By Clare Mendes
In my opinion, yes. You do. Footscray, Seddon, Kingsville, Yarraville – you need independent plays from the other side of town bumping into your local theatre and putting on a high quality show. That’s what we’re about to do with my play TRASH GOES DOWN THE RIVER – in June, we’ll be bumping into your Bluestone Church Arts Space, just around the corner from your Town Hall.
I say ‘the other side of town’ but in fact, I’m just from the other side of the river – Moonee Ponds. I say ‘you’ and ‘your’ because anyone coming to do anything in Footscray, Seddon, Kingsville or Yarraville feels a little bit like an intruder. Your neighbourhoods and village shopping strips are quite cliquey. The director of TRASH, Elizabeth Walley, lives in West Footscray if that helps.
Normally we present our work at La Mama Courthouse, but I saw a couple of shows at Bluestone last year and thought it was quite a beautiful space, a perfect fit for this particular play – here is the postcard blurb:
On a breezy Melbourne night, a homeless woman stands on the top deck of a cruise ferry.
Beside her, Melody Freeburg shivers in her party dress and pearls.
They gaze downstream, desperate to reach their shared Utopia.
And as the Maribyrnong River dips and darkens, they each develop a plan.
Elizabeth agreed it was the right venue for TRASH. Our lighting designer, Bronwyn Pringle, concurs – she has lit productions at Bluestone before and says it has a ‘spiritual ambience’.
Well, it was once the Wesleyan Church. It was built in the late 1800s and has magnificent leadlight windows and impressive architraves – a medieval feel. Our actors have a vestry as their dressing room. As a theatrical space, it is inspiring. Some of the best street art in this city can now be found in Footscray
But when I tell people that we are mounting a play at Bluestone, and that this is in Footscray, I am met with a look. There’s probably an emoji for the look. Curiosity, surprise, confusion. mistrust. Mistrust with a smile – that’s a common response. People want to see our play – they’re just not sure they want to see it in Footscray. “That’s down Dynon Road, isn’t it?” a colleague enquired politely. People who have no reason to go to Footscray tend not to have been there – ever. Quite simply, they don’t associate this suburb, or any suburb in the west, with art of any kind.
Now this is strange, because on 5th April I went to an Arts Forum at your Town Hall and there were plenty of artists. Plenty.
Writers are moving into the house down the road from you. Musicians have always been in the house down the road, ever since 1883 when an influx of European immigrants united to form the Belgravia Brass Band. And you have the Footscray Community Arts Centre, for crying out loud. Extraordinary performances and creative expression in myriad forms spilling out of there each week – it’s a venue you can be proud of, and Bluestone is another.
We will bring theatregoers from the other side of the Maribyrnong to see TRASH next month, though we might have to include a Google Maps link on the booking page. But we’d also really like it if You – the people of Footscray, Seddon, Kingsville and Yarraville – came along. Apart from anything, it’s a very good play.
Emma Cox and Clare Larman are looking strong at rehearsal as ‘Melody’ and ‘Trash’, and Alec Gilbert who plays ‘Rich’ has a powerful stage presence and is also a Footscray local. Elizabeth Walley (The World Without Birds, The Melbourne Monologues) is a slick, meticulous director. Left Bauer Productions (Masterclass, Harvey Milk – The Opera) have a history of backing theatre that pushes the boundaries, which is probably why TRASH appealed to them – yes, it does push a boundary or two.
It runs for 85 minutes, by the way. Beer, wine, champagne, juices, and the chance to talk to the cast after the show available. We would be honoured if you wandered down to your local Arts Space between 13th – 24th June to watch TRASH GOES DOWN THE RIVER.
Trash Goes Down The River, 13th – 24th June , Bluestone Church Arts Space, 8A Hyde St, Footscray, Tues – Sat 7.30pm, Sun 5pm.
WESTSIDER TICKET DEAL – All tix $18.50 www.trybooking.com/PTJQ (Select the ‘I’m a Local’ option.)