from the beginning and we have a great deal of pride of what is being achieved said Michael Norris, Manager — Sport and Recreation Services for The Disability Trust.

  • Director Anne-Louise Rentell
  • Lighting & Video Designer Toby Knyvett
  • Set & Costume Designer Imogen Ross
  • Sound Designer Daryl Wallis
  • Movement Director Lee Pemberton
  • Cast Alicia Battestini, Drayton Morley, Phillip Prentice and Malcolm Allison


Adult: $49, Adult early week (Mon-Thu)/Conc/Group 8+: $44
Conc/Group 8+ early week (Mon-Thu): $39
Previews: $35, School Groups 8+: $22, Under 30s: $29
(Under 30s tickets are only available in person or over the phone. A $6.50 transaction fee applies to phone and internet bookings — but not subscriptions)

Performance Times

Wed 12 Feb & Thu 13 Feb 7.30 (preview)
Fri 14 Feb & Sat 15 Feb 7.30pm
Tue 18 Feb 6.30pm, Wed 19 Feb 7.30pm, Thu 20 Feb 11am & 7.30pm
Fri 21 Feb 7.30pm, Sat 22 Feb 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Post-show Q&A: Thu 20 Feb 11am & 7.30pm
Audio Described and Captioned Performance: Sat 22 Feb 2.30pm
Schools: Thu 20 Feb 11am (includes post-show Q&A)

Media Enquiries

Please contact Emma at Emma Collison Publicity on 02 9326 5554 or 0418 584 795 or