World premiere of non profit play highlighting homelessness stems from MNC talent

MNC Combo: Players Theatre members Chris Phillips and John Hincks star in Benchmarks by Chris and Lyn Dockrill of Kempsey. Photo: Supplied
MNC Combo: Players Theatre members Chris Phillips and John Hincks star in Benchmarks by Chris and Lyn Dockrill of Kempsey. Photo: Supplied

Benchmarks is an intense and engaging psychological drama involving the interaction of two very different characters who have one thing in common – their homelessness.

Kempsey writers and film producers Chris and Lyn Dockrill will present the world premiere of their non-profit play Benchmarks, which aims to raise awareness of homelessness, at The Players Theatre, Port Macquarie. 

President of the theatre Simone Sherrin says the Dockrills wanted the premiere to be at The Players because the two actors, John Hincks and Chris Phillips, are loyal members who have appeared in many productions.

“But you have never seen them in roles like this,” Sherrin says.

“I am thrilled to be part of this project,” Phillips says. “I have performed in many large-scale productions, mainly in musical theatre. Stepping into the world of Benchmarks is a radical departure for me. But I love it, the play engages you right from the beginning.” 

The play is booked for the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival where it will be performed on eight days between February 15 and March 17. The team also hope to tour the North Coast with the play before moving on to Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra next year. 

“The play really hits a nerve regarding homelessness and the dedication and incredible line-learning that has gone into this project by the actors really needs to be justified by an extensive touring program,” Dockrill says. 

The production has relied on support from sponsors as well as grants. “We have applied for a Regional Arts Grant, however, to snag one is like winning the lottery,” Dockrill says. “We have already received a significant donation from a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous. We are stunned at this person’s generosity which has halved the amount we need to take the project to the Fringe Festival.”

The team has also started up a crowd-funding site to help get them there. “If we have any money left in surplus at the end of the project, we will donate it to an organisation that helps homeless people,” Dockrill says. 

The world premiere performances of Benchmarks at The Players Theatre are on Friday and Saturday, November 16-17 at 7.30pm and Sunday, November 18, at 2pm. They will also perform it at Comboyne War Memorial Hall on Friday, November 23, at 7.30pm. Tickets are $20-$25 and can be purchased online at TicketHost. There will also be a dinner performance at The Bank Conference Centre Kempsey, on Saturday, November 24, at 7.30pm for $45. 

The team hopes their Mid-North Coast performances will raise $5000 towards their trip to Adelaide. You can donate via their crowd-funding page.