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Country first in exploration of growing up in rural Australia

It’s usual for regional theatre practitioners – playwrights, directors and actors – to head to the city to hone their craft, but it’s been a case of the playwright, mentor and director hitting the road to the west for the Outback Theatre for Young People’s (OTYP) latest production, Beneath an Oxbow Lake.

The play will premiere at the Griffith Regional Theatre 7.30pm, Wednesday, 24 June, with a further performance at 11am, Thursday, 25 June then tour to Deniliquin, 7pm on 2 and 3 July and Sydney’s Walsh Bay for a season at the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) from 8-11 July.

Since 1989, OTYP based in Deniliquin, has engaged with young people from regional and remote communities to make distinctive contemporary theatre through collaborative processes including with Sydney based theatre companies.

A year ago playwright, Julian Lanarch, won the OTYP EMERGE: Riverina Playwright Commission to develop his play with mentor Jessica Bellamy (ATYP, Tamarama Rock Surfers, Griffin Theatre). Beneath an Oxbow Lake  revolves around two local families, and investigates the impacts of the decision of parents have on the next generation as well as the impact an individual’s choices have on their future.

In 2014 Julian completed a writers attachment with Melbourne Theatre Company, a dramaturgy internship at Belvoir and travelled to Europe on an Australia Council ArtStart grant. He is currently Writer in Residence at ATYP.

‘I hope that through the combination of my own personal experiences of rural New South Wales, my extensive research of the area, and my consultation with young people, I am able to tell a story that will resonate with the people who live here,’ he said.

During the play’s development Jules and Jessica spent time at Hothouse Theatre’s Month in the Country house just outside Albury. They also workshopped the play with members of Hothouse Theatre’s Youth Ensemble.

Jessica said working with the group of 16-26 year olds provided Julian and her with incredible detail, subtleties, stories and hilarious moments, all of which contributed to the relevance and authenticity of Julian’s final draft.

Beneath an Oxbow Lake director, Paige Rattray is the current Richard Wherrett Directorial Fellow at Sydney Theatre Company and has a long history of working with new Australian writing.

OTYP’s Creative Producer, Sarah Parson said the company was thrilled to be sharing this story from Griffith with the wider communities of NSW and taking the play to Sydney.

‘We have cast the production with young people from the Riverina, because we want to make sure local people have ownership over Julian’s story because it is there story too,’ Sarah said.

‘A regional playwright sharing a regional story, told by young regional actors isn’t something you get a chance to see every day, so that is definitely something to be celebrated,’ she said.

Performance dates:

7pm Wednesday 24 June, 11am Thursday 25 June, Griffith Regional Theatre. Book here

7pm, 2 and 3 July, Deniliquin Club Book Deniliquin Newsagency (03) 5881 2080

8-11 July, ATYP, Walsh Bay, Sydney. Book here

The OYTP EMERGE: Riverina Playwright Commission is supported by: