‘Minnie' and ‘The Game’
The Armidale Playhouse – April 1998
In conjunction with UNE Theatre Studies
Directed by Janine Bendit
It is Minnie's 40th birthday. She is alone in her room, fifteen feet by ten feet. Eccentric, sad, reminiscent, hopeful, full of life and death. How do these aspects of her life reflect within her inner self?
Minnie has been adapted from Barry Dickins' monologue The Death of Minne. Set in Melbourne, Minnie plays, explores and feels - certainly not for the first time but perhaps the last. This production has been a tool in exploring many angles of what is internalised in one persons mind and rarely exposed.
This production has evolved from a strong collaboration with cast and crew. We have explored what I see as an important part of theatre: what actors can create without realistic props. We decided to throw away most of the physical props and bring out the true nature of storytelling. I am greatly indebted to my wonderfully creative and courageous actors from whom I have learnt so much, and to the support of my crew.
Minnie: Sue Fell
Director: Janine Bendit
Directed by Louise Morley
By Louise Morley. By special arrangement with the author.
Death seemed an appropriate alternative to the misery of life as a convict
at Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land. After being driven to crime by appalling
social conditions in their homeland and harshly sentenced, they were then
packed like sardines in the hold of a ship, only to be thrown into the arms of
Governor Arthur, known as the 'iron hand'. Prisoners worked twelve - to
thirteen - hour days, fuelled by one pound of bread, one ounce of sugar and one
ounce of roasted wheat or coffee. Those that did not 'go quietly' were sent to
the Separation Prison to be 'broken', which meant being locked up in
The Game is based on historical evidence (courtesy of the Port Arthur
Historical Society) which suggests that inmates at Port Arthur actually played
'the game' to escape their misery. Shuttleworth, Creeby and Neptune are
ghosts from Australia's dim, dark convict history - a history which has largely
forgotten the suffering of the individual at the mercy of British Imperialism.
The walls of the local hotel at Port Arthur are decorated with murals of fat,
happy prisoners portrayed as if they are glad to be oppressed; the souvenir
shop sells convict dolls, jail keys, plastic rats and ball-and-chain sets - a
I began workshopping the script with the cast in July 1997 for a performance in October of that year. With further exploration of the script for this current production, each cast member has brought more ideas with which to "play". The result of this, I believe, is a further development of the characters and their story. My thanks to all the cast and crew for their creative input. It has again been a wonderful experience to work with so many talented people. A special thanks to Kyas who has given so much at such short notice.
Neptune: Brendan Pascoe
Director: Louise Morley
You came to this country in fetters and chains,
We envied the poor fellow's fortune. Death brought reprieve
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