How Blaxland and Daughter began….
Wendy Blaxland and Jessica Blaxland Ashby launched a family theatre production company, Blaxland and Daughter, in 2012. Wendy and Jess have worked together since 1998 at Marian Street Theatre for Young People (MSTYP) where Wendy is a playwright and member of the Board, and Jess took on stage, backstage and front of house roles before becoming Business Manager in 2015. Wendy is a prize-winning writer who taught drama at the University of New England and worked with her mother Audrey Blaxland, founder of MSTYP, the longest continually running children’s theatre in Australia. Jess gained her BA at Macquarie in Performance Studies and then her MA from the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. She has a special interest in puppetry and also works at the Sydney Opera House.
Blaxland and Daughter produced Wendy’s play CROSSING for the Bicentenary commemorations of the crossings of the Blue Mountains, which traced crossings from Aboriginal times through the well-known expedition of Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson in 1813, through the building of the first road led by William Cox, to the founding of Bathurst which led to the opening up of inland Australia, and to the riches gained from agriculture and gold-mining. Between 2013 and 2016 over 17,000 people saw CROSSING, mainly school students, in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, as far west as Orange and Dubbo and north to Walcha. It also held family performances in theatres and historic houses, including Gregory Blaxland’s restored home at Brush Farm House in Eastwood. Gregory is one of their forebears.
In 2015 Wendy wrote a one-woman play Pioneers in Petticoats which Jess directed, to bring alive some important but neglected women who helped shape Australia’s early history, from convict escapee Mary Bryant, through unsung scientist Fanny Macleay and child pioneer Eliza Hawkins to feisty goldfields performer Lola Montez. Coincidentally, their actress, the talented Brigid O’Sullivan, also attended Abbotsleigh.
The company has developed a signature style which includes songs, humour and well-researched, exciting or moving stories with an energetic, fast-paced approach. Small casts play a number of characters to bring history alive and validate different points of views so the audience can see how the past and present echo and reverberate.
In 2016 Blaxland and Daughter is touring no fewer than four shows to schools in NSW and Canberra, from Pioneers in Petticoats and its sister show Matilda Fish and the Bushranger, to GOLD and a lively two-person version of Alice in Wonderland. Families can see Pioneers in Petticoats during a Historic Houses tour in Sydney, Bathurst and the Central Coast. See videos of the shows at the Youtube Blaxland and Daughter Channel. More information is available on the website and you can book shows here: https://www.trybooking.com/Event/EventListingURL.aspx?aid=36929, or by calling Ticketek on 13 28 49.