Higher Faster Louder
by Marilyn Marsh-Booth
It has been asked of me, if I encountered difficulties on my journey. The answer was, not difficulties, but minor setbacks, which always encouraged me to find a different way of doing something, or a different person to ask. So, I wrote this play to encourage others, particularly, but not exclusively, women, to never take no for an answer.
Luck is putting the work in. Achieving is being persistent.
The play begins in England, in 1946, the year I was born, and continues until I was aged 26. Times were very different, as were behaviours. There was no talk of gender, or sexual harassment. After all, it was the swinging 60’s, and not too long after the second world war; people were having fun.
JUTE Theatre Company, which I’ve been involved with in various ways for many years, encouraged me to write this story. They have been with me every step of the way on this four-year journey, through the writer in residence program, facilitated by Kathryn Ash. I feel very humbled that they had such faith in me.
With his son’s permission, I dedicate this play to Captain R.E. ‘Bob’ Atkins, Chief Pilot of Dan Air from 1963. He was a non-traditionalist in a very traditional era. It was mainly through his influence, that I received the scholarship to Oxford Air Training School. Sponsoring a woman was totally unheard of, but his opinion that it didn’t matter whether you were a male or female, as long as you did the job, was the catalyst I needed to start my career. He passed away earlier this year at the age of 99.
Welcome to this brand-new play by first time playwright Marilyn Marsh-Booth. With hindsight Marilyn is a truly astonishing trailblazer, but in her time, and according to her, a woman with a clear, calm and certain determination to simply be allowed to fly. It is always such a pleasure to direct a premiere of a new Australian work, I am fortunate that I have had many opportunities in my career to do this, and the excitement and passion that goes into the launching of a new theatre piece never gets old.
I would like to thank JUTE and the team here in Gimuy for this opportunity to return, particularly Kathryn Ash and her unflagging support through Write Sparks to delicately and determinedly shepherd a new work from an idea to an audience. I have been surrounded and supported by a wonderful team of actors and a superb creative and production team who I am, as always, indebted to. I hope you enjoy and are engaged and surprised by this marvellous story based on a singular and unique life shared on paper, in our rehearsals and now with you by Marilyn and all of those who have supported her.
Fasten your seatbelts!
JUTE Theatre Company proudly presents its latest production, Higher Faster Louder, a new play born from the remarkable experiences of Marilyn Marsh-Booth, one of the world’s first female commercial pilots during the transformative era of women’s liberation in the 1960s.
Fast and furiously funny, this play challenges the status quo and persistent gender barriers that continue to linger in our modern world.
Higher Faster Louder reminds audiences that true change often comes from courage and perseverance, embracing the unknown, and pushing the boundaries of possibility. Be brave and never give up on your dreams.
Prepare to be moved as Marilyn’s story unfolds on stage, flying the highs and the lows of what it takes to change the world. The sky is not the limit—it’s just the beginning.
Approximately 1 hr 30 minutes
Suitable for grades 7 and up (age 12 and over)
CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM PAGE INDEX
Marilyn was born in West Yorkshire in 1946, a year after the end of the second world war. Her parents owned a fish and chip shop. She went to grammar school, but was sufficiently disinterested in more study, to turn down the opportunity of free university. There was no career guidance in those days…Her mother found her a job in an office, which she hated. This spurred her on to leave home and go and work in Europe, which eventually resulted in a 30-year career in aviation.
Upon retirement from aviation, Marilyn explored many other careers, including opening and running her own personal training studio. She became very interested in theatre and saw many shows at JUTE Theatre Company before volunteering in various roles, such as ushering, ticket sales and assistant stage manager. Marilyn decided to attend an acting course with JUTE, which she enjoyed, but she felt acting was not for her. JUTE offered Marilyn a place on the Write Sparks playwriting course, which she accepted, and at the culmination of the course, submitted a full script. This led to a three year writer-in-residence with JUTE, resulting in the production of the work Higher Faster Louder.
