COVID-19 shutdowns have devastated Australia’s arts industry, with the small to medium sector one of the hardest hit. We at New Ghosts have experienced this firsthand, with five productions cancelled in the last 18 months. Our latest production, Hush by playwright Ciella Williams, was four weeks into rehearsal when the team was forced to call it quits amidst August’s escalating case numbers and restrictions. Our Darwin touring season, scheduled to open this month, was postponed a few weeks later.
“Cancelling the show was not an option for us”, says Artistic Director Lucy Clements. “It is the debut production of an incredible, regionally based playwright. Our team have been working on it since 2019. We have collaborators who had crossed Australia to make it possible. The idea of booking them flights home without ever getting into a theatre was unthinkable”.
Now Create NSW’s Development Grant program, created in response to the latest lockdowns, have offered us an opportunity to keep our show alive while theatres remain closed. In association with Australian Theatre Live, New Ghosts will present a livestreamed reading of Hush. Accessible to viewers nationwide, the event aims to reignite the project for its creatives and audiences alike, ensuring the work remains active and invigorated whilst eagerly awaiting a postponed 2022 season.
“This is the second time we have had to postpone this particular production due to COVID-19. Our creatives invest so much into these new Australian works, and we have seen this stop-start process take huge tolls on the artists and art alike. We are so grateful to Create NSW and ATLive for helping us not let that happen to Hush”, says Clements.
Hush is a new Australian work developed by our IGNITE Collective – a female-led, inclusive collective of theatre makers dedicated to the creation of new content by women, for women. Hush is a bold and innovative play in form and content: a magic-realist exploration of five young women’s experiences of birth and pregnancy, presenting honest and uncomfortable perspectives rarely seen on stage.
The play follows Nina, who lies in a pool of her own amniotic fluid in Darwin hospital, alone and paralysed by indecision. Slowly losing her grip on reality, she is visited by her best friend who dreams of a different life for her, and an apparition of her mother as a young woman who will do anything to be forgiven. It is the highly anticipated first full-length play by Darwin sensation, Ciella Williams. Conceived just days after giving birth to her own daughter, Hush cuts through the cultural narratives about motherhood – instead diving into the real fears and harsh realities of young women faced with this transformation.
The livestreamed reading will take place via New Ghosts Theatre Company and Australian Theatre Live’s Facebook page at 7pm AEST on Thursday 21st October. The event will be ‘pay what you can’, with a link to donate available as part of the stream. All funds raised will go towards the 2022 Hush season at Flight Path Theatre.
RSVP to the event here. Those not on Facebook can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for access to alternative viewing platforms.