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Fi Peel, Bathurst Storyteller/Producer

"As the cast drifted back out of the theatre and the stage lights went down, I stood in the empty space, amidst socially distanced statically set chairs and my eyes wandered all over the room. I was astounded at where we had all come from and the moment we were about to share with each other and the community."

When Tim asked me to become the Producer for what would become This Is My Brave Australia’s sixth show, Bathurst was still in lockdown. I will not lie, I was disappointed. I had only just arrived in my new regional home and the start of the year and had made a deliberated decision to get out into the community as much as I could. I wanted to break the cycles that had held me captive for so long, so I had found myself volunteering, joining choirs, returning to voice lessons for the first time in 20 years and even considered auditioning for local theatre productions.

As the world began to shut down and I watched people in my social media

feed become increasingly confused, angry and even fearful I reassured

myself that this was not going to be a forever thing. That we would come

out the other side. Much like living through a severe bout of depression but on a societal level. I

busied myself in other projects but admittedly spent many days in bed, reading, writing, researching

and watching way too much Netflix. In the weeks prior to lockdown, I had auditioned for a local

musical that the director was forced to hibernate two days before the first full cast read-through of

the script and the TIMBA show in Hurstville that I had put my hand up to audition for was also

paused.

I wondered whether TIMBA would consider collaborating in some kind of digital space. It was late

April and there was no sign of restrictions easing. I decided to record the audition piece that I had

intended for the TIMBA show and sent it off to Tim. I was embarrassed at the quality of both the

video and my performance but the lesson I had learned as a teenager in performance skills echoed

in the back of my mind. Bring your best and let the audience do the rest. I hit the send button on the

email and shortly thereafter found myself in a Zoom meeting with Tim. We discussed my ideas and

we both quickly realised that the concept that I had in my head was not quite right for a TIMBA

format. Tim’s next two questions though set me completely off kilter. Why not Bathurst? Will you be

my local producer?

I was completely gobsmacked as two juxtaposed thoughts smashed into my mind. The first: I am

nothing. Why me? The second ricocheted off the first: I can do this. I know I can do this. I hesitated

for just a second while I determined which thought to hold in my head and then heard myself saying

yes. I had not been in a full-scale production for 14 years. I had not been in a backstage or walk-on

support role for more than 6. I had never produced anything and my one time as an assistant