Kathryn Ash is an award-winning playwright, dramaturge and as co-founder of the company, she has been an integral part of the organisation for over three decades, contributing her expertise on a project-by-project basis. Currently serving as the Senior Creative Producer, Kathryn has been the driving force behind JUTE’s powerful new works development programs, which have been the catalyst for developing over 40 diverse regional playwrights, and creating JUTE’s significant canon of new and contemporary theatre works over the last two decades.
Her passion for nurturing emerging writers led her to establish Write Sparks, a series of workshops aimed at developing new writers’ skills and works through intensive residencies in both online and in-person formats, held in Cairns and throughout Queensland.
Kathryn’s expertise as a dramaturge has been sought after by various projects and organisations. She has worked on critically acclaimed and award-winning scripts such as “The Longest Minute,” “I am Kegu”, and “I Is Maggie”
With over thirty plays to her name, Kathryn Ash’s talent as a playwright has garnered national recognition and international awards, including multiple awards. Her plays, including co-written ones such as “From Campfire to Stage Light,” and “La Bella Figura”, and plays she has written solo such as “Flutter”, “Bag o’ Marbles’, and “Here We All Are. Assembled,” have received widespread acclaim and most of her works have been produced, toured, and published.
An outstanding graduate of the University of Melbourne and the Victorian College of the Arts, Matt Scholten is the Artistic Director & Creative Producer of prolific independent company If Theatre whose work has been seen all over Australia in metropolitan and regional settings. Matt’s creative practice is centred on engaging storytelling projects with a thematic focus on social justice, LGBTQIA+ stories, community based projects and raising diverse and marginalised voices into the mainstream. As both a freelancer and through If Theatre’s collaborations, Matt has worked extensively on developing, premiering and touring new Australian work and as a mentor to emerging creatives.
His theatre work has been seen at a range of professional companies including La Mama, Melbourne Theatre Company, Belvoir Street Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, JUTE, Playlab, Queensland Theatre, Regional Arts Victoria, HOTA Gold Coast, Tasmanian Theatre Company, Playwriting Australia, Theatre Works and Union House Theatre. His film work has been supported by Screen Queensland, Screen Australia and Network Ten. He has taught acting and directed at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Southern Queensland, Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology.
Matt’s theatre work has attracted wins and nominations for Helpmann, Green Room, Matilda, Tasmanian Theatre, APACA and Drama Victoria Awards and his short film BELONGING won the Melbourne Queer Film Festival Award for Best Documentary and was nominated for the Audience Award at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Film Festival. He is currently developing a suite of theatre and screen based projects. Matt is a proudly queer artist and a descendant of the Yugambeh Migunberri people of the Bundjalung Nation.
Julia Allman is an actor, dancer and teacher who has recently returned to her tropical roots in Cairns. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in performance studies (QUT), she has engaged as a performer and collaborating artist for a wide range of festivals and theatres in South East Queensland, including La Boite Theatre Company, Brisbane Powerhouse, Metro Arts Theatre, World Theatre Festival and Anywhere Theatre Festival. As a qualified teacher, Julia is a highly energetic teaching artist with a diverse skill set. She seeks to foster a passion for performance in young people by modelling the drive and discipline required to pursue a career in the Performing Arts.
Currently, she engages as a facilitator for JUTE Actor’s Studio programs and delivers professional quality dance training to the community with FULL OUT DANCE CROWD. Since her return to Cairns, JUTE has welcomed her as part of their family, including her in creative developments and showcases and supporting her as an emerging writer through their Write Sparks program. Chris and Ines, her actual family, are happy to have her here, too!
Suellen is the Artistic Director and CEO of JUTE Theatre Company and is one of the founding members of the Company. Suellen is also an actor and director and has extensive experience in the development and direction of new work. Directing credits include: Insignificance, Slave, Demolition Pile Driving Hard Hats and Donkey Dick (Assistant to Hilary Beaton), Black White & Shades of Brown (BWASOB). Her Creative Development and Productions include: Bedtime Stories by Aunty Dee, Dad & I, Fetish and Junk Rooms.
