Sweet mem­o­ries

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Theatre - Tanya MacNaughton

XAN­THE Paige was cap­ti­vated by Su­gar­land when Syd­ney-based Aus­tralian Theatre for Young Peo­ple (ATYP) staged the pro­duc­tion in 2014, the same year she grad­u­ated from NIDA.

The ac­tor was an au­di­ence mem­ber that time and was thrilled by the news ATYP was re­mount­ing the piece in 2016.

Writ­ten by Rachael Coopes and Wayne Blair, the play was a re­sult of a se­ries of res­i­den­cies in Kather­ine, North­ern Ter­ri­tory that aimed to cre­ate a per­sonal story about life grow­ing up in re­mote Aus­tralia.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to work with ATYP, hav­ing seen a lot of their shows,” Paige said.

“I just loved Su­gar­land and thought it was a beau­ti­ful piece with so much heart.

“It deals with such im­por­tant is­sues, so when I heard that it was be­ing pre­sented again, it was re­ally ex­cit­ing and in­cred­i­ble when I got this role.”

Paige (23) plays 16-year-old Erica, one of five teenagers and the new girl in town fol­low­ing her father’s trans­fer to the RAAF Base just out­side Kather­ine.

“Her story deals with is­sues of dis­place­ment, try­ing to find a sense of place and be­long­ing when she moves around so much,” Paige said. “She lives a tran­sient life, never sees her dad and just the strug­gles as­so­ci­ated with that,

which I didn’t know about prior to go­ing to Kather­ine, where we had the op­por­tu­nity to go on the RAAF Base and chat to fam­i­lies there.

“You re­alise those is­sues are so huge and there are a lot of men­tal health is­sues and as a re­sult of that, a lot of self-harm that goes on.

“It’s in­cred­i­bly sad and not read­ily talked about.

“It was phe­nom­e­nal, es­pe­cially meet­ing these young peo­ple who are so strong and re­silient, but forced to be by cir­cum­stance.” Paige said the play was a world away from her child­hood, grow­ing up in north­ern NSW town Mur­willum­bah un­til she was 18 years old, moving house but never hav­ing to change friends. “That’s all part of Erica’s jour­ney within the play and then her some­what un­likely friend­ship with Nina, who is a young in­dige­nous girl at school,” she said. “They bond and form a friend­ship, which is ini­tially through a shared mu­si­cal in­ter­est. “These are the sto­ries of young Aus­tralians and the idea of the play is to ex­press they are not alone. “It’s a way of open­ing the con­ver­sa­tion.” Su­gar­land will be pre­sented in Perth by Su­bi­aco’s Bark­ing Gecko Theatre Com­pany to co­in­cide with Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Week.

Xan­the Paige

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