I Am Mrs Daisy Bates
what are we doing?
With the support of the Arts Council of Ireland, Australia Council of the Arts, Project Arts Centre, Kildare County Council, Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, Riverbank Arts Centre and Irish Theatre Institute, Speckintime is developing a piece of theatre based on the extraordinary life of Daisy Bates. Central to this work is theatre maker Melissa Nolan. There has been extensive research on the life of Daisy Bates with the aid of a number of international academics.
After workshopping the researched material, development work was presented to invited guests at Project Arts Centre, Dublin in March 2017. Following further script development, a reading was presented at Riverbank Arts Centre on Thursday October 26th. The script is now in a process of further development before its expected production in 2019.
WHo was Daisy Bates?
Daisy Bates was born in Co. Tipperary, Ireland in 1859, emigrating to Australia twenty-three years later. She worked as a governess, managed to marry three times without ever divorcing and had one child. However, she is best known for her decision to devote over 40 years of her life studying Aboriginal people - their history, culture, beliefs and customs. Living in a tent in remote settlements from Western Australia to the edge of the Nullarbor Plain, she wrote books, hundreds of academic papers and countless observations on the subject.
Her accounts, among the first attempts at a serious study of Aboriginal culture, were published by anthropological and geographical societies in Australia and overseas.
In 1912 she became the first woman to be appointed Honorary Protector of Aborigines and in 1933 she was presented with The Order of Commander of the British Empire for her work with Aboriginals.
A largely controversial figure, the consequences of her involvement in Aboriginal life are argued to this day, in recent years her vast collection of detailed records have been used as crucial evidence in the reclamation of Aboriginal native land.
In her role as producer, Melissa has played a large part in the success of Speckintime's first three productions. Holding a Masters Degree in Performance Drama & Theatre from UCD, Melissa is the co-founder of Mouth on Fire theatre company and an Executive Board Member of Irish Equity.
She is also an experienced performer, having undertaken ten of Samuel Beckett’s female roles, three of which were world premiers (Irish language translation by Gabriel Rosenstock).
Having already forged a keen interest in Aboriginal culture, Melissa found inspiration in Irishwoman Daisy Bates' bold decision to devote a life to the study and care of these persecuted people.
Jane Harrison is an indigenous Australian playwright, novelist and researcher. Her involvement as Aboriginal Consultant for this project is thanks to a recommendation by Melbourne UNESCO City of Literature. The Australian Council for the Arts is funding the international collaboration of Jane Harrison and Speckintime.
A descendant of the Muruwari people of New South Wales, Harrison's best-known work is Stolen, a play about the lives of five Aboriginal people from the "stolen generations". The critically acclaimed premiere in 1998 at Playbox (now Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne), was followed by seven annual seasons in Melbourne and tours across Australia. The play then toured to the United Kingdom (twice), Ireland, (twice), Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Harrison was awarded the Australian Writer's Guild AWGIE Nomination, was co-winner of the Kate Challis RAKA Award, and received an Honourable Mention in the CACS National Awards Individual Category for 'An Outstanding Contribution to Australian Culture'. Stolen has been studied on the Victorian VCE and NSW HSC English and drama syllabi.
The creative Team
Researcher/Writer/Performer - Melissa Nolan
Director/Writer - Matthew Ralli
Researcher/Dramaturg - Pamela McQueen
Producer - Aisling O'Brien
Aboriginal Consultant/Researcher - Jane Harrison
Design Consultant - Maree Kearns
Sound Consultant - Carl Kennedy
Movement Director - Sue Mythen
Costume Consultant - Rowena Cunningham
Workshop Performers - Conor Donelan, Marcus Lamb, Madi O'Carroll