In a solitary cell, on the edge of survival, a ‘sleek little savage’ waits alone in the darkness. Left for dead, ten thousand miles from home she plots escape and reveals, with biting mockery, the untold tales of her captors. Cascades Female Factory was a place of hard labour, overcrowding and shockingly high rates of infant mortality. The factory was first port of call for around 5,000 of the 25,000 female prisoners sent to Australia before their placement into ‘service’ with the colony’s free settlers.
In a performance described as ‘fearless’ and ‘nauseatingly exquisite’, Emily Goddard and acclaimed theatre director Susie Dee bring to life This Is Eden, a dark, humorous and provocative ‘anti-bonnet drama’ inspired by the rebellion and resistance of the female convicts of Van Diemen’s Land.
The plight of these displaced women, who for the rest of their lives bore the shame of their ‘stain’ in a society strictly divided into free and convict classes, resonated with Goddard who found strong parallels with modern Australia’s hardened attitude to asylum seekers. With one in seven Australians having convict ancestry, has the oppressed become oppressor?
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