Blaxland and Daughter newsletter - by writer Wendy Blaxland
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August 2015

Exciting news: we are planning a season of no fewer than four plays in 2016!
They are
  • a return season of Pioneers in Petticoats
  • Matilda Fish and the Bushranger
And two plays especially for schools:
  • GOLD
  • Alice in Wonderland
Matilda Fish and the Bushranger is a spin-off from Pioneers in Petticoats. It originally began as an exploration of the story behind the woman who held the first land grant in Killara – Matilda’s house stood right where Killara station is now. I relished writing the scene where convicts in chains manage to slip free (with the application of some handy soap on their heels) en route by boat to their trial in Sydney – and it’s all true. Every society struggles with treating people fairly, and in colonial Sydney both women and convicts were disadvantaged in many ways.

GOLD is an extension of a much earlier play I wrote at the University of New England – like so many of us, I’ve always been fascinated by the times when our cities emptied through gold fever, and Victoria’s population increased sevenfold. It is enlivened by a number of rollicking songs, a sprinkle of Henry Lawson poems and a whole host of larger than life characters.

And Alice? Well, it’s 150 years since Lewis Carroll published his iconic Alice in Wonderland, so we’re celebrating with a production that acknowledges this master of nonsense and acute observation.


The writing is well underway, with first drafts of Alice and GOLD already passed to dramaturg Jess, and Matilda Fish halfway there. We are exploring various ideas of how to run it all, and our core production team of Deirdre Burges as designer and Taylor Allen as production manager remains unchanged.

One of the great successes of this year for Blaxland and Daughter has been our schools seasons, which ranged as far west as Dubbo and north as Walcha, thanks to our stalwart supporters ADFAS Blue Mountains and the Blue Mountains City Councils, whose small grants enable us to visit schools disadvantaged by size or distance.

Another was the huge audience CROSSING achieved at the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre (courtesy of Bathurst Council) in June as an integral part of the Bathurst 200 Bicentenary Commemorations. This was partly due to some wonderful publicity help from local enthusiast Sue Loudon, and also to our involvement in the well-attended and very interesting Colonial Fair in Bathurst where our team gave people a taste of what to expect at the performance. Hearing the laughter and applause and seeing our actors rise to the occasion made this a memorable afternoon. It also shows how being part of a larger event can really help us reach our audiences.

And on the other hand, the one-woman show Pioneers in Petticoats was a perfect match for unusual smaller historic venues like our home base Brush Farm House in Eastwood (Gregory Blaxland’s home two hundred years ago), the delightful Eskbank House and Museum at Lithgow, run by Wendy Hawkes and her team, and the iconic Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, where we performed for a home schooling network. Brilliant actress Brigid O’Sullivan gained universal applause for her tour de force performance as she brought four colonial women to life again. Stay tuned to see where we’ll pop up with this one next year.

Last piece of news is our new website at Thanks to Jess’s hard work, this has just gone live, and gives all the details of how schools can book their shows for 2016. How easy it is to excite students about history and literature by using the magic of theatre. Do visit, and tell any schools you know about it.

Best wishes,
Wendy Blaxland


Writing at Brush Farm House
Slowly, out of facts and dreams and half-remembered stories
the play takes shape,
applauded by Victorian ghosts of theatre impresarios
who chose the iron lacework of this house;
guffawed at by the lads who found themselves in penal servitude
because of a chance throw of fate’s dice;
causing perhaps a rare sparkle in the eye of a patriarch
riven by self-doubt,
marvelling at how ghosts echo down the years
through new-fangled machines.


Visit our new website
Copyright © 2015 Blaxland and Daughter, All rights reserved.

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