PYT Fairfield and In Wild Company are thrilled to present the world premiere of The Hen House – a light-hearted, musical and story-rich homage to the inspirational and (sometimes) tragic lives of migrant female factory workers during the 70’s, on stage at Riverside Theatres Parramatta this September.
Created by dynamic sibling trio Josipa Draisma (In Wild Company’s Ljubicica Wild Violet), Sime Kneževic (Philip Parsons Playwright Award Nominee) and Mara Kneževic (PYT Fairfield’s Playlist), and directed by Sydney Theatre Award-winner Anthea Williams (Belvoir’s Hir), The Hen House features original music by Zeljko Papic (Eurovision: Australia Decides Top 20) inspired by 1970s Australian pub rock.
Inspired by the lived experience of Josipa, Sime and Mara’s late grandmother, The Hen House weaves together extraordinary, humorous and tragic multi-lingual stories of female migrant factory workers from Western Sydney.
With distinctly live and loud music played by an electrifying all-female rock band, The Hen House elevates diverse women’s voices as powerful and hugely significant to Australia’s social and economic history.
It’s 1976. Sherbet’s Howzat is No.1 on the Charts. Industries are booming and it is migrant women who are cashing in. Pavica, a young Croatian mother is dressed in her crisp white uniform, smiling proudly on the production line, elbows deep in chicken carcasses, loving her job and her new Australian life.
Mila, however, does NOT love her job. In fact, she despises it. The screaming chooks, screeching machines, not to mention the tenosynovitis that plagues the production line. For her, this factory is a hell house. Mila is hellbent on taking this chicken business, and ripping it to bits.
Pavica and Mila see so much potential in their new lives in Australia, however the management of the rough-as-guts factory-floor are yet to see the potential in them. In the world of chicken processing, migrant women are rendered dispensable, invisible and voiceless. That is, until they start to hear their own voice.
“Celebrating the lives of migrant women of my grandmother’s generation is an important part of recognising the impact these women made, paving the way for opportunities and livelihoods for many including myself to this very day,” said Founder and Creative Director of In Wild Company, Josipa Draisma.
“The Hen House advocates for audiences to experience these stories as extraordinary ‘herstory’ and invites us to see migrant women in a very different way – ambitious, capable and resilient.”
Director: Anthea Williams | Featuring: Josipa Draisma, Mara Kneževic | Musical Direction: Zeljko Papic | Performers: Gwyneth Jansen, Sarah Homeh, Hayley Chan, Sil Jin | Design: Isabel Hudson | Choreography: Emma Saunders | Co-Writers: Josipa Draisma, Mara Kneževic, Sime Kneževic | Producer: PYT Fairfield
The Hen House
Lennox Theatre – Riverside Theatres, Corner Church and Market Streets, Parramatta
Season: 7 – 9 September 2023
Information and Bookings: www.riversideparramatta.com.au
Following the Riverside Theatres season, The Hen House will tour to Camden Civic Centre (13 – 14 September), Orange Civic Centre (16 September), The Art House, Wyong (20 September) and the Civic Pavilion – The Concourse, Chatswood (22 September).
Image: The Hen House – photo by Anna Kucera