How a potato race is helping in battle for gender equality

Dubbo Regional Theatre will stage an Ensemble Theatre Production of Melanie Tait’s new comedy, The Appleton Ladies Potato Race, on Tuesday 11 May 2021 at 7.30 pm. It’s a funny, honest and heart-warming story about upsetting the potato cart and standing up for your principles. Appleton is a small country town being forced into the present with a recent influx of wealthy city slickers, tree-changers and refugees.

Simmering tensions come to a head when new GP Penny Anderson discovers that the famous Appleton Potato Race awards $1000 prize money for the men, and a measly $200 for the women. When Penny decides to take steps to restore gender parity and coax Appleton into the 21st century, she couldn’t have anticipated the spiralling, hilarious culture war that would follow.

“The Appleton Ladies Potato Race, inspired by real life events, is a comedy about our relationship to both history and change. Through the lens of five female characters living in rural Australia we look in on ourselves as a nation. It’s a funny play with a huge heart that is not afraid to pack a punch. It is about rejection and acceptance; seeing the world as it really is and at the same time, daring to ask if it can be something more,” said Manager DRTCC Linda Christof.

In the 21st century Australians are continually participating in global conversations around privilege and gender parity – The Appleton Ladies Potato Race gently provokes conversation around owning and celebrating our past while continuing to question our relationship with generational and social and political change. Melanie Tait wrote this play in 2018 after her own experience when she ‘upset the potato cart’ for gender equality in her home town, Robertson, in the NSW Southern Highlands.

“I couldn’t believe that in the 21st century the prize money would have such inequality for the men’s race and the women’s race so I started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the women’s prize and thought the whole town would support it. But they didn’t. What happened was a huge division – those who supported my campaign and those who hated it. It gave me an idea of how incredible people are who forge through a fight in their own community – who keep campaigning when it feels like everyone is against them. ‘This inequality had been going on for years and I wanted to change it’, said Melanie Tait.

Manager, Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre, Linda Christof said, ‘Anybody who has been a volunteer on a committee will be able to relate to this hilarious quick-witted comedy play with its committee dynamics, unique personalities and change resisters. This play is not to be confused with the story based on the book and movie The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – which is a completely different story line. Appleton is great gift idea for Mum this Mothers’ Day,” said Ms Christof.

‘It’s timely that this play is being presented in the exciting lead up to the Dubbo Show – the play will give an insight into what it takes to be on a committee – the challenges and the triumphs,” she said.

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