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Adelaide Fringe 2011

A Past of Beginnings

Canberra College Drama

Genre: Community Theatre


Odeon II


Low Down


Two ‘tween’ sisters move into a new house and discover an old box in the garage full of letters, journals, newspaper clippings, books, ballet shoes and stethoscope. As they unpack each item one by one, the lives of five inspirational women who changed the status of women in Australia in the 20th century come to life. As a Year 11/12 school-student devised and delivered piece of educational theatre, it hits the mark for the target age group.


 Theatre for children and particularly where it is educational with a Q&A afterwards makes for interesting viewing. This form of theatre is very telling about how effective a live production can be as a vehicle for delivering ‘heavy’ themes/ lessons/ facts/ knowledge, and how well the actual performance delivers by getting these across to an audience, and how engaged the audience remain throughout the production. So if the full house of mostly Year 5 girl students is anything to go by, A Past Of Beginnings receives the tick of approval across all these areas!

It’s also telling when you learn something new yourself in one of your own areas of expertise, which was brought to light by this production when the facts about 5 inspirational Australian women in the 20th century were illustrated through a combination of physical theatre, traditional narrative and sketch comedy. The production represented women across all walks of lives – pioneering, sport, professions and the arts.
Comparing girls and young women of today with women of the last century not only through the way the sisters were dressed but also through their relationships with eachother and their mother, as well as the use of an interesting intellude in the form of a commercial break for laundry detergent from the 1950s ensured that the audience could recognise that though a lot has changed, at the same time much has still stayed the same. The methods in which this was presented allowed both the adults and the year 5’s in the audience to access this concept on different levels.
The work overall was well constructed but perhaps would have benefited from de-cluttering – there were too many theatrical techniques going on which resulted in the audience being not completely clear regarding a couple of plot intentions and created a loss of dramatic focus.
The large cast all seemed to be given a favourable and fair billing with opportunities for individuals to shine. While throughout there was a fairly consistent delivery, the commitment levels varied amongst the cast as well as during the piece and at times the timing and connection between paired actors was noticeably off. There were a couple of standout performances though (which interestingly the student audience picked up based on their interaction with the cast in the Q&A) and there was a lovely ‘Little Britain’ “But I’m a Lady” moment in the book club! Which I suspect only those in the ‘know’ recognised.

Thumbs up for the role of theatre in education, for Canberra College and not only for thoroughly entertaining audiences, but letting us learn a few new things as well!


Show Website

Contact: Ian Walker