Behind the scenes at UlumbarraPhotos, videos

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Behind the scenes at Ulumbarra | Photos, videos Cast and crew of Shake and Stir’s Wuthering Heights. Pictures: DARREN HOWE

Teams construct the sets on Monday night.

Teams construct the sets on Monday night.

Teams construct the sets on Monday night.

Teams construct the sets on Monday night.

Theatre technician Ben Van Dillen works on the sets on Monday night.

Theatre technician Ben Van Dillen works on the sets on Monday night.

Theatre technician Ben Van Dillen works on the sets on Monday night.

Teams work on the sets on Monday night.

Teams work on the sets on Monday night.

Teams work on the sets on Monday night.

Gemma Willing and Linden Wilkinson practice some physical movements.

Gemma Willing and Nelle Lee run through their lines before the show.

Gemma Willing and Nelle Lee run through their lines before the show.

Tim Dashwood and Gemma Willing rehearse.

Tim Dashwood and Gemma Willing rehearse.

Wuthering Heights cast and crew on set before the show.

Actors warm up backstage before the show.

Gemma Willing and Nelle Lee warm up before the show.

Production manager Clark Corby prepares for the show.

Nick Skubij on stage.

Linden Wilkinson applies her make up.

Ross Balbuziente adjust his costume.

Ross Balbuziente gets in the mindset of Heathcliff.

Ross Balbuziente and Gemma Willing stretch backstage.

Ross Balbuziente and Nick Skubij backstage.

Linden Wilkinson.

Ross Balbuziente.

Linden Wilkinson starts the show.

Linden Wilkinson.

Ross Balbuziente gets his hair right.

Linden Wilkinson.

Linden Wilkinson and Nelle Lee.

Nelle Lee puts her final touch of make up on.

Linden Wilkinson.

Tim Dashwood gets his hair to hold.

Linden Wilkinson on stage.

Nelle Lee.

Gemma Willing.

TweetFacebookImpressive first yearTHERE was no time for the staff at Ulumbarra to hold a major celebration for the theatre’s first birthday.

It was a simple slice of cake and then on to preparing for the next show.

But as technicians and staff buzzed around the theatre David Lloyd was able to sit and see that Ulumbarra blitzed its targets for the number people through the doors of the theatre.

“We had a plan that talked about between 50 and 60 thousand people (visiting) in the first year,” he said.

“We have hit 116,000 for Ulumbarra and with the other 30 to 40,000 people who have been to The Capital it is essentially 150,000 passing through and having a performing arts experience in Bendigo.

“For any regional community that is enormous and it absolutely indicates there is a need for a 1000-seat venue in Bendigo.”

As well as being impressive numbers for a regional theatre, 116,000 people is a great number for theatres in the metropolitan areas.

“We thought the uptake would be a bit suck it and see but people have gravitated to the theatre and been waiting for the venue to open up,” Mr Lloyd said.

Behind the scenes at UlumbarraIt hasn’t all been musicals and dramas that attracted patrons to the theatre.

Ulumbarra hosted a table tennis tournament, gymnastics, calisthenics, conferences and graduations.

“We very deliberately wanted to have a strong program in the first year,” he said.

“(Programming sport) is new for a start, there is a lot of major sporting events in Bendigo.

“The feedback from the table tennis was that ‘this is great, we want to do something where we can really showcase the sport.’

“What ever they do, athletes or performing arts, they are the elite in their field and it was a delight to see them on stage.”

As well as performing arts crowds loving the venue, Bendigo Senior Secondary School has enjoyed having new state-of-the-art facilities at its disposal.

“It has been terrific for us, not just the students but the young people across Bendigo,” BSSC principal Dale Pearce said.

“For them to see high-calibre performances up close, as well as workshops and masterclass, has been significant.”

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Rod Fyffe, BSSC principal Dale Pearce and Capital Venues and Events manager David Lloyd celebrate Ulumbarra’s first birthday.

Thanks to Ulumbarra, BSSC has access to two high-level kitchens, a music room, dance studio and courtyard spaces.

“There’s a small stage out in the courtyard that students from the music facility perform on,” Mr Pearce said.

“We have held really big events like graduations and awards ceremonies and when we run an event now there is always a performance element to it.

“It’s difficult to (imagine school life without Ulumbarra). We went through a long period of inconvenience with construction but for the new students, (having Ulumbarra) is all they have known.

“It very quickly became part and parcel to what we do.”

But while it is easy to gush about Ulumbarra, it has all been smooth sailing.

If Mr Pearce and Mr Lloyd had a magic wand, there is are two issues they would go back in time to resolve.

