Parramatta Female Factory women will never be Forgotten!

25 July 2019
Forgotten, presented by CAPTIVATE, is being shown at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. Image: Mim Maree Photography.


The original Australian play Forgotten premieres at Riverside Theatres this week, telling the story of the young women who faced adversity and systematic oppression in the Parramatta Female Factory during the 19th century. This haunting production features students from CAPTIVATE, the creative and performing arts program of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.

Written by Cate Whittaker, Forgotten takes you to the core of the convict uprising at the Parramatta Female Factory in 1827.

“British Historians had chosen to ignore it, because it was women, it was convicts, it was Catholics. Deportation was the cruelest, most callous of all penal systems, because it robbed women of their children, their partners, parents, siblings and friends,’’ Ms Whittaker said.

“What is astonishing, however, is their astounding resilience, their indefatigable courage and determination. Without them the colony would have collapsed, unable to reproduce itself. Now we can proudly recognise one in seven Australians descend from them.

“I have been totally moved by this production of my play and it is evident by the students’ performance, they have put their heart and soul in it. Part of preparing the actors for their roles, saw them taken to the Parramatta Female Factory site where they showed their respect for the women and laid flowers in their memory.’’

Forgotten features a cast of 16, which includes Catherine McAuley Westmead teacher Elizabeth Lowrencev and her son Jeremy, CAPTIVATE alumni and current students. It was directed and produced by the CAPTIVATE drama team: Lucinda Armour, Natasha Beaumont and Tim Martin.

Behind the scenes it features teachers from Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta and students from the Australian Catholic University.

Head of CAPTIVATE, Mark Hopkins said the cast of Forgotten embodies many aspects of the legacy of our forebears. “Most are the same age as the characters they portray, yet today are young women and men enrolled in Catholic schools throughout Western Sydney. While much progress has been made in Australian society for women since 1827, significant collective energy and individual bravery is still required to address persisting social, political and legal gender power imbalances.’’

A big supporter of the play’s world premiere was Parramatta Female Factory Friends, who provided important research information about each and every woman featured in the play.

Parramatta Female Factory Friends president Gay Hendriksen said the performance of the play was wonderful and she did not expect to get so emotional from watching it. “I think they (CAPTIVATE) did a wonderful job. I think all the young women and men who have been involved with this play have now got that same sense that we have about how important it is to tell this part of our history, Good on Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta for support of our story, or as we say at Parramatta Female Factory Friends: history, her story and our story!”

Forgotten is currently being shown at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta from Wednesday, July 24 until Saturday, July 27.

With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.

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