7 September 2022

Forgotten stories of war-time nurse to premiere at Goulburn's first Festival of Regional Theatre

| Katrina Condie
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Books and old photo

Forgotten works by Millicent Armstrong will be revived at the festival. Photo: Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

Long-lost works by celebrated First World War nurse and playwright Millicent Armstrong will be revived at Goulburn’s first Festival of Regional Theatre from 30 September to 3 October.

The premiere of Drought and Other Plays will feature four short works by Ms Armstrong, whose award-winning plays have been brought to life by Gunning-based Music Theatre Projects Ltd.

The plays were written between the first and second world wars, and director and producer Dianna Nixon said the festival was an ideal opportunity to bring the Goulburn farmer into the public awareness.

“This amazing person lived near Gunning, went to the Western Front, was awarded a Croix de Guerre for bravery, became a soldier settler, and is listed on Wikipedia as: playwright, farmer,” Ms Nixon said.

“But no-one was aware she’d existed. As I delved deeper, I became obsessed with bringing Millicent’s story and work back into the public eye.”

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The festival program will also feature a special performance of The Waltz, commemorating inspirational regional director David Letch, and Salon by Arts on Tour, which will pitch new works by regional creatives, along with professional development for aspiring producers.

The inaugural One Act Wonders short-play competition aims to attract entries from regional theatre companies around the state.

The festival, at the new Goulburn Performing Arts Centre, will celebrate the abundance of creative talent in regional NSW.

Centre manager Raina Savage said the state-of-the-art contemporary venue had made professional theatre experiences accessible to the local audience.

“We now want to throw open the doors to the many talented theatre makers in the region and across NSW, and let their creativity loose on our main stage,” she said.

Actors on stage

Pauline Mullen and Martin Sanders reprise their roles in The Waltz, which will play at the Festival of Regional Theatre. Photo: Goulburn Mulwaree Council.

Amateur theatre groups are invited to take part in the One Act Wonders short-play competition from 2-3 October, with prizes and awards for best production and best original script, supported by Mark Bradbury Legal.

The Waltz, a play as tender as it is heart-wrenching, by Goulburn-based writer David Cole, will be featured on the Sunday night.

Theatre makers with works in development or ready to tour can apply to pitch their work to a keen audience of venue managers from across NSW and the ACT, as part of the Arts on Tour Salon.

AOT’s free Touring Lab on Saturday, 1 October, will take emerging regional producers through the fundamentals of how to take their work on tour.

Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Peter Walker said there was something for everyone in the “stunning and fun new festival”.

“Whether as actors, directors or producers who want to put their work on display or learn how to take it on the road, and of course for the audience, who will be able to enjoy a wide variety of theatre from drama to comedy and everything in between,” he said.

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A grant from the NSW Government’s Reconnecting Regional NSW – Community Events Program ensures events will be free or low cost, with no charge for Touring Lab, Salon or audiences attending the One Act Wonders competition.

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said the festival would bring local communities together and support the events and hospitality sectors while bolstering economic recovery following the COVID-19 lockdowns.

“People have been disconnected from family and friends, but now they’re getting out and about again, we want to see communities thriving and businesses benefitting from more local activities, events and opportunities in regions like Goulburn,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

Applications for the One Act Wonders competition close on 16 September and are available at www.goulburnpac.com.au or from the Goulburn Performing Arts Centre box office.

For tickets or further information, contact the Goulburn Performing Arts Centre box office between 10 am and 3 pm Tuesday to Friday, or phone 4823 4999.

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