FARM PUTS BUSH IN SPOT­LIGHT

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Stage - Tanya MacNaughton

DROUGHT, bush­fires and kan­ga­roo plagues are all part of Spare Parts Pup­pet The­atre’s new pro­duc­tion, Farm.

Di­rec­tor Philip Mitchell said the company had set out to tell a re­gional Aus­tralian tale that was more than “that sort of Old MacDon­ald had a Farm type story”.

“We wanted to tell a story that was very au­then­tic and came from the peo­ple and chil­dren of re­gional Aus­tralia,” Mitchell said.

“We chose Merredin as a typ­i­cal place that could rep­re­sent many places with agri­cul­ture and live­stock, and a small com­mu­nity that re­lies on farm­ing to be a vi­brant town.”

After a two-week res­i­dency in­volv­ing rid­ing com­bine har­vesters and lis­ten­ing to the Wheat­belt town lo­cals, Mitchell and writer Ian Sinclair re­alised how much farm­ing had changed.

“There was an 80-year-old farmer who sounded like he’d just grad­u­ated from agri­cul­tural col­lege in sus­tain­abil­ity; he knew all about the land and salin­ity,” Mitchell said.

There is also a move­ment called Far­mHers, with women be­com­ing lead­ers in the farm­ing com­mu­nity.

“Our story is of a young girl who takes over the farm,” Mitchell said.

“The story spans the cy­cle of sea­sons over a year, as well as a gen­er­a­tion.”

The four-per­son cast in­cludes Chloe Flockart, who grew up on her fam­ily farm at Bruce Rock, near Merredin, and has first­hand knowl­edge of the com­mu­nity.

Spare Parts Pup­pet The­atre pre­miered Farm in Merredin last week and will per­form a Fre­man­tle sea­son of the 50-minute show, suit­able for four-year-olds and older, dur­ing the school hol­i­days.

“When you look at the images, colour, light and peo­ple, I think we’ve cap­tured a re­ally beau­ti­ful and pos­i­tive vi­sion of what it’s like to be an Aus­tralian liv­ing in a re­gional area,” Mitchell said.

“I think it’s so im­por­tant that city au­di­ences un­der­stand th­ese sto­ries and that au­then­tic beauty.”

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Chloe Flockart (front) with Ruth Bat­tle.

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