Foreigners from Home

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L. P. Hartley’s novel, The Go-Between, begins with the words ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’
This is also the theme for the play, Foreigners from Home, the story of the Kidd family struggling through the hardships of the 1930s’ Great Depression in country Australia.

FAMDA staged Foreigners from Home under the direction of its playwright,
Chris Dickins @ Foster War Memorial Arts Centre 27 September – 6 October 2013

Older Elizabeth:  Dianne Paragreen
Arthur:  Norm Willoughby
Young Elizabeth:  Harley McDonald-Eckersall
Fitzgerald:  Leuca Maclean
Marion:  Joanne Street
Walter:  Bruce Grainger
Bronwyn:  Sarah Maclean
Harold:  Mike Street
Stan:  Jason Midwinter

Other characters played by various cast members

Director:  Chris Dickins
Production Manager:  Edwin Coad
Stage Manager:  Annette Walker
Set, Lighting & Sound Design:  Chris Dickins
Costume Design:  Anda Banikos
Lighting Technician:  Andrew Oldroyd
Sound Operator:   Brian Paragreen
Lighting Operator:  Larry Giddy / James McIntyre
Set Construction Manager:  Edwin Coad
Set & Props Construction:  Bruce Crowl, Bert Fabel, Graeme Green
Ray Jones, Geoff Montague, Phil Nightingall, Bill Park, Don Roberts
Mike Street, The Men’s Shed, Norm Willoughby
Set Painting:  Kate Crowl, Leuca Maclean, Peter Maclean, Joanne Street
Costumes:  Rhonda Burke, Nicole Roberts
Hair & Make-Up:  Nicole Roberts
Foyer Presentation:  Rhonda Burke
Tiered Seating Installation:  Edwin Coad, Bruce Crowl, Bert Fabel
Larry Giddy, Jason Midwinter, Phil Nightingall, Brian Paragreen
Robert Paragreen, Don Roberts
Front of House Manager:  Edwin Coad
Ticket Sales:  Deborah Harris, Main Street Revelations
Venue Box Office:  Linda Giddy, Jennifer Paragreen, Jocelyn Town, Mohya Davies
Publicity, Marketing & Programme:  Jennifer Paragreen
Photography:  Rhonda Burke, Yianni Baikos
Video:   Robert Paragreen


Photos by John Banikos

Foreigners from Home, the latest production from the acclaimed Foster Theatre company FAMDA, more than lived up to my expectations.
Both cleverly written and expertly directed by Chris Dickens, the story tells the tale of the Kidd family in Australia in the Depression.

Chris skillfully guides his talented group of actors through the heartbreak and the humour of that era.
Survival and courage, making do, going without but family sticking together through hard times is the theme of the play. From entering the theatre and seeing the simple but clever set, the audience is transported through time to the dark days and hardships of the 1930s.
With an experienced adult cast to guide them, special mention must be made of the two young people, Leuca Maclean (Fitzgerald) and Harley McDonald-Eckersall (young Elizabeth) who both give truly believable performances.
Harley, perfectly cast and making her acting debut in this production, gives an outstanding performance and no doubt we will see her on stage again.
Leuca is perfectly cast and convincing as Fitzy. His mischievous character’s emotions vary from excitement to despair.
The audience was truly moved with some of his emotional scenes.  With perfect diction and voice projection these two young people are a great find for FAMDA.
The struggling parents of the family of five, Walter and Marion, are expertly played by experienced actors, Bruce Grainger and Joanne Street, bringing strong quality and sympathetic performances to their roles that local theatre goers have come to expect from them both. Norm Willoughby plays Arthur (Grandpa) with conviction.
FAMDA stalwart Dianne Paragreen is always convincing in her performances. This time she faultlessly portrays the older Elizabeth who is the narrator of the unfolding story of her childhood as she writes her memoirs.
The rest of the family is played by Sarah Maclean (Bronwyn), Mike Street (Harold), and Jason Midwinter (Stan).
Admittedly, the cast members have wonderful material to work with but they make the most of every situation with perfect timing.
Highlights of the play include the moving prayer scene when the family has no food, the emotional trauma when Fitzy’s dog has to be shot and the death scene which had audience members in tears because it was so real.
The staging of a dust storm and a swimming scene in a creek are brilliantly projected by a simple stage prop and lights.
Congratulations to FAMDA on yet another excellent production. This is local theatre at its best and should not be missed.

Avril van Wamel
‘Great Southern Star’, Leongatha – October 3, 2013

FAMDA shines light on dark times
People who lived through the Great Depres­sion of 1929-32 will find the latest production from the Foster Amateur Music & Drama Association (FAMDA) rekindles memories. For anyone else, ‘For­eigners from Home’ is wonderfully illuminating, shedding light on what it was like for a family strug­gling through the 1930s in rural Australia.

The play was written several years ago by Chris Dickins, who recently moved to Foster, and this production is directed by the playwright himself, with his partner, Annette Walker, as stage manager.

Tying in neatly with FAMDA’s celebrations this year of 60 years of local theatre, ‘Foreigners from Home’ centres on the memories of Elizabeth (played by Dianne Paragreen) looking back 60 years from 1990 to her childhood in the 1930s.

