Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Playhouse and the Players

The Playhouse and the Players

If I had to describe Barraba Station over the past couple of days, I would say it is like a scene from Noel Coward’s Hay Fever played in a kibbutz.

For, yes. Each and every one of the nine us (Andrew, Haddon and seven visitors) has not been idle. You see, it was we – plus several locals -- who ended up as the hotel’s staff, as the theatre staff …

And very few of us had too much experience in that sort of thing. One musician-cum- composer, one fashionable Sydney shop-owner, one Australian actress warm from success on Broadway, one international prize-winning author (that’s me, in case you don’t recognise me), two teenaged ‘woofers’ from the Austrian Tirol currently doing their ‘work on organic farm’ at Barraba Station, and – thank goodness – one experienced restaurateur from Dijon, France via Noosa Heads. Plus of course our beloved Lord of the Manor and our daring entrepreneur. You recognise the ingredients for a three-act comedy of the ‘country-house weekend’ type?

Anyway, the inimitable Colette (‘Coco’) took the whole thing in her stride, and marshalled every force available to get the ‘restaurant’ created. Katie (Andrew’s big sister) took charge of upstairs, turning palpably never-used (and some not quite finished) rooms into habitable luxury accommodation. Locals Adele (chef), Ivy (sous-chef) and Bill (waiter) got ready to take on the actual cooking. And the rest of us wielded whatever was pushed into our hand, and wielded it with a will.
For me, it was a dustpan (builders never clean up adequately), an ironing machine (for table cloths, napkins and sheets), cutlery for sixty-five settings to clean and lay … not to mention a picturesque voyage from Barraba Station to the theatre on the back of Haddon’s truck, with items ‘loaned’ from the house to decorate the foyers. The picture opportunity had to be grabbed. That’s 20 year-old Benji from the Tirol alongside of me.

Well, we did it. By the time we crawled home at whatever hour it was in the early evening, the Playhouse and the hotel were ready to receive their performers and their public.

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