A dark, intense and sad drama will tour central Victoria over the next month.
Presented by bizarre performers The Laudanum Project, The Baby Farmer is a confronting work that has taken 18 months to put together.
As well as a performances, it has also spawned an exhibition and graphic novel designed by Bendigo artist Chloe Neath.
Laudanum Project writer and performer Nick Ravenswood said it took Neath about 500 hours to create the illustrations used in the book and exhibition.
“Chloe read the script and liked it. She got to work on illustrations and artwork for a book and accompanying exhibition,” he said.
“It was a massive undertaking and the end product speaks for itself.
“While that happening, we were working on the show.”
Ravenswood said he and fellow performer Gareth Skinner had put the show together.
“I was leaping between live performances and meeting with Chloe to get the book out,” Ravenswood said.
The show opened at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and had a great run despite a title that puts punters on the back foot.
“The reaction was great. We had lots of good reviews and people coming to see show. The Bakehouse Theatre where launched asked for us return next year,” Ravenswood said.
“The title is a very old term that dates back to Victorian times. It was fairly grim.”
Ravenswood’s play centres on a young woman Agatha May and her mentally-disturbed mother Winifred in East London in 1879.
To make ends meet Winifred turns to baby farming – caring for other women’s illegitimate babies for a fee.
In the 19th century the practice would often result in child neglect.
“Winifred manages to be a good baby farmer and cares for them despite being disturbed but the babies start to disappear,” Ravenswood said.
“Our reviews said it is a fairly intense experience and not for the faint of heart. This is our fifth play (since 2009) and of everything we have done, this is the most melancholy and sombre piece.
“While it is intense, it is quite sad and definitely tragic.”
The Baby Farmer is on at the Old Castlemaine Gaol on May 26 and 27. Each exhibition opens 8pm with the performances starting at 9pm.
Bendigo’s Engine Room Theatre will host The Baby Farmer from June 8 to 12.
A performance will be help on June 8 to 10 with the exhibition open from 8pm and the show starting at 9pm. The exhibition is also open from midday to 5pm from June 9 to 12.