What drives a young woman to set herself alight on New Year’s Eve in Byron Bay? Is this an act of terrorism? Is this fantasy or fact?
Wonderbabes is a powerful and thrilling live storytelling performance by Kate McDowell that exposes the traumas of our young sexual and political lives. Set in Byron Bay on New Year’s Eve Wonderbabes is the epic story of one young woman’s journey through the night.
“Wonderbabes is about a young woman who’s testing her limits. She’s angry and frustrated with her mother, the world, and pretty much everyone. She wants to cause trouble, get into danger, and feel something intense in order to get to know herself better. This is a hero’s journey,” said writer and performer Kate McDowell.
Kate McDowell grew up in Lismore, holds a NIDA Postgraduate Diploma in Writing for Performance and is trained in dance, puppetry, and performance. After many years working in the arts all over Australia and the world, she returned to the Northern Rivers to establish herself as an independent artist. She is an Associate Artist at NORPA, Dramaturgy Mentor to Sprung!! Integrated Dance Theatre and a member of local dance flash-mob group The Cassettes. Wonderbabes developed from her experience of growing up in the Northern Rivers although the themes are universal.
“I wrote this play when I was 26 as a way of exploring the complexity of what I was feeling as a young woman – I wanted to feel powerful and in control and to understand this incredible rage burning inside me. But I also wanted safety, admiration, love, and respect. It’s a lot for young people to navigate and this is my ode to that time of my life when I was willing to try anything to feel the full force of my power and to beat the sensation that everyone wanted me to just shut up and smile”.
“This is about anyone who rails against being told to behave in a certain way based on social expectations or when they are being silenced for their age, class, race, gender or even for what they wear! For me, I felt rage and confusion about my femaleness.”
An extraordinary piece of storytelling Wonderbabes is both visceral and poetic, moving between brutal reality and a lyrical otherworldliness. Told over 2 hours McDowell’s performance is superbly underpinned by an original electronic score that is mixed live on stage by composer James Brown. Presented by NORPA and The Quad, Wonderbabes will be performed in a large-scale tent in Lismore’s new outdoor precinct complete with open fires and an outdoor bar.
Wonderbabes will be presented in The Quad, a new outdoor cultural precinct in the centre of Lismore, located between the newly developed Lismore Regional Gallery and the Conservatorium of Music. The partnership between The Quad and NORPA taps into NORPA’s strong track record of staging theatre in unique site-specific spaces (eg: Railway Wonderland, Dreamland, The HOME Project) while also adding to the animation of the cultural life of Lismore and supporting emerging local artists through NORPA’s Associate Artist program.
“We wanted to create an immersive music festival experience for the performance of Wonderbabes,” said Producer Marisa Snow “The Northern Rivers is an epicentre of music festival culture where a lot of young people have formative experiences. Wonderbabes is an opportunity to see an incredibly powerful theatrical performance presented like a kick-arse music gig.’ The Quad is the perfect site to present this work and play with the work’s experimental form in an open-air environment.’
Wonderbabes is a featured satellite event in Byron Writers Festival’s 2018 Program.
The Quad has been brought to life thanks to a partnership between Southern Cross University and Lismore City Council.
Wonderbabes was developed with the support of NORPA.
Below are some support services for those affected by the themes in this production:
Lifeline 131144 | Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 | 1800Respect.org.au 1800 737 732
Written and performed by Kate McDowell Director – Elsie Edgerton-Till Co-Production Designer – Charles Davis
Co-Production Designer – Hugh O’Connor Composer – James Brown Producer – Marisa Snow
Lighting Designer – Richard Morrod
NORPA and The Quad present the world premiere of Wonderbabes By Kate McDowell
Thursday 2 – Saturday 4 August, 7 pm The Quad, 110 Magellan Street, Lismore
Tickets: Adult $30 Conc /student $25
Bookings: 1300 066 772 norpa.org.au Patron advice: Wonderbabes contains strong coarse language and adult themes including references to suicide, sexual assault, and substance abuse. Recommended for a mature audience, ages 15+.