Taking On The Chocolate Frog, a new Australian television series which centres on an unlikely troupe of Shakespearean wannabes and is inspired by the work of infamous criminal turned award-winning playwright, Jim McNeil, will make its World Television Premiere on Monday 2 June, 9pm on STUDIO.
The three-part series will challenge ex-criminals to perform McNeil’s The Chocolate Frog, and will follow the process from rehearsal to final performance in front of a live audience of A-list actors and respected theatre critics; inside the gaol in which the play emerged – Parramatta Correctional Centre.
Exclusively produced with funding assistance from Screen Australia, Screen NSW and Foxtel’s Production Fund, this remarkable series offers a group of ex-criminals the opportunity to reinvent themselves as stage actors under the guidance of their teacher and mentor Grant Thompson. A respected industry teacher, Grant’s past students have secured paid acting work in both Australian and US films and television series, including Underbelly and Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms.
Following the emotional journey of Grant and his cast, the series illustrates the fascinating story of Jim McNeil – famous as an Australian Writer’s Guild Award winning playwright, but also one of Australia’s most violent criminals from the 1960s who publicly struggled to assimilate back into society and life outside prison. McNeil wrote The Chocolate Frog during a 17-year prison sentence, in an attempt to show those who knew nothing of prison life that prison values are just faithful reflections of some of society’s own attitudes.