South West Drama Festival director Jane Sherwood to perform on stage at the Stirling Theatre

On the stage: Dresser Karen (Carole Wilson, left) ensures Lydia (Jane Sherwood) maintains the right scents for the occasion. Photo: Supplied.

On the stage: Dresser Karen (Carole Wilson, left) ensures Lydia (Jane Sherwood) maintains the right scents for the occasion. Photo: Supplied.

Award-winning South West Drama Festival director Jane Sherwood is starting Stirling Theatre's 50th year with a farewell performance.

In The Actress, Sherwood will play a famous stage performer on the verge of retirement.

Written by Peter Quilter and directed by Carryn McLean, the comedy is set in a dressing room with the family of Lydia Martin - including her ex-husband, theatre colleagues and fiancé - wanting to wish her well.

Humour and biting comments come thick and fast but, despite Lydia's determination to retire, she realises she still has a few issues to sort through in her mind.

Quilter is known for his Broadway play End of the Rainbow, adapted into the 2019 Renée Zellweger film Judy.

"Lydia Martin was a great star in her day but is now ageing and not getting the great roles of her heyday," Sherwood said.

"She has decided to bow out and move with her rich, older fiancé to Switzerland.

"It's a huge role with lots of dialogue - I had backed away from acting a few years ago and concentrated on directing, in fear of forgetting lines.

"But I've come back to acting slowly over the past 18 months when I realised I could still learn them.

"Working with Ursula Johnson last year, who's in her 90s and still learning parts, has inspired me."

Involved with the Perth theatre scene since 2005, Sherwood was a founding member of Phoenix Theatre and has been involved with the Old Mill, Stirling, Black Swan, Rag and Bone, Kwinana and Harbour theatres, ARENAarts and Fringe World.

She has been named best director at the annual Finley Awards, Dramafest, South West Drama Festival, and Hills Festival of Theatre.

In 2018, Sherwood took a break from theatre to work on five films but made a return last year - acting in Lady Willpower, directing Ten Quid at the Stirling Theatre, and appearing in Kate's Story for Life on Hold Productions.

"The role of Lydia in The Actress was a great opportunity and a character I could relate to, given she's ageing and past her prime," she laughed.

"I was keen to work with McLean - we have a great cast with people I have worked with before or have long wanted to."

McLean said she liked the fact that Quilter's characters were real and had depth.

"I have read a couple of his scripts including Glorious! and Curtain Up, and he exposes people's vulnerabilities as well as their humour," she said.

The Actress plays at 8pm on February 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 with 2pm matinees on February 9 and 16.

Tickets are $22 for adults, $20 concession. Book through Morris News on 9446 9120 or at trybooking.com/BFNMJ.

Stirling Theatre is on Morris Place, Innaloo.