Women in uniform rocking out at the chicken factory! Part 70s inspired rock concert, part music theatre spectacle, this electrifying, fierce and funny new production by multi-talented sister duo, co-creators and performers, Josipa Draisma and Mara Knežević, is a celebration of Australia's female migrant history like you have never seen before.
It is about creating a new vision of a future … an entirely unpretentious theatrical exploration of a modern feminism… humourous… essential… true.
It’s 1976. Sherbet’s Howzat is No.1 on the Charts. Industries are booming, and it’s migrant women who are cashing in. Pavica, a young Croatian mother is dressed in her crisp white uniform, smiling proudly on the production line, elbows deep in chicken carcasses, loving her job and her new Australian life.
Mila, however, does NOT love her job. In fact, she despises it. The screaming chooks, screeching machines, not to mention the tenosynovitis that plagues the production line. For her, this factory is a hell house. Mila is hellbent on taking this chicken business, and ripping it to bits.
Pavica and Mila are best friends. They need each other to survive this strange feathery world of work. But it might also be the very thing that completely drives them apart.
Weaving together extraordinary, humorous, and tragic multi-lingual stories of female migrant factory workers from Western Sydney with distinctly live and loud original music played by an electrifying all-female rock band, The Hen House elevates diverse women’s voices as powerful and hugely significant to Australia’s social and economic history.
Created and performed by dynamic sister-duo Josipa Draisma (Founder/Creative Director, In Wild Company) and Mara Knezevic (Playlist, PYT Fairfield), with director Anthea Williams (Hir, Sydney Theatre Awards Best Director), The Hen House is a fierce and funny migrant story that pays homage to the stories of European migration in the 60s and 70s and explores the dignity and comedy of the female working-class experience.
If I had to summarise this work in one sentence it would probably be: women in uniform rocking out at the Chicken Factory. The inspiration for this show came from our grandmother Bernarda Papić. Bernada arrived in Australia in 1967 and landed a job at Ingham’s Chicken factory in Casula in her first week. Like many others, she came to Australia seeking a better life for her family. She went on to work at Ingham’s for nearly 40 years.
- Mara Knežević
“This job is cursed. I cut this chicken, and chicken cuts me back!”
PYT Fairfield has a reputation as a brave and transformative company who make urgent work that explores the critical issues of our times. We challenge the conventions of traditional theatre by creating innovative performance and social artistic experiences in theatre spaces and across diverse urban sites of Fairfield, Western Sydney and beyond, and with a key focus on cultural diversity. PYT has presented work across Australia including at the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Festival, Arts House Melbourne, Adelaide Festival Centre and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
Josipa Draisma is an award-winning interdisciplinary performing artist and cultural leader working across theatre, music, cabaret, and comedy. Her original work has been programmed across national comedy and arts festivals in Australia including Sydney Comedy Festival, Melbourne Comedy Festival, Melbourne Cabaret Festival and Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Mara Knežević is a theatre-maker, performer, and singer-songwriter. She co-creates music under MARA DUKE and has released music on major platforms since 2015. She is an ongoing member of the female/non-binary collective All Girl Electronic based in Parramatta. Her credits include the Helpmann Award nominated dancetheatre work PLAYLIST (dir. Karen Therese, PYT Fairfield, 2017).
Anthea Williams is an award-winning theatre and film director and a Churchill Fellow. Anthea develops both theatre and screenplays and has worked in development at Causeway Films, Screen Australia, Belvoir, and London’s Bush Theatre. Anthea was awarded Best Director of a Mainstage Production at the Sydney theatre Awards 2017 for Hir. This production won several other awards including Best Mainstage Production.
"If I had to summarise this work in one sentence it would probably be: women in uniform rocking out at the Chicken Factory. The inspiration for this show came from our grandmother Bernarda Papić. Bernada arrived in Australia in 1967 and landed a job at Ingham’s Chicken factory in Casula in her first week. Like many others, she came to Australia seeking a better life for her family. She went on to work at Ingham’s for nearly 40 years."
- Mara Knežević (Co-Creator and Performer)
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If you are interested in touring get in contact!
Arts on Tour
02 8038 1880
Arts on Tour is based in Redfern NSW and we respectfully acknowledge the Gadigal people as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the unceded land on which we work.
As we tour artists and productions across these vast lands, we pay our respect to all First Nations Elders, past, present and future.
We celebrate their continuing connection and contribution to culture, country and community, and thank all First Nations peoples for their wisdom in caring for the land, the sky, the rivers and the sea.