FARM PUTS BUSH IN SPOTLIGHT
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.”
Chloe Flockart (front) with Ruth Battle.