In the beginning… (2007)
Two Straws sprung into existence when besties Alex Lee and Veronica Milsom embarked on their first collaboration, Porky Pies. The pair met during a production of Dimboola, a hilarious country wedding where Veronica played the bride Maureen and Alex played the bridesmaid Shirl. Having loved the way Dimboola put their audience at the centre of the mayhem, the pair were looking for a different social experience they could give their Melbourne Fringe Festival audience.
The result? Porky Pies – the awkward and entertaining 10 year reunion of Parsons Park Secondary College.
“…everyone seemed to enjoy it, laughed a lot and left on a high. What more could one hope for?”
Paul Kooperman, Australian Stage, 10 October 2007
Alex and Veronica shared the writing duties and when it came into production, Veronica took to the stage as delusional unemployed actress, Lindy, while Alex oversaw operations as producer and director. Two Straws assembled a solid comedic cast and Porkies was a big hit. Click here to read more about it.
Farewell Fringe, hello Comedy Festival (2008)
Plans to start writing a new production were put on hold when Veronica made it into the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) Broadcasting course. She jetted over to Perth for a year, but gave Alex her blessing to keep the Porky Pies train rolling with a season in the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
This time around Alex treaded the boards as Lindy and enlisted the help of talented director Helen McFarlane. Many original cast members returned along with a few new faces. Veronica and Alex also made some hefty script changes before production – changing Stella to Stan and including a film component where classmates watch the video they made for the Year 12 time capsule. All this made for another cracking season. Click here to read more about it.
“Porky Pies is an entertaining, fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable comedy experience – and definitely a little
different from the usual fare of stand-up on offer at the comedy festival.
Arthur Grant, Arts Hub, 31 March, 2008
During Veronica’s time in Perth, Alex visited twice. The intension to start developing their next venture was there, but sightseeing and time in the sun soon became the priority.
In was in September 2008 that Alex teamed up with fellow writer and friend-of-a-friend, Nick Musgrove, and development of The Pavilion commenced.
Roadtrip to Sydney anyone? (2009)
In early 2009 Musical Chairs, a short play Alex had written the previous year was accepted into the Sydney Short+Sweet Festival. Alex took up the challenge of producing an interstate show – all be it a very short one – and before they knew it Alex, her cast of six and three talking chairs were on their way to Sydney.
After an unfortunate start – the devastating Victorian bushfires meant most of the cast had to fly to Sydney while Alex and cast member Aaron drove the props and set far inland before heading north – Musical Chairs performed six solid shows at the Newtown Theatre and had an absolute hoot doing so. Click here to learn more about Musical Chairs.
New ventures for Two Straws (2009 – 2010)
By the end of 2009, both Alex and Veronica had big things on the horizon in their lives outside Two Straws. Veronica landed a role in the ABCs Hungry Beast which initiated a move to Sydney. She then filmed two seasons of the show, worked on other writing projects and continued her love of comedic characterisations including on GO!’s WTF. Meanwhile Alex had begun work that August as a Storyliner on Neighbours and was writing eight children’s books which were published the following year. She and Nick were also nearing completion of The Pavilion.
As the middle of 2010 rolled around, The Pavilion was gathering speed and Veronica decided to leave Alex to fly the Two Straws banner while she continued working out of Sydney. Alex secured one of Melbourne’s premiere theatre venues for The Pavilion, Chapel off Chapel in Prahran, as well as the funding and resources needed to ensure a strong production. She bought the highly recommended director, Tom Peterson on board, then she, Tom and Nick set about casting the show. After having loads of great actors through the door, they finally decided on their cast of eleven who would bring the Glendale Cricket Club to life.
Porky Pies is published!
The year also ended with some good Porkies news, the play being accepted for publication by the Australian Script Centre. It will be available online and in print from early in 2011.
What’s next? (2011 & beyond)
For Alex and Veronica under Two Straws, it was a ‘bye for now’ rather than a ‘farewell’. With a bit of luck the moons will align and this former bride and bridesmaid will be in a position to collaborate again.
So far in 2011, Veronica has landed a role in Ben Elton’s new series on Channel 9, Ben Elton Live from Planet Earth, and is doing regular shifts on Triple J, while Alex continues to be the driving force behind Two Straws, a Neighbours storyliner, children’s author and is set to rock Melbourne’s comedy scene with The Pavilion.
Beyond that, who knows? What is clear though is that Two Straws is as committed as ever to produce entertaining work and get all sorts of people excited about live theatre. With The Pavilion for example, we’ll have cricket tragics sitting alongside theatre boffins in the audience, and if we’re done our job properly, both camps will be equally moved and sore from laughter.