It’s Tarantino meets Deadwood in the backblocks of 19th century Australia, as Belvoir in association with Oombarra Productions presents Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife – a full-throttle drama of our colonial past.
Henry Lawson’s story of the Drover’s Wife paints her stoic silhouette against an unforgiving landscape. Alone with her children and her dog she stares down the serpent; it’s the frontier myth captured in just a few pages that vividly illustrates the hand-to-mouth existence of a drover’s family.
“I was heavily influenced by the original story, and if you know it, you will see that,” says writer and performer, Leah Purcell. “But I’ve activated all the characters she recalls in the original story. In my version, I have brought them to life for the stage and reinvented the conversations and action that might have taken place.”
“Weaving my great grandfather’s story through the play has given it its Aboriginality so to speak, and I’ve embellished the story to give more depth and drama for the stage.”
In Purcell’s new play the old story gets a very fresh rewrite. Once again the Drover’s Wife is confronted by a threat in her yard, but now it’s a man. He’s bleeding, he’s got secrets, and he’s black. She knows there’s a fugitive wanted for killing whites, and the district is thick with troopers, but something’s holding the Drover’s Wife back from turning this fella in…
Director Leticia Ca?ceres shapes plays around indomitable women like no one else. Here she reunites with Purcell after Belvoir’s 2011 sleeper hit The Dark Room. In 2014 Purcell won The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award. Her prize was a commission to write this play. Belvoir and The Balnaves Foundation are proud to present the first production of a Balnaves Award-winning commission.
This production marks a new chapter for the Award with commissioned plays making their way to the mainstage. A taut thriller of our pioneering past, with a black sting to the tail, The Drover’s Wife reaches from our nation’s infancy into our complicated present. And best of all, Purcell’s playing the Wife herself!
“Leah Purcell first showed what an amazing storyteller she is 14 years ago in Box the Pony, in which she told her own story… Since then she has become one of our finest actors…” – The Australian
Director: Leticia Caceres Featuring: Tony Cogin, Mark Coles Smith, Benedict Hardie, Will McDonald, Leah Purcell Set Designer: Stephen Curtis Costume Designer: Tess Schofield Lighting Designer: Verity Hampson Composer/Sound Designer: THE SWEATS Dramaturg: Anthea Williams Movement Director: Scott Witt Traditional Movement & Language Consultant/Spear Maker: Sean Choolburra Dialect Coach: Jennifer White Prop Maker: Alexi Creecy Production Manager: Michele Bauer Stage Manager: Isabella Kerdijk Assistant Stage Manager: Keiren Smith
The Drover’s Wife
Belvoir Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills
Season continues to 16 October 2016
Information and Bookings: www.belvoir.com.au
Image: Leah Purcell stars in The Drover’s Wife – photo by Brett Boardman