Sydney’s fresh Workhorse Theatre Co. here to stay

If you were to wonder who the hippest new players of theatre in the country are, you would be lucky to know I have prepared a whole article on the movers and shakers of Workhouse Theatre Company, Sydney.

Workhorse Theatre’s co-director, Troy Harrison

The company has already created a huge buzz with Angela Bishop reporting from their racy debut play That Pretty Pretty; or, The Rape Play by Sheila Callaghan. Next it was the Bell Shakespeare Company calling them up on the phone.

In August of 2011, Workhorse Theatre Company was born out of a love for acting and an even greater desire to step up and create some theatre.

I spoke with Co-director of the company Troy Harrison about his foray into producing, directing and marketing out of the land of dance and musical theatre.

Acting great Larry Moss inspired Workhorse Theatre Company, unbeknownst to them at the time.  Harrison recalls Moss describing the common excuse Aussies use for not having enough work as “horse shit.”

“A few of us (Zoe Trillsbach, Katherine Beck and Nick Bartlett) got together for scene study after the workshop and then we thought, why not perform these… which led to why not create our own theatre company” said Harrison.

“A lot of people say, I’d like to start a theatre company, and they never get past the first year. We know it’s a lot of hard work and we’re loving it…we play to our strengths…”

They have positioned themselves in the industry as a company that pushes limits, smashes boundaries and chooses work that is not on the safe side.

“Through our acting training, over the past 6 years, we have discovered the playwrights’ work who we really like… Our first play was very well received and we had so much press attention to the racy nature of the show”, he explained.

Luckily enough, Harrison regards actress Cat Stewart as being a mentor on the journey to helping Workhorse stay on the road they want. She has been integral to helping the co-directors find a vision for the future.

“We are around to stay…we have a one year, three year, five year, and 10 year plan”.

Not only giving local actors more work, Workhorse has employed leading directors such as theatre professional Stuart Maunder to lead their shows.

Harrison wears his producer’s hat in the lead up to productions, but also takes another role within the company once the shows open – as an actor. Once rehearsals begin, he says has to separate the business mind and the actor’s mind and does so with an interesting cognitive process.

“Sometimes I want to make the dark and dramatic choices, whereas the producer in me is saying ‘Hold on, what do I want the audience to walk away feeling?'”

I’m sure this company will evoke many new feelings in their audiences for years to come.

The second season by Workhorse Theatre Co. is now playing:
Savage in Limbo by John Patrick Shanley at the Tap Gallery Darlinghurst, 16 October-November 3 in Sydney.

For more information visit

Rebecca Grennan

Rebecca 'Bex' Grennan owns and runs a website for creative entrepreneurs (actors, singers, dancers, theatre folk and unconventional creative businesses) focusing on career coaching, social media marketing strategies, and workshops online and offline uncovering all the Industry myths you’ve been blinded by. She has also worked in the entertainment industry for 12 years as a triple threat and voice over artist represented by Mark Byrne Management in Sydney. Performing History Includes: Theatre: Sweet Charity, Mame, The Boyfriend, (Melbourne Production Company), The Boy from Oz-Hugh Jackman, Shout! The Legend of the Wild One, Grease- the Arena Spectacular and Opera Australia, Universal Studios Japan, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines Film: Happy Feet, The Son of the Mask

Rebecca Grennan

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