In Boomi, NSW, local theatre brings the community together and funds community projects.
Story + Photos Ricky French
More than 200 kilometres from the nearest coast, in the middle of the flat, dry Moree Plains, a cruise ship is about to set to sail. On board are a deranged captain, a motley crew of selfie-obsessed celebrities and a colourful bunch of locals. About 180 people from all over the shire and as far away as Brisbane and Sydney have piled into Boomi Memorial Hall to watch Boomi Amateur Thespian Society (BATS) perform opening night of an original play, a musical comedy called Just Cruisin’. Producer and actor Melissa Carrigan is putting the final touches on the stage. Caterers arrive to prepare a sit-down meal for the audience and actors take their turn at the make-up chair, then don costumes for the first act. There’s something missing though.
Tonight, for the first time in BATS’ 21-year history, the dance floor won’t see any renditions of the ‘Dotty shuffle’. This highly logistical dance consisted of long-time Boomi resident Dorothy Marquart shuffling seating positions at tables to accommodate last-minute punters desperate to secure a seat. Dotty was one of the founding members of BATS, back in 1991. That inaugural year is now known as ‘Day Dot’. Dotty, 77, died just as preparations were getting underway for this latest show, and her absence is being felt keenly by the entire cast.
For some, tonight is their first time on stage. Others, such as Bruce Carrigan, have been with BATS since Day Dot. “BATS brings the whole community together, and it’s a lot of fun,” he says. “I play a farmer who gets bitten by a red-back spider in a delicate place while on the thunderbox. Unfortunately, it’s based on a true story.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #122
Outback Magazine: December/January 2019