TALE TO CITY FOLK
DROUGHT, bushfires and kangaroo plagues are all part of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s new production, Farm.
Director Philip Mitchell, of East Fremantle, 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.
“So we chose Merredin as a typical place that could represent many places with agriculture and livestock and a small community which 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.
“A lot of the farmers we spoke to are extremely wise now,” Mitchell said.
“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.”
There are also Farmhers, women becoming leaders in the farming community.
“So our story is of a young girl who takes over the farm and steps up to that love of the land,” Mitchell said.
“The story spans the cycle of seasons over a year, as well as a generation.”
The four-person cast includes performer Chloe Flockart, who grew up on her family farm at Bruce Rock, near Merredin, and had 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 children four years 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.”
Ruth Battle and Chloe Flockart appear in Farm.