In The Good Girl Song Project, Penny Larkins (vocals), Helen Begley (guitars and vocals) Jamie Molloy (concertina and vocals) and Penelope Swales (whistles and vocals), present a powerful account of a voyage that thousands of brave young women voluntarily took to Australia in the 1830's. Based on the academic work of Liz Rushen, the story takes the audience on a voyage from Gravesend to Sydney where they are introduced to the immigration experience through the eyes of immigrant women.
The piece comprises a theatrical folk song cycle written by Helen and spoken word and action devised from eyewitness accounts. Penny appears as the lead voice of these ancestral female emigrants who remind us of the risky journeys women have taken to arrive in Australia from the centuries to the present day.
Written by Helen Begley and based on the academic writings of Liz Rushen and others, this is a show that speaks to the unknown history of Australian women. The script quotes directly from eyewitness accounts of the voyages and the songs capture the humor and poignancy of everyday life on board the ship.
In 2017, The Good Girl Song Project produced the audio CD, “Voyage”. Recorded at Sing Sing in Melbourne and engineered and co-produced by Lachlan Wooden, the recording will be officially launched and toured in 2018 alongside the show.
‘Voyage” has been presented at many festivals including the National Celtic Festival 2015 and 2017 Nanga Music festival in WA, Maldon Folk Festival 2015 and 2017, Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival, Cygnet Folk Festival, and Illawarra Music Festival 2017, Tablelands Folk Festival in Yungaburra QLD, Majors Creek and Woodford in 2017.
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“When you pick up your program, make sure you put a big circle around a performance of The Good Girl: A Song Project. we were delighted by it at Maldon. Helen's songs are gritty, evocative and pull no punches. Jamie and Penelope contribute beautifully to the music on concertina and whistle and Penny and Penelope breathe life and warmth into the characters. So great to see and hear one of the little known stories of the role women played in building modern Australia. “
“ . . . beautiful performance, powerful and moving work. And a creaky stage for added atmosphere! “
“I'm listening to the CD and really enjoying it. Thank you Helen Begley for sending it to me. An amazing album. “
“You know these moments. You'll be in front of a band or hear a song from a street-side busker. Or in the car and BANG! You pull up as quick as you can to get the title of THAT song. So it was the case for all of us that were lucky enough to present The Good Girl: A Song Project at the Ballan RSL.
Sound check was...well...inspiring. Just small offerings to test the tracking and get some reference. Just enough to whet the appetite. Helen and her artists unassumingly take their seats. The audience is in and chatting away.
The first note. And then the audience becomes one and are immersed in the journey of women migrating from the British Isles in 1883 to Australia.
For the next hour the only sound we hear is this amazing group. They put you in the boat that Lizzie [the main protagonist] endured. You feel the heartbreak of a daughter leaving her father. You taste the bitter tears that were wept when the streets of Sydney town reveal as oh so not friendly to these naive young women. Full of hope. Of dreams. In the belief that what lies ahead is far better that what they have known only to discover more hardship than they could ever imagine.”