Drought and other Plays – Gunning programme

Music Theatre Projects Presents

“Drought and Other Plays by Millicent Armstrong”

At Dusk
Jim: Christopher Samuel Carroll | Amy: Heather Keens | Lily: Holly Ross

Isabel: Zsuzsi Soboslay | Dorothy: Caroline Simone O’Brien |
Mrs MacFarlane: Heather Keens | George: Christopher Samuel Carroll | Mary: Holly Ross | Thomas: (pre-recorded) Christopher Samuel Carroll


Penny Dreadful
Henry Wilberforce: Christopher Samuel Carroll | Jenny: Holly Ross |
Jim: Craig Alexander | Isabel: Caroline Simone O’Brien |
Mrs Angus: Zsuzsi Soboslay | Maggie: Heather Keens

Joe: Craig Alexander | Ellie: Holly Ross

All plays written by: Millicent Armstrong
Director/producer: Dianna Nixon
Stage Manager: Sam Barrett
Sound Operator: Kyle Sheedy

Soundtrack design and production: Stephen Lindsay (Old Binda Road Studios, Crookwell) in collaboration with Dianna Nixon
Soundtrack voice recordings: Dianna Nixon, Dean Mounsey
Soundtrack piano recording: Dianna Nixon (fragment of On The Promenade by Madeline Rossiter, 1886 – 1964)
Script transcription and editing: Dianna Nixon

As part of the Goulburn Performing Arts Centre’s Festival of Regional Theatre (FORT), this production is supported by the NSW Government through its Reconnecting Regional NSW Community Events Program.
Dianna Nixon has received support from the NSW Government through Create NSW for her work as director and creative producer on this project.
Music Theatre Projects work on this project is also supported by the Cullerin Wind Farm Trust/EDL (devolved through Upper Lachlan Shire Council) and by the Country Arts Support Program, a devolved funding program administered by Southern Tablelands Arts on behalf of the NSW Government, and by the Upper Lachlan Foundation, our first follower.

Thank you to the Music Theatre Projects Ltd board members:
Amanda Day, David Pearson, John McDonald, Dianna Nixon (Managing Director)

For additional info on this and other MTP projects, check out our website:


Millicent Sylvia Armstrong
(excerpt from the Australian Dictionary of Biography)

Millicent Armstrong, playwright and farmer, was born on 1 May 1888 at Waverley, Sydney, fourth daughter of William Harvey Armstrong, a merchant from Ireland, and his Tasmanian-born wife Jeanie, née Williams. Millicent was educated at Shirley, Woollahra, matriculated in French and Latin in 1905, followed her sisters Ina Beatrice and Helen Daphne to the University of Sydney (B.A., 1910) and graduated with first-class honours in English. Millicent’s interest in literature had been revealed when she wrote a story for Theatre magazine under the nom de plume, ‘Emily Brown’. She left Australia for London in August 1914 with the intention of finding a publisher for her first novel, but was almost immediately involved in war-work.

From 1916 Millicent was attached as an orderly to a unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service and worked from March 1917 at the ancient Abbaye de Royaumont, Asnières-sur-Oise, France. She was sent to the advance hospital at Villers-Cotterets, Aisne, which was taken over by the French military and became Hôpital Auxiliaire d’Armées No.30. There she first experimented with drama. Written partly in English and partly in French, and solely as entertainment for the wounded, her pantomimes, melodramas and variety shows were performed by staff and some of the casualties, using makeshift props and costumes. In the face of the German advance in May 1918, the hospital was evacuated to Royaumont: Miss Armstrong was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her bravery in rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire.

In 1921 she made an application under the Returned Soldiers Settlement Act and was granted title to 1028 acres (416 ha) with a capital value of over £2600 near Gunning on land previously owned by Ina’s husband Leo Watson of Wollogorang. Helen acquired an adjoining block.

During her early years in the country Millicent completed at least three one-act plays which were based on her experiences: Fire gained third place in the Sydney Daily Telegraph competition of 1923; Drought was awarded the 1923 Rupert Brooke prize of £25, was performed in London and won a prize in 1934 from the International One-Act Play Theatre; At Dusk appeared in 1937 in a collection of Australian one-act plays. Two other plays, Thomas and Penny Dreadful, both drawing-room dramas, were published with Drought in a selection of her work in 1958.

After Helen’s death in 1939, Millicent became a grazier at Kirkdale, Yarra; by 1953 she was living in Goulburn. She died in a local hospital on 18 November 1973 and was cremated with Anglican rites.


Christopher Samuel Carroll is an actor, writer and director from Ireland, who trained at The Samuel Beckett Centre, Dublin, and Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Paris. As artistic director of Bare Witness Theatre Co., he has produced ten shows, winning a reputation for raw, pulsating theatre that ignites the imagination. Recent work has included dancing in the award-winning MESS at Belco Arts; directing and mentoring the devised work, Carpe DM for Canberra Youth Theatre’s Emerge Company; and a solo adaptation of The Stranger by Albert Camus at Gorman Arts Centre. 2022 saw a production of his play about the dark arts of marketing, Smokescreen, at The Q. He recently appearing at the Street Theatre in Yasmina Reza’s Art.