At JUTE, Suellen has directed La Bella Figura, Queenslander, Flutter, Surviving Jonah Salt, Crackle Snap Pop, The Boathouse, Summaris is a Tropical Paradise on Top of a Shoe Factory in Footscray, Victor & Sass, Gods of Spicy Things, Cancelled by Popular Demand, Rosa, At Sea, Staring Up, Soph and the Real World, Half & Half, Propelled, Delirium and Is My Lipstick on Straight. Her skills in large-scale stage direction were demonstrated with the Commonwealth Games celebration community musical production in 2018, ‘Beginnings’. Suellen has also directed and nurtured multiple creative developments within JUTE’s script development programs.
Elizabeth Slattery is a Cairns-based professional actor and voice over artist. She has over 20 years of experience in professional acting work. Elizabeth is a graduate of the National Theatre Drama School and the John Bolton Theatre School in Melbourne and has trained extensively in physical theatre, improvisation, dance and clown.
For over 20 years, she has performed professionally in theatre, TV, film and as a voice artist. She has directed new, co-created work and has devised and staged her own character comedy sketches.
Her theatre credits include; A Winters Tale, Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Lost, Travelling North (Australian tour), Salome, Agamemnon, The Bacchae…to name a few… Her TV credits include: The Pacific, Neighbours and Stingers.
She moved to the regions to reshape her career and is pleased to see that there is a truly vibrant and active artistic community here in Cairns. In 2022 she has worked with JUTE Theatre Company on two programs of development both as a writer and a performer. Elizabeth is also an acting teacher for the JAS Junior program at JUTE.
Kyle Walmsley is a director, performer and theatre maker having created work with companies around Australia including Queensland Arts Council/ArtsLink, Darwin Community Arts, Brown’s Mart, Polyglot, Canberra Youth Theatre, Corrugated Iron Youth Arts (where he was Artistic Program Manager), The Flying Fruit Fly Circus (where he was Associate Artist), and HotHouse Theatre (where he was Creative Learning Producer).
Kyle was a national finalist in ABC’s Raw Comedy Competition. Kyle has trained in clown at Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris, the Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB), the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and the University of Southern Queensland. His solo work has won awards at Darwin Fringe Festival, Newcastle Fringe and a Territory Performing Arts Award.
COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER
Wil’s credits as a composer, songwriter and sound designer for theatre have ranged from contemporary ballet to musicals, and include Tiddas, Single Asian Female, The Dead Devils of Cockle Creek, The Village, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Wind in the Willows (La Boite Theatre Company); Face to Face (Playlab); Arc, Still Life (Australasian Dance Collective); Kill Climate Deniers (That Production Company); Elizabeth I (Monsters Appear/Wonderland Festival); Rice, The Scene Project 2018 (Queensland Theatre); Mind Your Head, From Within, Sonder, B-Sides (Queensland Ballet); Propel (Expressions Dance Company); We Will Not Kiss/Touch/Frighten You in the Dark, Caligula (The Danger Ensemble); The Theory of Everything (Brisbane Festival/Metro Arts); Dust Covered Butterfly (Metro Arts); and Sweet Meniscus (Anywhere Theatre Festival).
Wil is also an internationally acclaimed composer for film, television and other media, and in 2018 was awarded Composer of the Year by the California Independent Film Festival.
SET, PROPS AND SET DESIGNER
Russell Milledge has a research background in creative arts which is expressed through the presentation of exhibitions and events annually. As a multidisciplinary artist he has worked in the performance, dance and visual arts fields. He is represented in the collections of the QAGOMA and Cairns Art Gallery amongst others. He has contributed to the establishment of many of far north Queensland’s significant contemporary arts enterprises and spaces including as a founder of KickArts Contemporary Arts Ltd (now NorthSite), Bonemap and the New Move Network.
Russell attended the National Art School in Sydney, completed a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at Queensland University of Technology and a Doctor of Philosophy at James Cook University. Inspired by the unique social and educational value of the arts, he has contributed to many partnerships within the sector including Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), Cairns Festival, Indigenous Art Centre Alliance, Realtime Magazine, Ausdance, Queensland Artworkers Alliance, Queensland Regional Galleries Association, Eyeline Art Magazine amongst others. Current JCU internal engagement includes TEDxJCUCairns Technical Director, Research Fellow at the Cairns Institute, Tropical Urban Design Lab and Lecturer in Creative Arts specialising in media art.
