Of change and resilience

TWO years in the making, Farm is a unique collaboration between Merredin farmers and Spare Parts Puppet Theatre.

Spare Parts’ creative team immersed itself in the daily lives of the wheat belt community to get a feel for the grit, the drama, and the everyday.

Interspersed with real-life stories that unfolded during the visit, the show tells of a young girl’s journey from inquisitive, determined child to a woman prepared to be part of something she loves and believes in.

It explores themes of change and resilience using dance, puppetry and movement, says director Philip Mitchell.

The world premiere was held in Merredin last week, and the city folk waited nervously as the packed theatre made their judgement.

“[We were] nervous about how it would be received…it was like we were telling farmers how to suck eggs,” Cowcher says.

He needn’t have worried, having opened their homes and hearts to the project, the audience loved it.

“[Even] though they’d expected classic puppetry with marionettes,” Cowcher says.

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Welcoming and friendly, the farming families were at first reticent, theatre business manager Megan Roberts says.

“They thought their stories weren’t interesting. But they had fantastic stories.”

The Spare Parts’ crew spent time in classrooms at Merredin’s two schools as part of the project.

“There were a lot of recurring themes…that affected the way the play was written,” marketing manager Megan Roberts says of Ian Sinclair’s script.

CB radio is a big part of family life on the land, especially the long, long hours put in during harvesting.

“A lot of kids said ‘at harvest this is how we talk to dad’. They say good morning and they say goodnight on the radio,” Ms Roberts says.

Audiences can expect a lot of CB radio, but Spare Parts has long left the classic marrionettes of Punch and Judy style puppetry behind: the pared back stage will have all the sparsity of the dry country it portrays.

This original and very Western Australian show is on at Spare Parts, 1 Short Street, Fremantle September 27 to october 11, and is suitable for kids 4+ and adults.

For times and booking go to http://www.sppt.asn.au or call 9335 5044.

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