When Redfoot Youth Theatre decided to put on a theatre production for boarding families and performed by boarding students, the staff searched everywhere for a script that regional and rural students could easily relate to. They found nothing. So Hale School teacher Julia Jarel decided to write something herself. The result is a new, original play, Kicker Thompson,
which premiered in the Wheatbelt town of Borden on 7 April before performances in Perth on 11 and 12 April 2018.
The story is set in a Wheatbelt town, much like Borden, and is about a boarding student torn between his love of football and debilitating anxiety. The cast is made up of 20 Year 8 and 9 boarders from Hale School and St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School, all boarding students and amateurs who have had little exposure to theatre but have found new skills and connections through this experience.
The story centres around protagonist Kicker Thompson, whose great loves are the country, his family, his best mates, the farm and footy. Day and night, he dreams of becoming an AFL footballer. However, as he grows up, he starts experiencing terrifying panic attacks. Does this mean he must give up his dream to stay safe?
Ms Jarel drew upon her own earliest experience of living and teaching in the Wheatbelt to write the script, as well as her experience living and working with boys.
"As a mother and teacher of boys and boarders, I have been very concerned that boys feel safe and willing to express their feelings and problems," she said. "Yet, in recent years, I have observed with ever growing dismay, the burgeoning incidence of anxiety and depression, particularly in young men. This affliction does not seem to be limited to any specific group but appears to be particularly prominent in isolated areas and in those who are isolated by circumstances. These circumstances include those which are perhaps surprising because they are the same circumstances to which many of us aspire – for example, excellence and great success in sporting arenas such as AFL football."
is a play for young teenagers. It brings together the warmth, humour and great gifts of the country with the challenges and trials faced by those who live there. It embraces the love of family, support of community and even includes a hint of romance. Kicker Thompson embarks on a true hero’s journey and takes us with him on every emotional step of the way.