Family life, with its fun and its sorrows, is brought to life by a cast of all ages, some (like Di Paragreen) with much more experience than others on the stage, but without exception the acting is excellent. Norm Willoughby, who plays Arthur (Captain) Kidd, the grandfather, is well-known to local theatre-goers, as is Bruce Grainger, who plays Walter, and Jo Street, Walter’s wife Marion. They can always be relied upon to do a great job.

The real stars of the Show, however, are youngsters, Harley McDonald-Eckersall (as young Elizabeth) and Leuca Maclean (Fitzgerald), very convincing as feisty sister and mischievous brother. They are called upon to run the full gamut of emo­tions in their performances, and do so with great aplomb, leaving the audience deeply moved.

Musical numbers from the 1930s, together with a script sprinkled liberally with expressions in the idiom of the day and a set featuring a faded cottage, complete with veranda, add to the period atmos­phere.

This is a fine play, at the same informative and affecting.  FAMDA is to be congratulated for tackling such a challenging piece of theatre and carrying it off so successfully.

‘Foreigners from Home’ is now showing at the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre. Tickets can be purchased from Main Street Revelations (tel. 0400 867 872). Bargain hunters can purchase tickets for the Thursday (October 3) show for $16 each.

Otherwise, ticket prices are $22 (adults) or $18 (concession) for 8pm shows on Friday and Satur­day, October 4 and 5, and for the matinee show at 2pm on Sunday (October 6). Get along and support your local theatre – and help FAMDA celebrate 60 years of quality productions.

Wendy Williamson
‘The Mirror’ – October 2, 2013


You’ve got to hand it to Foster’s theatrical group FAMDA, for supporting original, local work and being prepared to take a risk in the true spirit of the performing arts.

Last Friday night, they didn’t so much take a risk in presenting ‘Foreigners From Home’ as the play has been widely produced throughout Australia, but they can certainly claim the play as an original, local work.

A recent tree-change arrival in the area, Chris Dickens, both wrote and directed the piece and you could certainly see his passion for the themes in the play in evidence.

He is quoted as saying “the script is dedicated to my parents who both lived through the Great Depression then raised my brothers and me on stories and lessons from the era”.

Anyone of a certain age with similar memories will find that much of what takes place in the play rings true to their own experiences, especially in the dialogue which also pays homage to the Depression years in Australia when infant death and hard times went hand in hand.

These are the dark themes of the play. Taut humour also breaks through as it is want to do when things get really tough.

The local rendition of the play features the emerging talents of two young actors,  Harley-McDonald-Eckersall as ‘Young Elizabeth’ and Leuca Maclean as ‘Fitzgerald’. The pair stole the show while receiving strong support from Bruce Granger as ‘Walter’, Jo Street as ‘Marion’ and Norm Willoughby as ‘Arthur’ with FAMDA stalwart Dianne Paragreen linking it all together as ‘Older Elizabeth’, the narrator.

The play continues next week and, in the mould of  ‘On Our Selection’, it is worthy of the community’s support.

Michael Giles
‘South Gippsland Sentinel Times” – October 1, 2013

Thank you, all you clever people.
Foreigners From Home was something very special and I think we all went home with throat lumps.
What a story!  What a presentation!  You are all wonderful.
How many are left who survived those terrible times?  I doubt if any.
My Mum told me of the awful sights in Melbourne as people were evicted owing rent and were just left on the footpath with their meagre possessions.
My Dad was one of the fortunate ones who kept his job all through those terrible years.  So many rushed to join the army in 1939 because they had never had a real job.  More tragedies.
We really do live in a lucky country now.
Cheers and more thanks ……………………………………………………………………  Shirley Westaway



Bruce Grainger‘s performance as Walter Kidd, the father in FAMDA’s play, Foreigners from Home, earned him the trophy for the Most Outstanding Male Support Actor in a Drama or Comedy.

This achievement was even more remarkable when you consider that he stepped into the role less than two weeks before the play was due to hit the stage.

FAMDA also received Michelle Linahan’s judge’s award for the “beautiful creation of a river using fabric, lighting and sound” in Foreigners from Home.

Gippsland Associated Theatre nominations

FAMDA – Foreigners from Home

Chris Dickins – Foreigners from Home

Chris Dickins

Harley McDonald-Eckersall, young Elizabeth Kidd

Bruce Grainger, Walter Kidd

Norm Willoughby, Arthur Kidd

Leuca Maclean, Fitzgerald Kidd


The Victorian Drama League awards for plays were announced in Melbourne on Sunday 8 December 2013.

In competition with 27 plays from across the state, Chris Dickins earned nominations for both the sound design and the lighting design of FAMDA’s Foreigners from Home.

Bruce Grainger was nominated as the best supporting actor in a drama for his performance as Walter.


Foreigners from Home was written by Chris Dickins, who now lives in Foster.

The story has a more recent context by being told through the eyes of a now aged family member who, in 1990 while recalling her childhood, is able to look at past events from a different perspective.

Foreigners from Home is “an unashamedly Australian play in its idiom, setting, characters and plot. In its depiction of the past, it reminds us that history can indeed repeat itself and, though advances in technology may have altered some parts of our lives, the essential human qualities, fears and strengths remain”.
The play was first performed in 1991 and has received many accolades from audiences young and old.  It has even been translated into German for a successful season in Frankfurt. 

For further information about  Foreigners from Home’ contact:
Chris Dickins, the playwright and director for FAMDA’s production, via
christopherdickins3 [@] or 0428 560 842 or 03 5682 2151





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