Alex Foster, Sandy Bell, Daryl Kendrick, Penny Foster

A Family Affair

Patrick Rundle spoke to arts enthusiasts Daryl Kendrick and Sandy Bell about how supporting theatre became a family affair.

I first met Daryl Kendrick and Sandy Bell at an MTC Donor function following the performance of Double Indemnity earlier this year. I remember being taken back with their genuine enthusiasm for the company and their passion for theatre more broadly. I was also inspired by the fact that, as a family, they have been attending MTC for a number of years. Leading the way was Sandy with her two daughters, Alex and Penny, followed by Daryl, who joined the family clan sharing a similar verve for all things theatre.

I caught up with Sandy, Alex, Penny and Daryl, after they had been to see MTC’s production of Disgraced to find out why they support MTC and why theatre plays such a big role in their lives.

All four family members have very distinct memories of attending or participating in live theatre from a very early age. One of the first live performances Daryl can remember attending was an original production of West Side Story at the 1962 Seattle World Fair – he was hooked. For Daryl, it is the technical process of making theatre that most intrigues him and as a young Associate Professor at West Point Military Academy, New York, he was an active participant in theatre productions (both on stage and behind the scenes).

One of Sandy’s first theatrical experiences was a trip into Melbourne to see the musical favourite, My Fair Lady. Sandy remembers how attending the theatre as a girl would be an outing for the whole family to enjoy and fondly recalls the sense of ceremony and excitement created by her mum. The feeling of pure joy before attending the theatre has never left Sandy and is something which she has passed on to her daughters, Alex and Penny.

Encouraged by Sandy’s enthusiasm Alex and Penny have always gravitated towards theatre as a form of entertainment and intellectual stimulation. From a very early age both girls remember attending classic such as Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie and Beauty and the Beast. Alex and Penny, as both remember being captivated by the visual spectacle of theatre, and this childhood appreciation for live performance is something they have carried with them to adulthood.

The family agree that there are many reasons to attend live performance, but the primary reason they continue to support MTC, year after year, is because of the entertaining way in which an MTC production builds empathy, encourages discussion, is thought provoking and challenges preconceived ideas. Likening theatre to ‘sitting around a camp’, Daryl, Sandy, Alex and Penny evoke a sense of the intrinsically human and deeply personal nature of live storytelling, which sparks in us the desire to discuss, to debate and to unpack what has just been communicated on stage. It is this notion of theatre as forum which they find most stimulating.

As for donating – they support MTC because they believe that it is an icon of the cultural landscape in Melbourne. They are also inspired by the work MTC does more broadly and understand that their donation goes to supporting, not only the great work on our Mainstage, but also the work we do to make theatre more accessible to the new generation through our subsidies of under 30 tickets, and the Company’s commitment to developing new Australian stories, encouraging and supporting emerging playwrights, actors, designers and directors.

When asked what was the best thing about supporting MTC, they all agreed it was the feeling you get from donating to something that brings your family together and fills your life with such joy.

On behalf of everyone at MTC we would like to thank Daryl, Sandy, Alex and Penny for their continued support and passionate advocacy.

Sandy, Alex, Penny and Daryl spoke to Patrick Rundle.
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