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A DAISY OF A SHOW

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Zoe James , Liana Skewe in the Ballarat National Theatre’s production of Daisy.

THE Ballarat National Theatre’s production of Daisy Pulls It Off by English playwright and novelist Denise Deegan is set in 1927 and is about an intelligent and multi talented Welsh fatherless student, Sally, who takes up an inaugural student scholarship to an exclusive Grangewood Boarding School for girls. The setting calls for a cast of fourteen of which twelve are female. The play is a wonderful opportunity for the Ballarat National Theatre to showcase its pool of experienced and highly talented female actors as well as enabling some new actors to try out their talent. The production is directed by Dr Mary-Rose McLaren a senior lecturer in Education with the College of Arts and Education Victoria University and is ably supported by Production Manager Alexandra Meerbach.

The play was initially performed at the Nuttfield Theatre Southampton and was picked up by Andrew Lloyd Webber who produced it on the West End, London for more than 1,800 performances. The doyen of girls’ private boarding schools novels from the turn of the 20th Century to the Second World War was Angela Brazil and it is in this genre and style that Denise Deegan models in Daisy Pulls It Off. Like Angela Brazil novels, Deegan’s play sets out to entertain people, not to be overtly moralistic and to present her characters as ordinary people. Daisy’s transition from local elementary schooling into the exclusive and elite private boarding school environment does not go smoothly, made difficult by some students who resent the incursion of a girl, from what they regard as a dubious background, who set about discrediting her to achieve her expulsion. Do they succeed or does Daisy overcome all, win acceptance by becoming one of them or unbeknown has been one of them all along? The characterisations of the students in Daisy Pulls It Offallow for considerable leewayfor the predominantly female cast to ham up their characters adding considerable humour and fun to what is referred to as an already witty script. The cast has years of thecases. However for some people the fact that they collect a lot of things can cause them a range of other problems that can have a devastating effect on their daily lives and the atrical experience behind them and this play offers the opportunity for them to come together collegiately, on stage, for the first time. If rehearsals are an indication they certainly have grasped this opportunity. This is essentially a play about females, written by a female, directed by a female and performed predominantly by females. The two male cast are more than token males and while they are not physically to the fore in the play they are central characters to the plot.

The season opens to a Gala night on Saturday 30 September at 8pm and ends at a matinee on Saturday 7 October at 2pm at the Court House Theatre, Federation University , SMB Campus, Lydiard Street South,Ballarat. Visit www. bnt.org.au for full details. Bookings: Her Majesty’s Theatre Booking Office business hours, or Majestix http://hermaj.com/whatson/ballarat-national-theatreseason.