The Good Girl Song Project

Carly Ellis and Penny Larkins. Photograph by Bree Horwood.

Nature of Event: The Good Girl Song Project presents Voyage, a new Australian Musical written by Helen Begley and directed by Ruby Rees. It features actors, Penny Larkins and Carly Ellis, and musicians, Kylie Morrigan (Violin), Penelope Swales (Whistles) and Helen Begley (Guitars). In the midst of convict ships arriving each week from Britain, a different cargo leaves for Australia. On board are 287 single and free immigrant women enticed by promises of a better life. What waits for them at sea will determine their survival. What waits for them in Sydney will determine their success. Writer Helen Begley brings the worlds of contemporary theatre, Australian Folk Music and Academia together, with a script that emerged from the work of Australian historian Dr Liz Rushen. Her original songs trace their lineage back to the folk songs of early immigrants through the parlours and music halls of 19th Century Sydney to the stages of contemporary Australian folk festivals. The result is Musical Theatre in the Australian vernacular.

The women’s story is nationally significant, the execution, spare and essential. Two actors are required to portray thirteen characters. Three musicians are tasked with underscoring seventeen songs and ninety minutes of theatre.

Voyage is an alternative story of “Mateship.” Without sentimentality, it champions the kind of staunch female friendship that fosters resilience and endurance and maintains hope and humour in the face of hostility. Through this lens it asks audiences to reflect on their attitudes to women, migration, identity, colonisation and racism and questions whether the attitudes of the 19th Century are still mirrored in contemporary Australia.

The show recognises and acknowledges the devastation of colonisation on First Nations People, in particular, First Nations Women. Guidance and knowledge has been included from Aboriginal consultant and Wiradjuri woman, Nola Turner-Jensen.

Through multiple knowledge sharing experiences, Nola showed the team how to navigate this terrain and anchor the story in ancient and cultural truth. She contributes script edits that reflect Indigenous women’s grief and loss of culture, land and life as a result of colonisation. In the last 12 months Voyage has received funding from the City of Melbourne to develop the script with dramaturg Meta Cohen (queer composer and recent graduate of VCA’s dramaturgy MA). The development period conducted through the Melbourne Covid lockdown resulted in Voyage being chosen as one of six pieces that have been placed on the VCE Drama Playlist for 2021.

When and Where:

3rd & 4th May, Capital Theatre Bendigo

12th May, Potato Shed, Geelong

13th – 23rd May 45 Downstairs, Melbourne

Bookings: 45 Downstairs

More Information:

Socials: Facebook and Instagram: @thegoodgirlsongproject.