HAUNTING: Byron Bay High School is staging Children of the Black Skirt.
HAUNTING: Byron Bay High School is staging Children of the Black Skirt. Contributed

Haunting Australian journey

THE haunting Australian gothic fairytale Children of the Black Skirt by Angela Betzeins has been chosen Byron Bay High School's Year 11 drama class for the school's third annual theatre production.

Following on from the huge success of Byron High's 2018 production of Betzien's hard-hitting and powerful play War Crimes, the school has again chosen to showcase their students' talents through celebrating this versatile contemporary playwright and her ability to tell uniquely Australian stories with grit and empathy.

The play opens with references to the iconic Australian "lost bush child” and takes the audience on a historical journey as seen through the eyes of three children who stumble across an abandoned orphanage whilst exploring in the bush.

They begin examining the artefacts found in the dormitory, dressing up in clothes belonging to spirits of long ago and suddenly the audience is transported into the world of Australia's brutal past.

Through recreating the stories of the tormented children who haunt the walls and corridors of the orphanage, truths are spoken and spirits are finally put to rest.

"The play explores the vital and tragic stories of our country's most poorly treated children who were at the mercy of cruel government policies and harsh institutions,” drama teacher and director Simone Museth said.

"From 18th century England and convict times to World War II and the Stolen Generation, the stories of the orphanage's young restless spirits are told one by one, and we are transported through a frank and emotive historical journey that we hope will resonate with the audience long after leaving the theatre.

"The students have taken on both acting and technical roles and have been working tirelessly over the past three months to bring this important play to life.”

The play will showcase over three nights - Tuesday, June 25, Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28 at 7pm in the BBHS Performing Arts Centre. Tickets available by phoning 66858188.

Please note the play is PG. It contains supernatural themes and references to abuse, trauma, child labour and racial discrimination.