Thursday, April 15th, 2010
THE Old Mill Theatre is taking a trip back to 1807 at the end of April with a play set aboard a convict ship on its way to Australia.

Female Transport, directed by Hywel Williams, follows the story of six women convicts on their six-month journey aboard the Sydney Cove and their determination to survive the conditions below the decks.

Actor Phil Barnett, playing Sarge in the play, said that while Female Transport is classified as a drama there are plenty of lighter moments and earthy humour as the six women try to get the better of their captors.

“While the women are treated with indifference and brutality, which was considered appropriate in the early 19th century, they survive by their wits, determination and sheer cunning,” he said.

“My character is determined to make them obey, contrasted with the surgeon who tries to ensure the women are treated reasonably.

“The women are all strong individuals forced by circumstances to confront their dire situation and, in doing so, come to a realisation they are more likely to survive the trip and penal colony if they face everything together.

“Over the course of the ship’s journey, the women become ready to tackle the unknown land of Australia and make it a more just place than the England they left behind.”

Written by Steve Gooch in 1973, Hwyel Williams has taken on the job of directing Female Transport for the Old Mill Theatre, five years after he originally directed it for Phoenix Theatre.

“Hywel enjoy the production so much in 2005 he’s been itching to do it again ever since,” Barnett said.

Playwright Gooch is an experienced dramatist Steve and author of more than 40 scripts. His career as a writer and teacher includes stage plays, adaptations, radio and screenplays, as well as the popular series The Cut Shakespeare.

More than 500 productions of Female Transport have been staged around the world since it was written and was described by The Guardian as “a tough, realistic and detailed account of the hardships endured by six female convicts transported to Australia in the early 19th century”.

Joining Barnett in the cast are Kirstie Francis, Kyla Jones, Melissa Kiiveri, Jocelyn O’Neil, Kate O’Sullivan, Ariel Simone, Damien Nott, Adam Dear and Tim Prosser.

Female Transport plays at 8pm, April 23, 24, 28, 29, May 1, 5, 6, 7 and 8 with a 2pm matinee on May 2. Tickets are $20, $15 concession – book on (08) 9367 8719.

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on Mends Street, South Perth, opposite the Windsor Hotel.

ft-jocelyn-kate: Jocelyn O’Neil as Sarah and Kate O’Sullivan as Charlotte in the Old Mill Theatre’s production of Female Transport.

ft-phil-melissa1: Phil Barnett as the sergeant and Melissa Kiiveri as Pitty in Female Transport at the Old Mill Theatre.

ft-phil-kate: Phil Barnett as the sergeant Kate O’Sullivan as Charlotte in Female Transport, a play set aboard an 1807 convict ship.

ft-ariel2: Ariel Simon as Winnie is shackled to the ship in Female Transport.

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Old Mill Theatre

South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The Council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.

The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. We are therefore celebrating our official 60th birthday party this year.

A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links our two backstage dressing rooms, and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which is wholly self-funded.

The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from our local council, the City of South Perth. The City undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008, and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
Phil Barnett
P: 0433 695 538

Hywel Williams

P: 0410 274 299


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