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About Dust & Ruin

This year the programme consists of three short plays.

First up is 'Bed Among the Lentils' which is taken from the popular television series 'Talking Heads' by Alan Bennett.

Next comes 'The Right Person' by Philip MacKie. He originally wrote this mysterious piece as a Television drama, then adapted it for the stage and later rewrote it for a highly successful Hammer Film.

Finally there is a somewhat more controversial piece 'Untimely Ripp'd' by Maurice McLoughlin. It is the 1960's; Janet Logan is sixteen and she is pregnant. What are her options? Set in an approved school for girls, Janet receives conflicting, but well-intentioned, advice from the doctor, the reverend mother and a local councillor.

Each year this slot offers the opportunity to experiment. This may be with new writing, new styles of presentation, new directors, new performers.

This year, whilst the plays themselves may be of a more traditional type there are several debuts.

Two long standing members, Wendy Hall and Hedley Thomson, are making their BNT Directorial debuts as is highly experienced professional director Nigel Rideout (who recently directed BLOC's Sound of Music and 'fills in' with this production whilst completing his latest book and before returning to the UK).

On stage there will be three newcomers to BNT. Samantha Sonter, John Shaw and, the youngest, Alexandra McLaren who joins her mother Mary-Rose McLaren (a long-term BNT performer) in the final play.

Other returning regulars featured in the season include Pam Maiden, Michael Zala, Lesley Hale, Marg Jarvis, and Liesl Vanderkley, who returns after an extended period in Canada.

July 9th to 16th 2011

  • Location: The Courthouse Theatre

  • Genre: Drama

  • Director: Wendy Hall, Nigel Rideout & Hedley Thomson

Cast: A Bed Among the Lentils

Pamela Maiden


Wendy Hall


Cast: Untimley Ripp'd

Samantha Sonter

Sister Pauline

Lesley Hall

Dr Ellis

Mary- Rose McLaren

Reverend Mother

Alexandra McLaren

Janet Logan

Marg Jarvis

Councillor Mrs Owen

Nigel Rideout


Cast: The Right Person

Liesl Vanderkley

Matha Jorgensen

Michael Zala

Hans Rasmussen

John Shaw

Jorgen Jorgensen

Hedley Thomson



  • Stage Manager

    Sally Read

  • Switchboard

    Reid Harrison

  • Sound Recording

    Hardy Audio

  • Set Design

    Julian Oldfield

  • Lighting Design

    Hedley Thomson

Performance Gallery


Reviewer: Peter Tulloch

For this years 'Season of Shorts' the Ballarat National Theatre has chosen the tantalising title "Heads and Tales". A program of one act plays which prove to be sensitive thought provoking and entertaining. Though the subject matter of the three plays is unrelated they are held together by skilful individual touches within the all purpose set design by Julian Oldfield.

'A Bed Among the Lentils' by Alan Bennett is a script from the highly successful television series 'Talking Heads'. Bennett finds poetry in the ordinary and truth in simple human observations that are at once moving and amusing. Under her subtle direction Wendy Hall, brings the necessary balance of wit and pathos to the life of the Vicar's wife. This is a tour de force for the solo performer Pamela Maiden as she crafts images of 'Mrs Vicar' to the letter. She clearly captures the frustrations and challenges of attempting to keep up appearances while she seeks solace and intimacy in drink and the arms of an Asian grocer. Mr Bennett would enjoy this production.

The second piece, by Philip Mackie is 'The Right Person', about accusation revenge and possible coincidence. Hans Rasmussen played with gentle menace by Michael Zala inveigles his way into the hotel suite of the newly wed Martha Jorgensen suggesting through various circumstances that her husband may well be the betrayer of a team of resistance fighters at the end of the war. Liesl Vanderkley convincingly plays Martha with admirable control as she defends her husband, despite niggling doubt and mounting evidence. When he arrives, John Shaw's suave husband Jorgen, seems to provide some answers but will the marriage be a happy one? With simple direction Hedley Thomson builds the tension and maintains our curiosity.

In his play 'Untimely Ripp'd', Maurice McLoughlin has tried to cover every aspect of the problems associated with teenage pregnancy and abortion.
Set in a Convent in 1969 where the sisters have supported many young women, Mary-Rose McLaren as the Reverend Mother, steers a steady course sure in her faith and supported by her experience. Offering an opposing view for health reasons is Dr Ellis sympathetically but strictly played by Lesley Hale. The bumptious Councillor Mrs Owen JP is equally militant but with her own agenda, emphatically portrayed by Marg Jarvis. As Janet Logan the three months pregnant bedazzled teenager Alexandra McLaren is properly confused with just the right amount of sulk. Samantha Sonter is a suitable foil and offers an appropriate example of the young nun Sister Pauline. Nigel Rideout deftly directs these five strong women offering the arguments without taking sides.

The season plays Saturday 9th July, then 13th, 14th 15th July @ 8 pm with Matinees Sunday 10th & Saturday 16th July.