The Cascades Female Factory Historic Site launched a new dramatised tour on Thursday 9th January. Called The Proud and The Punished, it is a 45-minute, one-woman performance centred around Sarah Mason, a female convict who rails against the system of punishment and redemption inside the walls of the prison.
The performance is a collaborative creation by Ben-Irons Productions and playwright Finegan Krukemeyer.
It takes place inside Yard One of the Female Factory. It’s really engaging: the audience is addressed as though it’s a group of female convicts who have just arrived at the prison. The dramatisation features multiple characters, all played by the one female actor, who does an amazing job. She is a natural performer who seems to easily and naturally capture the essence of every character.
Songs and humour are woven throughout The Proud and The Punished, but it is very much an adult-orientated story. It addresses various mature themes, like children being taken away from their convict mothers.
It is nevertheless a great way to learn what life was actually like for the women inside the Female Factory. It’s otherwise very hard to find out: there is very little of the prison left (only the exterior walls are still standing, in fact).
It also serves to both help us judge the ills of history, but also celebrate individual strengths.
“Sarah Mason lived a life which reflects the female convict experience well – as a petty criminal sent to it, an injured victim of it and a mouthy challenger against it. The few words which record her for posterity suggest someone embattled by the system, but never quite crushed by it. Despite her early death, there is contained in her years a complex, evocative life which serves to both help us judge history’s structural ills, and also celebrate history’s individual strengths.” – Finegan Krukemeyer
Cascades Female Factory Historic Site Manager Greta McDonald said that Sarah’s story is a compilation of the historical accounts of the women at the female factory who went through incredible hardships; from assignment, pregnancy and punishment. “Through hard work and strength of character, many women were able to not only survive, but to rise above this hardship,” she said.”They were the women who went on to be the founding mothers and entrepreneurs of this new land.”
If you’re interested in seeing The Proud and The Punished, individual tickets are $25, and family ones are $70. Children can watch it for $15. It is performed every day (except Saturdays) at 2.30pm.
The Female Factory itself is open from 9.30am-4.00pm, seven days a week.