“One that was well publicised was the difficulties with the contractor,” Mr Pearce said.

“That relationship between the contractor and the sub-contractors. We all felt it was difficult, especially for the local sub-contractors.

“Parking was also initially an issue and some people are still not sure, so that’s potentially one (issue) as well.”

Mr Lloyd agreed that despite a strong marketing campaign, the parking was an issue for the theatre when it opened.

“There’s always little improvements you can make,” he said.

“One thing we could have done better is more effective communication about parking. Once you know where to park it isn’t an issue, but you have to know.

“Because we had so many people visiting such a diverse program, there weren’t many repeat visitors in the first period.

“Everyone was coming for the first time and trying to find where to park. We put stuff on our website and social media but if you aren’t looking for it you won’t see it.

“So if I had a magic wand, everybody would have been aware of exactly where to park and it wouldn’t be an issue.

Flashback, 2014: Construction of Bendigo’s new Ulumbarra Theatre “Otherwise, I think the awareness was really high, the community take up was really strong, the program well regarded and I think (the first year) has been a huge success.”

Ulumbarra’s program continues to be as busy as ever but Mr Lloyd is remaining reserved on reaching the same numbers over the next 12 months.

“I don’t think we can expect a repeat of 2015 but bookings are still strong,” he said.

“We won’t have a spare Friday or Saturday between now and the end of year. We are still incredibly busy with a diverse program.

“We are getting more bookings and the reputation of our audience is spreading as is the reputation of the venue and Bendigo being a great place to include on a tour.”

Mr Lloyd said he believes Ulumbarra combined with the Bendigo Art Gallery has made Bendigo an arts capital.

“People are talking about Bendigo and performing arts in the same breath as visual arts,” he said.

“That has positioned Bendigo, and I know I’m biased, but I think we are the arts capital of Australia. It is an amazing outcome for a regional city.

“To have a centre with a cluster (of arts venues) excelling in their field in one city is a great outcome.”

Large space able to draw great showsThe addition Ulumbarra to the arts precinct has meant Bendigo has been able to put on shows that Capital Venues and Events manager David Lloyd has only dreamed of.

One of the shows he was eager to bring to Bendigo was the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.

“Taking nothing away from The Capital but it’s very hard to scale up (visiting shows),” he said.

“I’ve been a big fan of the Fruities for many years but we haven’t been able to bring them to Bendigo because we can’t showcase them on The Capital stage.

“But to be able to showcase them at Ulumbarra, you can see great things. We had 850 people of all ages in the audience who were having a ball.”

Ulumbarra will follow on from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus with Circus Oz and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa later in the year.

Ulumbarra 2016 season launch“That large scale means we can do more of a spectacle and get in the general public’s eyes a bit,” he said.

“Also, being able to bring a diva like Dame Kiri we couldn’t do at The Capital because it wouldn’t work with 500 seats.

“The acoustics are also a key component of that and (Ulumbarra) is an acoustically designed space.”

Mr Lloyd said the most popular shows were still musicals.

“It was neck and neck between Mary Poppins and Ned (A New Australian Musical) as to what has been most poplar in terms of numbers,” he said.

“I think Mary probably had about 1000 more people.

“You couldn’t have done that show at The Capital, so it was great to be able to do arguably the most famous and family-friendly musical.”

The diverse, family-friendly program has also attracted new people and crowds to the theatre.

Mr Lloyd said there was an enormous amount of people coming to the theatre for the first time.

“That’s down to the program being diverse but there is also a buzz in the community” he said.

“People are more motivated to give theatre a go and see new things.

“Certainly, the Ulumbarra project has attracted some new people that we can hopefully turn into regular theatre people.”

Shake and Stir’s Nick SkubijUlumbarra popular with artistsULUMBARRA Theatre is impressing visiting artists with its state-of-the-art facilities and wowing them with its architecture.

No matter what the program holds drama, musicals, musicians or even sporting tournaments, Capital Venues and Events manager David Lloyd has only heard good things.

“The feedback we get from people coming from outside of Bendigo is that it is spectacular,” he said.

“It is a world-leading, great modern theatre built around an old jail.”

Shake N Stir visited Ulumbarra to put on Wuthering Heights last Tuesday.

“We are lucky to be going to beautiful theatre like this one. it’s incredible,” founding memberNick Skubij said.

“We were at The Capital a couple of years ago but it’s our first time in the prison, which is great.”

Wuthering Heights visitsShepparton on April 27, Warrnambool on April 29 and Ballarat on May 17.

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