The 2022-23 year period marks the centennial of the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA). During that time they have successfully lobbied governments for road safety improvements, created a rural crisis fund for people impacted by natural disasters, supported victims of domestic violence, provided financial and hands-on support for families in need, catered for weddings, funerals and epic bike-riding events, raised money through cent sales and cared for so many women and families across Australia. And yes, they’re great cooks.
This project is a celebration of the QCWA’s achievements over the past 100 years and a look at what lies ahead. It’s been my privilege to be welcomed into their Halls and their homes. To hear their stories, their histories and witness their camaraderie. The amazing women who make up the QCWA have achieved so much, and continue to empower other women, throughout the far north and across the State. I aim to bring their stories to life though public theatre performances.
Research & Development (Stages 1 & 2, Aug 2021- Nov 2022) – oral histories were taped and transcribed from interviews with participating QCWA members from the Far Northern & Atherton Tablelands Divisions including, how it was to grow up on a dairy farm without electricity and milk 60 cows a day by hand, or run a soup kitchen in Cooktown, or a First Nations CWA member teaching line dancing at Mossman, or disaster support provided in the aftermath of Cyclones Larry and Yasi, or the Mt Molloy CWA’s epic catering effort, feeding 400 people (in one day) involved in the Cardiac Challenge charity bike ride.
The project has engaged with CWA Halls and their members, north to Cooktown, west to Forsayth, and south to Silkwood, and the stories reflect resilience, strength, friendship and history. Photography of QCWA members, the Halls, and audio files complement the data that’s been collected. The collated material underwent a creative development (March 2022) with three actors, a director, the writer and projectionist, culminating in a presentation of outcomes to QCWA members, creatives and the public. It was an opportunity to showcase the work, gather feedback and ideas, and be excited to move the project forward.
Additional stories are being gathered in the second part of 2022 to enhance the existing verbatim theatrical pieces, gather more stories to fill any identified gaps, and improve the sound quality of audio files, to create a rehearsal-ready script. Halls in the region will also be scoped, as to which ones could best accommodate a tour of the show in late 2023.
Professional Production (Stage 3, Dec 2022 – May 2023) – working towards a professional production, the project aims to bring all three elements gathered during the research and development period together, that being audio, projection and acting into a full, main stage theatre production. After this production, the material can be used to tour the show, thereby extending the life of the work.
“This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.”