Heather Keens studied at Royal College of Music, London, has a Masters in Voice Studies from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and a Masters in Music Research from Macquarie University. Heather has performed internationally in opera, theatre, music theatre, TV, radio and concerts, with: Pavilion Opera, Lumiere and Son Theatre Company, Three Choirs Festival, New English Opera, Channel 4 & BBC TV and Artichoke Productions UK, Calculated Risks Opera, The Australian Opera, The Sydney Metropolitan Opera, The Lyric Opera of Queensland, ABC TV and the Queensland Theatre Company, in Australia. Heather works as a singing examiner for the AMEB Music Theatre and Singing exams, ACT and NSW. She is currently a PhD student at Macquarie University, NSW.

Caroline Simone O’Brien is an actor, writer, director, puppeteer & coach. A graduate of Actors Centre Australia, The Groundlings, Second City, UCB and an accredited acting coach with Ivana Chubbuck, she’s worked across Australia, Europe & the USA. Credits include the US West Coast premiere of A Time to Kill, A Streetcar Named Desire, Dancing at Lughnasa, SMIFF award winning Puppet Life 1 & 2 (Amazon), Locks of Love (Screen Australia), HIMPFF award winning FELT HELP, and Prime Possum (7Network), as well as numerous projects at The Street in Canberra. She directed Shakespeare for inner city kids in Los Angeles and recently supported the Youth Arts Program in Papua New Guinea.

Holly Ross performed in Music Theatre Projects’s first staged reading of Millicent Armstrong – Playwright & Farmer at the 2021 Gunning Arts Festival. In 2020, Holly appeared in Canberra Youth Theatre’s production of Normal at the Canberra Theatre Playhouse. Other credits include One Man, Two Guv’nors (Canberra Repertory Theatre), Oh! What a Lovely War (Canberra Repertory Theatre), Catch Me If You Can (Dramatic Productions), and Hand To God, a dark comedy produced by Everyman Theatre at ACTHUB. In 2014, Holly won the ACT Government’s Audrey Fagan Young Woman’s Enrichment Grant, which supported her to pursue acting development and training opportunities with the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). Holly is studying Linguistics through the University of New England.

Craig Alexander is an actor, writer, film and theatre maker, with a BA (Honours) in Acting from CSU. He co-founded Riverina based Gearstick Theatre, and led as Artistic Director for almost ten years. Stage credits: St Nicholas, Exclusion, Venus in Fur, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, and Art at The Street; and Wolf Lullaby for Echo Theatre at The Q. Recent screen credits: Murder In The Outback (Channel 7/Beyond), Invited (Berger-Alexander, Best Actor CSFF 2021), The Photographer (The Horse You Rode In On Media, Best Actor CSFF 2019) Dirt (Next In Line Films, Best Actor Fleurieue Film Fest 2018 ), several national TVC campaigns, and Trainee Bomb Squad. He’s currently developing a feature length comedy/thriller based on Louis Stevenson’s The Body Snatchers.

Zsuzsi Soboslay is an actor, writer, researcher, director and movement consultant. Theatre credits include: The Story of the Oars (The Street Theatre – director), the immersive Anthems and Angels (The Street) and The Compassion Plays (Gorman Arts Centre – director/writer/performer), The Portrait Piper for the National Portrait Gallery; L’Optimisme on the life of Jane Avril for the National Gallery of Australia (performer/deviser), and, for The Street, actor in The Chain Bridge and Under Milk Wood, librettist for Capital, and movement consultant for Cold Light. Her co-direction of Synergy Percussions’ performance of Yiannis Xenakis’ Pleiades suite (Angel Place, Sydney) was awarded the ABC Limelight Award for Best Concert, 2011.

Stephen Lindsay is a recording engineer, producer and songwriter, founder of independent recording label Oceanic Records (2007), and owner-operator of the residential recording studio Old Binda Road Recording Studios based in Crookwell. He has been a Finalist for Film Scoring in the world’s largest short film Festival, Tropfest (Bounce 2011), and has mentored and recorded young artists for various TV vocal competitions. In 2007, Stephen was invited to Abbey Road for a recording of his song Bellbird by the London Philharmonia Orchestra. In 2011, Stephen was one of nine composers worldwide chosen by Abbey Road Studios to help celebrate the legendary studio’s 80th Birthday with his song A Million Stars recorded by The London Symphony Orchestra for special release.

Dianna Nixon, a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, has built a unique practice over 40 years, combining her skills as pianist, singer, actor, director and producer. Prior to arriving in the ACT region in 2004, she worked around Australia on projects for major festivals, for state opera and theatre companies, and in community cultural development. As performer Dianna has worked in cabaret, on TV, corporate work, theatre, music theatre and opera, and is an experienced ballet accompanist. Dianna has directed over 60 works. Awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2012 for her work with the developing voice, Dianna runs a voice and piano studio out of a purpose-built studio in Dickson, ACT. Voice and accent coaching includes many shows at The Street, Canberra, as well as coaching for choirs, opera choruses, theatre companies and on film projects. Dianna has also worked on many film projects – mainly short films and documentaries – as producer, director, musician and actor.


Music Theatre Projects is managed from a home base on Gundungurra country.

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of NSW, and all Aboriginal Elders, past, present and emerging.

We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters of New South Wales, and their continuing cultural, spiritual customs and practices.