Writers: Candace Miles, Madelaine Nunn and Anna Rodway (Three Birds Theatre) in collaboration with Carolyn Bock and Helen Hopkins (The Shift Theatre)
Directed by: Janice Muller
Performed by: Carolyn Bock, Helen Hopkins, Candace Miles, Madelaine Nunn and Anna Rodway
Set/Costume Design: Sophie Woodward
Set Construction: Jacob Battista
Lighting Design: Gina Gascoigne
Sound Design: Rachel Stone
Inspired by the biography A Spanner in the Works by Loretta Smith, available through Hachette Australia.
It’s the untold story of an Australian automotive icon – and it’s fabulous fun!
Imagine…1920s Melbourne-the advent of the motorcar! Society reels from the aftermath of war and a second wave of Spanish flu wreaks havoc on the streets. Theatres buzz with vaudeville hacks and men with an eye for enterprise seize every opportunity to weasel wealth.
Meanwhile, one small woman defies convention and makes her mark…
Part history, part farce, part who-done-it, Garage Girls shines a light on one remarkable young woman’s short but eventful life. Who was Alice Anderson? Why did she drive her baby Austin all the way to Alice Springs? Who were all those women, dressed in greasy dungarees… and don’t they look a little bit like men?
Sparked by actual events and a healthy dose of magic realism, breathtaking sound design and many colourful characters, played by five actors-Garage Girls is a rip-roaring ride celebrating an Australian icon.
Welcome to Miss Anderson’s All Girl Garage!
Available to Tour
Comedy, Biography, History, Ensemble
Suitable for 15+
Venue Format – Mainstage
Theatre (Proscenium), Civic/Cultural Centre, Black Box, Studio, Thrust, Town Hall
Venue Format – Radio Play
Town/Community Hall, Library, Gallery, Garage, Found Spaces
(5 performers, 1 SM, 1 PM)
2023 – La Mama Courthouse
2024 – RAV Radio Play Tour (planned)
What people are saying
★★★★ “Lively and deeply researched ensemble theatre… The ensemble sketches the garage workers with comic charm and a palpable sense of excitement and camaraderie.” The Age
“A vibrant show full of enthusiasm… highly engaging, high energy and enthusiastic performances… The set design for this production is incredible… Highly Recommended.” Theatre Travels
“Sharp as a razor, very witty, very funny and beautifully directed with much visual humour… Garage Girls is a fun, feisty and fantastical story. A sheer pleasure to watch ” Stage Whispers
“Superb performances, an outstanding ensemble…This is first class storytelling. Theatre People
“An extremely schmick show… The dialogue is expertly grounded in the story’s context, each character is fully formed and loveable… Garage Girls, with its witty dialogue and entertaining ensemble work, won’t disappoint.” Arts Hub
A show for lovers of feel-good movies, Australian stories and women beating the odds.
History Buffs: Individuals interested in historical narratives and the real-life stories of trailblazers. The play sheds light on her remarkable journey, igniting curiosity about her unconventional life, clientele, motivations, and challenges.
Automobile Enthusiasts: Auto club members, vintage car lovers, and those with an interest in automotive history.
Feminists and Gender Advocates: The portrayal of Alice Anderson’s pioneering spirit in defying gender norms resonates with audiences passionate about women’s empowerment and challenging societal conventions.
Multigenerational Audiences: The engaging narrative, humour, and relatable themes make it accessible to almost all ages, from teens to seniors.
Community Audiences: The radio play version of the production opens doors for unique and activated performance spaces, from small halls to libraries, galleries, and even garages.
Quality Production: outstanding reviews from critics, audiences, and regional presenting partners.
Historical society? Invite the local historical buffs and encourage them to mingle with the cast afterwards.
Book club/CWA members? Read ‘A Spanner in the Works’ by Loretta Smith and join us for the live stage show!
Car clubs? Organise a group ticket deal for the veteran car club; encourage audience members to bring an item from their garage to help the actors dress the set: e.g. a wrench, an oil drum!
