AN award-winning Melbourne Festival show is coming to Bathurst this week, two years after its national tour was postponed amid fallout from funding cuts to the Australia Council.
Roslyn Oades’ Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday is a work of verbatim theatre about people hitting the landmark ages of 18 and 80, scripted from hundreds of hours of interviews over two years.
It premiered to critical acclaim at the Malthouse Theatre as part of the 2014 Melbourne Festival and won two prizes at Victoria's Green Room Awards.
A planned national tour in 2016 was postponed after the federal government diverted more than $100 million from the Australia Council to a new fund administered by then arts minister George Brandis’ office.
Following that announcement, the Australia Council cut one of its four grant rounds for the year. That meant the tour had to be abandoned, despite producers having booked dates at 17 venues around the country.
Senator Brandis’ successor Mitch Fifield has since scrapped the fund and returned about two-thirds of the funding to the Australia Council.
Oades developed the play with the help of an Australia Council grant and worked for two years with the Malthouse and Performing Lines, which manages tour operations.
The show is set in the immediately familiar confines of a neighbourhood community centre.
“Because it is set in a community hall, the venues can provide certain things, like the piano from the rehearsal rooms, the tea cups from their kitchen and the plastic chairs,” Oades said.
“It really has a sense of familiarity.”
She said it was important audiences away from the major capitals were able to see contemporary theatre.
“There’s so little access for those shows in regional areas, shows that aren't huge commercial successes. To share it beyond the major cities is great,” she said.
Performances of Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday will be at Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre on Saturday, July 22 at 8pm and Monday, July 24 at 11am.
Phone 6333 6161 for bookings and information.