Lismore flood adapted into theatre production

The Flood Calcutta is one of six short plays to be performed over the coming weeks at the Rochdale Theatre, Goonellabah.
The Flood Calcutta is one of six short plays to be performed over the coming weeks at the Rochdale Theatre, Goonellabah. Contributed

IT took a Lismore playwright 24 hours to adapt the widespread devastation of the one-in-40 year North Coast flood into a powerful play.

John McPherson felt compelled to tell the story of the one-in-40 year flood that hit the region on stage after a trip to Auckland three weeks later revealed its residents were too reeling from damage inflicted by Cyclone Debbie's aftermath.

Fast-forward three months, The Flood Calcutta will take to the stage at the Rochdale Theatre on Friday.

It is one of six plays in the theatre production called The Voices of the District; a collection of plays that work together to provide an insight into the regional Australian experience.

The Flood Calcutta centres on a group of State Emergency Service volunteers who who head up to a golf club, which over looks The District, after the evacuation sirens sounded the levee would overtop.

From the club, the flood gauge could be seen with a telescope sparking an idea to start a flood Calcutta to bet on what time the levee would overtop to pass the time.

The evolution of the Lismore Helping Hands as well as monologues from flood-affected residents are also symbolically interwoven throughout the performance.

Mr McPherson said the play would reflect on the floods "in a fairly light fashion” to avoid inflicting further trauma among those impacted by the natural disaster.

"We don't see it as being a presentation that provokes in that sense,” he said.

Strength in community Mr McPherson said was the overall message embodied within the play, adding Lismore had always embraced the arts to reflect on events.

"I think this is part of what it is to be in Lismore, we reflect on things in a pretty immediate sense,” he said.

"All the volunteer services were astonishing the work that they did during that time.”

The show will stage at the Rochdale Theatre, Goonellebah on from Friday, July 21 until July 23 as well as from July 28 until July 30.

For times and ticket purchases, visit the Lismore Theatre Company website.

Topics:  lismore theatre company northern rivers community northern rivers flood

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