‘Echo’ gives girls a pathway to professional theatre

Jordan Best. Photo by Shelly Higgs

FERVENT declarations of devotion to theatre were to the fore today as The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, as it announced the formation of a new theatre company, Echo, with Canberra actor Jordan Best appointed as its artistic director.

Strong on emotion and short on detail, the launch today (October 16) included a short video on the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council’s recognition that the artistic talent in this region needed a professional pathway locally.

The Q’s program manager, Stephen Pike, and the council’s portfolio general manager, Jacquelyn Richards, took to the podium to predict that Echo would provide a rich creative environment that would shine a spotlight on female playwrights and promote the wealth of established and developing talent which they perceived in the cultural landscape.

Best, whose company Pigeonhole Theatre (which began at The Q) has been drawing accolades this year for its production of “Switzerland“ in the Canberra Theatre’s 2018 season, explained to those present that the name “Echo” had been taken from the tragic nymph of Greek mythology, but that in this case, the girls would be given a voice.

Echo’s first production, to appear at The Q in August next year, will be “Belfast Girls” by Jaki McCarrick. The playwright appeared on video to wish the company well with the show, which follows the trajectory of impoverished Northern Irish girls “exported” to 19th Century Australia to become servants, many in Yass and Gundagai. Actor Natasha Vickery appeared to perform an extract from the play live.

Best told those present, including QPRC Mayor Tom Overall and assembled theatre media, of her dedication to this region and described the new venture as, “an exciting opportunity”.

Richards, when questioned by “CityNews“ said that actors would be paid and that money previously used to buy professional productions would be redirected to create original local content, at no extra financial cost to council.

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