On a Friday night back in September, my dad (Farmer Bill) and I attended Outback Theatre for Young People’s original and brilliant production, “A Town Called Mills Acre”… Namely to watch the youngest Barr and budding thespian, Henry take to the stage.
Henry and his great mate, Tom Mason, had been chosen to mentor the debuting actors and actresses from Barham Primary School – Mrs Laughlin’s class of K/1 Red.
Built in 1921, the School of Arts Hall in Murray Street, Barham, swelled to capacity with over 300 people attending the final night’s performance. A culmination of more than six month’s work with our Outback Theatre for Young People’s (OTYP) Angela Frost and Richie Hallal.
OTYP Artistic Director, Angela and Designer, Richie worked tirelessly with a core cast of five students from Barham High School - Jesse Buchanan, Shanelle Faul, Katherine Loomes, Annie Stewart and Eddy Wilson – together they developed and wrote the play; a story about the families within the rural community of Mills Acre.
The story of a small rural community facing the reality of massive water allocation reductions for irrigated crops, falling commodity prices, of essential services being closed and the drift of country families to cities. A town called Mills Acre could have been Barham or Hay or Wakool or Moulamein or any number of small towns and communities within the Murray Darling Basin in rural Australia.
The full cast included over eighty additional students from Barham High School, Barham Primary School, Moulamein Primary School and Wakool Burraboi Primary School.
“Shelby McCoy and her family run an irrigation rice farm. Their livelihood comes under pressure due to changes in water access, environmental concerns, and the growing fear of an uncertain future. The McCoys are forced to question their own lifestyle and very fabric that holds their community together. This heart-warming story of a family paving their way forward through innovation, creativity and courage.”
The play very aptly conveys to the audience what it feels like to face the prospect of losing the job you had always assumed was yours for life and with it your house, your possessions, your security and your dreams.
It is hoped with further funding and sponsorship this powerful play will go on to dazzle audiences in our national capital, Canberra. Stay tuned…