Yellow Line Theatre Productions is hard at work preparing for the premiere of their new Australian written musical Bakery Hill – An Australian Rebellion. With the musical not far away, the production team have begun a a fundraising campaign via Indiegogo in hopes that an educational tour of the show can be possible as well as being able to have the show’s soundtrack professionally recorded. Writers of the new original work, James and Russell Tredinnick, sat down to talk what inspired them to write an original Australian musical, and how they’re preparing for its debut.
What has been the most rewarding experience writing an original work?
James: It’s the fact that it starts as nothing; it starts as an idea in a head, and then it’s a blank piece of paper, and then it’s some words on a piece of paper, and somewhere along the line other people become as passionate about it as you are, and it just snowballs.
Russell: And it’s a chance to tell stories that haven’t been told before, and particularly stories about people that we haven’t heard of before. I talk about this all the time, the “story of the little guy”, it’s fantastic, it’s a chance to turn history on its head a little bit. Also, if you take a show off a shelf then people feel as though they have to do it the same way it’s always been done in New York or London or anywhere else, you know. Whereas [with something original] people can take a bit more ownership over the character. Maybe that’s the most exciting thing.
James: And Australians can tell stories, our stories, that are interesting and important, we don’t need to be importing them. We have our own stories to tell, and we can tell them in our own way.
Russell: It would be nice for Australians to give Australians a chance. We’ve always said that we want to showcase Australian talent as part of this process.
What enticed you both to take on the story of the Eureka Stockade? Why this topic?
Russell: [James] and I talked about it a long time ago. I taught it as a classroom teacher. It captured me right from the start, the Eureka story, because I think it’s just got the narrative elements, you know. It’s not just dates, and it’s not just names. It’s as close to civil war as we’ve ever come. That’s why it stood out to me. A lot of history is pretty dull, and pretty white, and pretty male dominated, and that’s why this story was great.
James: When we were talking about writing a show, [Dad] threw the phrase “The Eureka Stockade” at me, and as [far as I can tell] that was the first time that I’d heard about the Eureka Stockade. So, I picked up Peter Fitzsimon’s book “Eureka”, and I read it, and like [Dad] said, it just grabbed me. It wasn’t dates and events, it was people. It was just a bunch of dirty men and women who had had enough, and they stuck their pitchforks in the air and said “we’re not going to take it”.
What challenges did you face creating an historical adaptation?
James: As a writer, coming into something like this, you want to respect the story, you want to do it as much justice as you can, and it’s a fine line; telling any non-fiction story on stage, you will have to take artistic licence every now and then. My whole credo throughout this process was that [Bakery Hill] is “fiction framed by fact”. So, yes, we’re telling a real story, but we’re doing it our way. There’s some things you just cannot do on stage. But at the same time, you want to make sure you’re doing the story justice, in a way that’s going to be entertaining for an audience, but is also going to depict the events the way they actually happened. It’s a really thin tightrope to walk.
Russell: It’s that balance, isn’t it? You want to respect what’s written down in the history books, and there’s also a whole lot of gaps that we have to fill in. That’s a challenge, but that’s also some of the exciting stuff, I reckon. And also, giving an 1854 story a 2021 flavour. I think that, in many ways, is the greatest challenge; in terms of turning white male history into relevant and appropriate 2021 storytelling. I think that’s really important and challenging in so many ways.
Many Australians are already familiar with the history of the Eureka Stockade, what new interpretations do you hope audiences take away from this original work?
Russell: [James] said it right from the start: it’s important that we look at these people as real people. None of us is all good, and none of us is all bad, and it’s nice that all of the characters reflect that. I think that’s really cool.
James: I really wanted to blur those lines. I also want to touch on the women of the time, and how important and necessary their contributions were, and just how difficult it is to find [their stories]. When you dig down into the nitty-gritty (and I have to credit Clare Wright for her fantastic book “Forgotten Rebels”), they were there, and they were no less important or relevant than the men were. I spoke to a lot of women about how best to represent the female perspective. It’s the unknown stories that are at the forefront of “Bakery Hill”. And they will continue to be.
TICKETS ON SALE NOW
Bakery Hill – An Australian Rebellion by Yellow Line Productions
Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown, NSW
Limited Season Only
April 15 // 7:30pm
April 16 // 2:00pm & 7:30pm
April 17 // 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Adults // $45pp
Concession // $35pp
10+ Group // $40pp
BUY TICKETS HERE
Patrons can support Yellow Line Theatre by donating to their Indiegogo campaign here.