Ride boldly, lass, and never fear the spills – so said Banjo, yet I’ve been riding the fence, in limbo between the stable paddock and the Wild all my life, maybe its time to climb down from the fence and open the gate and fly.
My mother always said I would hold back on making milestones until I was really sure I could do it. As a baby I was timid to walk, late to say my first words, and she had to basically push me out of the car to my first audition at the age of fifteen. But she knew when I really wasn’t ready, and when I just needed a push – mothers know this, and she will always see me. And just as my history indicates, I am growing into myself, forging my own way in my own time, the outside and inside of me being stitched together by my self-made Destiny, and it’s time to climb down from the fence and open the gate.
A mother and her daughter, Bonnie and Belinda, the middle child of three beautiful daughters, and her beautiful, creative, fiercely protective Italian mother. The rich, vibrant, complex, expressive, naturally theatrical, joyous chaos of the Italian migrant family, the rich loam of Griffith plains transformed by the pre and post-war migrants, who brought their Mediterranean culture to our place, the food, the language, the music, the passion, oh wine, oh olives and vineyards, homemade salami, pasta, talking and talking with your hands, the love, the style. The animation. Could this be the source? Is this where it started?
Mumma worked at the Griffith Theatre, taking the girls to all the shows. Little Bonnie, shy, but drinking it all in. Drama at school. Thinking, thinking, thinking, and then voila! Pushed out of the car to her first audition and suddenly she’s in two shows in the blink of an eye – “Griffith; The Musical” with Griffith Regional Theatre (GRT) and as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” with Griffith Regional Association of Performing Arts (GRAPA). How it grew from there. Bonnie continued with GRAPA, mentored under John Bolger, nominated and winner of various theatre awards, studied at the ANU (History) 2014 – 2016 and then returned home to become President and chief director of GRAPA since 2019, especially popularising Shakespeare in the Park, with the annual “Shakespeare Under the Stars”- and running a Youth Theatre Troupe at GRT to connect young people with arts and theatre.
And Belinda, watching from the sidelines, helping with productions, making costumes, encouraging, supporting, nurturing, worrying. Seeing something take shape…
And then out of nowhere at the end of a long, long COVID year of heartache, along comes an opportunity. A bold production of Henry V. In Leeton. A promise of things to come. The team reaching out to Bonnie for her expertise as Associate Director, to support the Director as he took on the dual role of lead actor. A call out for auditions. Jake and Bonnie – sizing one another up. The professional actor and director and film-maker. The expert in community theatre. The perfect match of skills. Learning how to work together. Casting Bonnie. Casting Belinda. Casting them together – a mother and her daughter. Playing a princess and her confidante. Learning French. Learning each other. Learning to fly together.
And then – the master stroke. Ma would make Princess Katherine her royal gown. Just as she had done for Bonnie’s very first Shakespeare production – when she played Juliet – a pale blue gown with princess sleeves for the timid hopeful yearning girl who took the stage then. And now, another blue dress, a gown to befit the eventual Queen of France and England, not for the classic tragic romantic role of Juliet, but for a powerful heir to a throne in danger, a player on the dangerous stage of war and complex victory. This time, a mother carefully making the costume that will see her baby born anew, a costume that may alter her trajectory, away from her mother’s watchful eye. A princess. A woman. An actor. A director. Her wings unfurled. Oh darling, time to jump from the fence, open the gate, spread your wings and fly! Fly!
Ride boldly lassie, and never fear the spills
and Mumma watches, with tears in her eyes, fear and pride in her heart.
This show is full of stories, bright and bold, it is the magic that is Henry V.
Henry V, April 21-24 2021 Tickets @ roxyleeton.com.au