Wild, unpredictable, and deeply vulnerable, Barbara and her sister René are singing for their lives. Barbara’s been trying to make it in Sydney, but when their mother’s health deteriorates, the sisters embark on a pilgrimage back home to country.
Full of painful, unfinished business for Barbara, their return sends her into a downward spiral. Can Barbara find a way to resolve the past in time to preserve love in the only family she has known?
Directed by multi-Helpmann award winner Leticia Caceres (The Drover’s Wife), Barbara and the Camp Dogs features original songs co-written by and starring Ursula Yovich (A Christmas Carol, Yibiyung, The Small Poppies), co-written with Alana Valentine (Parramatta Girls, Letters to Lindy) and Adam Ventoura.
Through music that ranges from punk-inspired explosions of rage, to tender rock and soul ballads full of yearning, Barbara and the Camp Dogs is a gob-spit of fun, frenzy and family that finds beauty in honesty and hope in confrontation with the past.
With acclaimed Indigenous performer Ursula Yovich as Barbara, Barbara and the Camp Dogs is a rock-gig musical about home and love. From politics to Rock ‘n’ Roll, this play has it all, topped off with the electrifying voice of Yovich in all new songs about family, heartbreak and life in Australia today.
Yovich says her ferocious lead character is largely inspired by her alter-ego, and is also partly informed by her own journey as a performer. “She’s the side of me I wish I could tap into more often – in a controlled way of course, because she’s wild and sometimes dangerous,” says Yovich. “Barbara was inspired by the women I’ve worked with over the years.”
“Many of whom have this wildness and a fight I just don’t see in the fellas often enough. It’s difficult being a woman on the cusp of 40. You start to become invisible. How do you navigate the later years of your career as a woman in this industry?”
Best known to Belvoir audiences as a wonderful actor, Yovich is also an astonishing musician and songwriter. She has partnered with playwright Alana Valentine to create this down and dirty rock gig filled with theatricality with fellow actors and musicians Elaine Crombie (Top of the Lake: China Girl) and Western GuGuYelanji songman Troy Brady.
Yovich has collaborated with local musicians to form a theatrical all-girl band who will perform live on stage, transforming Belvoir into one of Sydney’s legendary bar room live music venues designed by acclaimed set designer Stephen Curtis (The Drover’s Wife).
“I heard Ursula sing these songs about three years ago. I get to see some fabulous things in my job but this was really electrifying,” said Belvoir Artistic Director Eamon Flack. “Ursula doesn’t just have an incredible voice, she’s taken the idea of black rage and sung it out – and it’s so bold, so theatrical, so joyful. It’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, it’s politics and it’s very moving.”
Barbara and the Camp Dogs
Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Season: 6 – 23 December 2017 (previews: 2 – 5 December)
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Image: Ursula Yovich stars in Barbara and the Camp Dogs – photo by Daniel Boud