Ex-Charles Sturt University students bring theatre show to Western NSW high schools

MESSAGE: Rebekka Manns (front), Taylah Evans and Gabrielle Allen have a show about self image that they have been taking to rural high schools. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 060618ctoo
MESSAGE: Rebekka Manns (front), Taylah Evans and Gabrielle Allen have a show about self image that they have been taking to rural high schools. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 060618ctoo

THREE recent Charles Sturt University graduates are learning a whole lot as they tour a show through Western NSW. 

And they are teaching as well: the show, TOO, has a message about being comfortable in your own body for a generation exposed to an avalanche of images of unattainable perfection.

Rebekka Manns, from Cobar, Taylah Evans, from Grong Grong, east of Narrendera, and Gabrielle Allen from Bathurst finished up at Charles Sturt University last year. 

The trio all graduated with a Bachelor of Communications specialising in theatre/media and have since formed an amateur theatre group, TOO Productions.

The show was created as their major work in the third year of their degree and was performed at CSU’s Sprung Festival in September 2017. 

After applying for and receiving the Blair Milan Memorial Touring Scholarship, which provides financial support for the presentation of the work of final year Theatre/Media students in metropolitan and regional communities, they were able to take the show on the road.

The scholarship is selected by the academic staff of the theatre/media course, with input from the late Mr Milan’s peers and the Milan family. 

They have since taken TOO to high schools in Cobar, Bourke, Walgett and Nyngan in western NSW, where theatre performers don’t traditionally tread.

And the reaction?

“Extremely positive,” Ms Manns said.

The director of the show, and its sound engineer when it’s on the road, Ms Manns is able to surreptitiously see the audience’s reaction while Ms Evans, Ms Allen and the other performers are on stage at the schools.

“You can see the audience engaged,” she said.

The show uses the words of a diverse range of people collected in interviews during the development of the production.

“Every single word in the show is 100 per cent people's words,” Ms Evans said.

The trio say they have been excited by where the production has taken them so far and how it has affected those who have seen it.

“We have had teachers say that it's the best show that they have had at school,” Ms Allen said.