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On the list…and the road!

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The Weather and Your HealthBack in December I was thrilled to hear that my first play, The Weather and Your Health had been selected for the 2012 VCE Drama Playlist.

As I owe the delightful stories in the play to my gorgeous grandmother, I called straight away to share the good news.

Her response: “That’s wonderful! I’m so proud of you! Now…what does that mean?”

Nan wasn’t the only one. Many people have since congratulated me and asked what it means for me as a writer, performer and independent producer. I’ll be honest, it was all new to me as well!

First thing’s first. Being selected for the 2012 VCE Drama Playlist means that The Weather and Your Health is one of only six Australian plays on the list for Victorian drama students to study this year. Classes are to attend a live performance of one of the plays on the list, discuss it in the context of their unit of study, and make reference to it and in their final exams. (“Nan – it means that kids will, more or less, be writing essays about you!” Op!)

As a writer, being selected for the Playlist is a huge deal. It helps get my name out there and is a great thing to add to Weather’s list of achievements.

As a performer, it’s incredibly exciting. When we tour Victoria again from March – May as part of our national tour, we’ll have school groups in the audience and will be conducting post-show Q&A forums. So, I’m mentally preparing for questions as varied as ‘What’s your favourite bit?’ to, ‘Can you explain your use of transformational prop and character change in the context of non-naturalism?’

Following the excitement of the VCE announcement, it occurred to me that I wanted as many students as possible to see The Weather and Your Health. There were already a number of Victorian venues on our 2012 national tour itinerary, but the coverage wasn’t as extensive as the 2011 regional tour we had just completed. I made contact with a number of presenters across the state, and managed to secure a few additional performances, including a two-week return season at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne this May.

Off The Beaten Track - Bethany Simons

Off The Beaten Track - Bethany Simons and her touring cast in The Weather and Your Health

I have since been working on expanding the national tour itinerary to include more regional Victorian locations, as schools across the state will be looking to attend a production of Weather.

I grew up in a town that didn’t have ready access to professional theatre, which is why I am passionate about taking my work to the regions. Teachers in regional areas are somewhat disadvantaged in that they often have no choice but to travel for hours to metropolitan venues or regional centres to view the plays on the VCE list. The Weather and Your Health is built to tour. It’s compact and adaptable. So, why not take the show on the road…and off the beaten track?

It’s a lovely idea. But, every good idea comes at a cost. This is a risky project for what is essentially a one-man band! (Have you seen the billing? Written by, produced by, presented by, performed by…it’s embarrassing!) I do have an incredible team working around me and a brilliant support and advice network….but I am now in a position where I need to expand that network even further.

Last week a funding campaign for the national tour of The Weather and Your Health was launched through the Australian crowdfunding site, Pozible, stating a $4k target, which must be reached within a certain timeline. Crowd funding is a brilliant concept. It allows people, no matter their means, to play a part in getting a project off the ground. In this case, if you pledge $5 or more, you will be directly responsible for taking Australian theatre to the regions.

This whole tour requires an element of faith. Perhaps I’m crazy to take it all on…but once we get out on the road, I know that all the hard work is going to be more than worth it!

At the end of the day, I’m a performer who wants to share stories with people. I am interested in building community and taking theatre to those who deserve it, but often go without.

The countdown is well and truly on for the 2012 national tour of The Weather and Your Health. I’ll be sharing news and stories with Aussie Theatre readers when we hit the road in March.  Keep checking in. It’s bound to be a hoot!

If you would like to partner with Bethany on this exciting journey, check out the link and make a pledge! (Get on board the ‘Weather’ train before 1 March and have your name listed in the 2012 National Tour Program! Plus, there are plenty of other goodies and rewards to choose from! Visit tinyurl.com/weatheronpozible for more info.)

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Bethany has written 43 articles on AussieTheatre
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