Current research includes Co-chief Investigator on the innovative State of the Arts Report, a partnership with Cairns Regional Council to undertake a longitudinal evaluation of the social impact of arts and culture in the Cairns region 2018 – 2022.
LIGHTING DESIGNER AND PRODUCTION MANAGER
With a professional career spanning over 20 years, Sam has managed and designed for countless national and international theatre productions / events / festivals / productions in a variety of roles. Sam has worked in a freelance capacity as production manager, event operations manager, technical manager,
technical designer, stage manager, tour manager, technical operator, theme designer, FOH audio engineer, audio monitor engineer and lighting designer.
Sam continues to tour extensively around the country and overseas in a variety of technical, design, tour management and production management roles Sam has worked in a variety of dynamic and challenging venues around Australia. Working on events within the Rainforest to the Sydney Opera House, sometimes working around the clock to ensure nothing but the best outcome is realised.
Sam is currently working on creating an online Technical Production program for JUTE which will become available in 2022 for those wishing to pursue a working knowledge of this exciting and demanding field of theatre work. Sam has worked on over 20 JUTE Theatre Company productions.
Esther Elder is a Central Queensland-based creative and a recent graduate from CQU with a Bachelor of Theatre (Drama) that she obtained while attending the Central Queensland Conservatorium of Music. During her degree, she became a multi-faceted storyteller while developing her skills in technical theatre, performance, and writing for stage.
Esther is a trained actor, singer, and mover – passionate about using voice and body as instruments of storytelling. Australian stories are important to Esther, and she jumps at the chance to be a part of them.
In addition to her performing talents, Esther also demonstrated a keen interest in the technical
aspects of theatre. This led her to take on various roles, such as a sound technician for the
production ‘Safety Circus’ in 2019 and a stage manager for ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Break Down’ in 2020. Through these experiences, Esther gained a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved in bringing a work of theatre to life.
Since graduating she has begun to professionally stage manage all over Australia, including ‘Hymns of the Witching Hour’ at Browns Mart Theatre in Darwin. She is excited to be the stage manager for ‘Higher, Faster Louder’ at JUTE Theatre Company and to continue to learn more about the theatrical world.
From Mamu country in FNQ, Adria Cunningham, is taking on all parts of the theatre industry. As of 2023, the high school graduate has been associated with JUTE Theatre Company, expanding her acting experience and skills as a student in the JUTE Actors Studio Pathways programme.
Under ATYP’s Fresh Ink playwriting programme, facilitated by Kathryn Ash, she’s developing the skills to bring her imagination to life — from head to paper, to stage. And on top of that, is assisting director Matt Scholten in Higher Faster Louder.
With this experience under her belt, Adria aims to further hone her acting skills in the coming years through university, theatre productions and workshops. Hoping one day she can serve the purpose to awe audiences and change perspectives, she’s driven to master this craft.
A challenge is an opportunity, and she feels there are none that wouldn’t benefit her growth.
SOUND DESIGN INTERN
Brennan is currently studying a Diploma of Music at TAFE Queensland in Cairns. Half Caucasian
Australian and half Filipino, he was born and raised in Australia. Growing up, he always knew that he wanted to work with music and things related to audio, but he never knew that sound in theatre was a path he could follow. Being invited to become an intern by JUTE for a one week Creative Development of Higher Faster Louder in 2022, working with award-winning designer, Wil Hughes as his mentor, exposed him to an industry and career that brings together his love for both audio and theatre.
When he finished working on the creative development for Higher Faster Louder, he realised that this was something that he really wanted to learn more about; the idea of helping people bring their stories to life via soundscapes and music. JUTE encouraged him to take the next step and work as a sound designer on youth theatre mainstage co-production with Overall Arts in November 2022, 3 O’Clock Flagpole by Steve Pirie. This experience challenged him but it made him determined that this is the career direction he wants to follow.
Funders, partners and sponsors:
JUTE Theatre Company is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.
“Higher Faster Louder – Production of a New Regional Theatre Work” is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.
Thank you to JCU and Bonemap for the provision of projection equipment.