According to the Victorian Government Department of Justice “the number of women sentenced or remanded in prison custody in Victoria increased by an alarming 84%” between 1998 and 2003, approximately 45% of whom “had previously been under sentence” (Better Pathways policy). It is partly from within this context that Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company presents She’s Landed at the Gatwick, at ChapeloffChapel in Prahran.
Of course, theatre is not solely an opportunity for entertainment and its value does not solely lie within any given finished product. Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company, founded in 1980 at Fairlea Women’s Prison, has been consistently producing work that exemplifies this perspective. She’s Landed at the Gatwick is a gutsy, layered tale of endurance in the face of huge obstacles, and home in the face of recurrent homelessness.
The Gatwick is a St.Kilda rooming house, once apparently a glamorous building, but now facing destruction. That is, until current and past residents band together to save their home. Devised and performed by women (mostly) who have been incarcerated and subsequently released from prison, She’s Landed at the Gatwick is part of a successful project, founded by Artistic Director Maud Clarke, which aims to enable disadvantaged women and youth to develop their own creative voices. It also aims to present mainstream society with a reality which they, perhaps, generally prefer to avoid.
Written and directed by Kharen Harper, devised by the fifteen performers and with musical direction by Lucy O’Grady, She’s Landed at the Gatwick is a simple and moving production, containing moments of humour, music, sadness and anger. As a production I found the moments of song to be the most theatrically successful, as they captured the emotional authenticity this production has aimed for. Some technical issues need a little ironing out, sound levels for instance, and not all the performers have acquired an ease on stage, though many of them have and it is even sometimes difficult to believe a few are not professional. But technical quibbles do seem a little beside the point, when there is so much to applaud about the process behind the evolution of this production.
The performers, who have devised She’s Landed at the Gatwick, successfully challenge audience perceptions of what it is to be both disenfranchised and empowered. Though frequently victimized, these performers are not victims. Far from it. This is a production which, overall, exemplifies an attitude of resilience, determination and good will.
She’s Landed at the Gatwick is a production which delves into the difficult and uncomfortable territory of intergenerational disadvantage and abuse.
It is a confronting and revealing portrayal of contemporary lives on the fringe of mainstream, and of the value of a safe home, regardless of who you are.
Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company presents
She’s landed at The Gatwick!
Written and directed by Kharen Harper
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran (Melways: Map 2L Ref J10)
Dates: Fri 16 - 25 November
Preview: Fri 16 – all tix $12
Times: Thurs – Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2pm
Tickets: $20 Full, $12 Concession, $40 Family, $8 Grp 10+
Bookings: 03 8290 7000