Unique Performance Options: With two versions available – a radio-style reading and a traditional staged performance – “Garage Girls” offers versatility. See the Slow Touring section below.
Unsung Heroine: “Garage Girls” sheds light on Alice Anderson and her significant contribution to automotive and gender history. Audiences will walk away inspired by this remarkable Australian.
Unique Theatricality: Combining elements of Australian Gothic allure and the physical antics reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s humor, the play balances mystery, farce, magic realism, and historical drama to create a dynamic and engaging storyline.
Slow Touring Concept
Have a large regional theatre with small towns nearby? How about gallery, library, or unsual spaces that you’d love to see activated with a new Australian story?
Critical Stages Touring is offering two version of Garage Girls:
- Mainstage – the full production presented in a traditional theatre or town hall space.
- Radio Play – a lo-fi version that can be performed with just sound support in almost any space.
We’d love to talk to you about bringing either version to your community, and we are especially keen to talk to venues that have satellite towns or spaces within 2 hours drive of a city centre. Using the mainstage presentation and city centre as a base, we’d work with you to identify up to four communities that could benefit from having the radio play version come to them over a one-week period.
We call it Hub-and-Spoke touring, where our team embeds for longer in your region, reaching more audiences than previously possible, and still accompanied by outstanding workshop and skills development opportunities.
“We are so lucky that Garage Girls was brought down here to regional Victoria, we can\’t thank Three Birds Theatre & The Shift enough!” AYNSLIE WATSON SECRETARY, STRATFORD COURTHOUSE
About Shift Theatre
The Shift Theatre’s mission is to create dynamic theatre with strong female roles. Since 2009, we have produced works of longevity with a solid touring history proven regionally, nationally and internationally. The key to our artistic practice is passion for the power of storytelling and the platform of live theatre. Founded in 2009, The Shift Theatre had its inaugural season at The Dog Theatre in Footscray producing two works: the Australian premiere of Nilo Cruz’ Two Sisters and A Piano and Fred, by acclaimed Australian playwright Beatrix Christian. With L.Wolf Productions, The Shift Theatre co-produced Lost in Ringwood in 2013.
The company has produced two original Australian works both successful in garnering government and corporate support. The Girls in Grey had a successful creative development at La Mama Theatre in 2010, and performances at The Shrine of Remembrance in 2011 as part of Education Week. After a premiere season at Theatre Works in St Kilda in 2012 and inclusion on the V.C.E. Playlist ,the show toured regional Victoria in 2013, N.S.W. and Victoria in 2014 and W.A. in 2015. The Shift Theatre’s original work Hallowed Ground – Women Doctors in War had a season at La Mama in Carlton in 2018 then toured to Adelaide Fringe Festival, regional Victoria and Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 winning a Summerhall Lustrum award.
About Three Birds Theatre
Three Birds Theatre is a Green Room Award-nominated, independent theatre company established in 2015 by Candace Miles, Madelaine Nunn and Anna Rodway (graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts). Three Birds Theatre has swiftly gained recognition as exciting innovators of sharp, comedy driven theatre, with their original works receiving critical acclaim (they once even had the greatest pleasure of bumping into the esteemed Julia Zemiro in a Melbourne coffee shop, who publicly declared Three Birds to be “three master story-tellers”!).
Three Birds Theatre is devoted to bringing female-focused stories to the stage, through harnessing musical language, witty dialogue and a striking visual world. Original works include Will This Show Take Off? (Nati Frinj), Enter Ophelia (La Mama, National Gallery of Australia), LadyCake (Poppy Seed Theatre Festival, Nati Frinj) and Three Birds One Cock (Melbourne Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Mechanics Institute, toured regionally with Regional Arts Victoria). With four original works over four years, written, performed and produced by Candace, Madelaine and Anna, extensive tour experience, building trajectory of work and devoted audience base, Three Birds Theatre is quickly cementing its place within the Australian theatre landscape.