Perth actor Sarah McNeill starts Lit Live at Centre for Stories


Actor Sarah McNeill.
Actor Sarah McNeill.

ACTOR Sarah McNeill admits to always having been a drama queen and has a lot to thank for it.

After her graduation from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, a 19-year-old McNeill moved to Melbourne to work in film, television and theatre, where she met her husband Greg while they played husband and wife in new Australia play Jam Tomorrow.

“Life imitated art and we got married shortly after the play finished,” McNeill said.

“We moved to Perth in 1986 and bought a house in Kensington that same year.”

The couple have maintained their acting careers through work at Effie Crump Theatre, Perth Theatre Company and Black Swan State Theatre Company, as well as film and television while bringing up son Will, who followed in the family business and graduated from WAAPA, and daughter Meg.

A change in Perth’s theatre landscape, particularly in the previous year where McNeill found less opportunities available, led her to start presenting public readings at book launches and other events.

“I began to realise how much people enjoyed listening to good stories,” McNeill said.

“Like many people, I am also an avid fan of podcasts but we often listen to podcasts while doing something else – walking the dog, gardening, driving. I thought it would be great to offer adults an opportunity to sit down for a while with a glass of wine (or any drink really), relax and listen to good actors read great stories.”

She began Lit Live in March at Centre for Stories in Northbridge, where professional actors read entertaining literature live on stage on the first Wednesday of every month.

The next Lit Live will be on Wednesday, April 4, based around a theme of secret lives and featuring The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

“Lots of people know the film, but not many have read James Thurber’s original 1939 story,” she said.

“There will also be a monologue from Australian playwright Hannie Rayson and a new short story by a new Perth author. April actors are Bernie Davis, Caitlin Beresford-Ord and Will McNeill. I will also read and host the event.”

McNeill said using actors meant the readings had all the nuance, humour, pathos and energy a good story required.

“It is also an opportunity for people to hear author’s works they might not know about or just to hear great classics that they know of but perhaps have never read,” she said.

“My aim each month is to include a good mix of Australian writers along with the best international writers. Works will include short fiction, essays or extracts from plays/novels and will range from the very funny to the very serious.”

The ticket price includes wine, soft drinks and nibbles. Bookings at www.centreforstories.com.