By Alesha Capone
Werribee playwright Alaine Beek says she felt “so excited” after one of her plays was selected for the VCE Drama Playlist 2022.
Jack and Millie, a show that Beek wrote about her experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer, is among six productions that Victorian students will study this year.
Beek said it was great to see her script included on the VCE list, among that of classical playwrights and big theatre companies.
“It’s a really amazing recognition for good work,” she said.
Jack and Millie, directed by Nigel Sutton and starring Beek, Ross Daniels and Phil Cameron-Smith, will be performed at theatres during March.
“It’s the true story of my breast cancer journey, I wanted it to be positive, I didn’t want it to be gloom and doom,” Beek said.
She said the character of Jack was reminiscent of her own “inner voice” while she had cancer.
“There is a lot of comedy in that,” she said.
Jack and Millie debuted at the Saltwater Community Centre Amphitheatre during 2021, although COVID restrictions caused dress rehearsal and opening night to be cancelled.
Beek said the Saltwater venue manager, Bob – a cancer survivor – was enthusiastic about staging the show.
“All ages attended the show, from young teenagers to the elderly and across the board audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive,” Beek said.
Beek said that she has been offering to visit local schools to students talk about Jack and Millie.
“I have a passion for working with youth and have done so for a number of years in performing arts,” she said.
Beek said she was in the process of converting her Werribee-based theatre company, Essence Productions, into a not-for-profit organisation.
Beek said she hoped this would help the company get more funding for shows and to work with young people.
Jack and Millie will be staged March 1-3 at the Wyndham Cultural Centre, March 5 at The Potato Shed, Drysdale, March 8-9 at Griffith Regional Theatre, March 11-12 at Albury Entertainment Centre and March 16-19 at The Atheneum, Melbourne. Tickets (Wyndham shows): $35 full, $30 concession, $30 groups of four people or more, $20 students/matinee.