Classic Storytelling and Contemporary Theatre Merge in Thylacine Tale

They Saw a Thylacine, opening tomorrow night at The Butter Factory Theatre is described as ‘an enchanting and poetic story … storytelling at its best’ and a ‘timely reminder that we’re all in the same fight to survive’.

The award winning play runs until Saturday, 7 May with matinee performances on Thursday, 5 May at 11 am and Saturday 7 May at 3pm. Friday night’s performance features a ‘Meet the Artist’ opportunity.

Written and performed by Sarah Hamilton and Justine Campbell, who together form the artistic partnership HUMAN ANIMAL EXCHANGE, They Saw a Thylacine tells the stories of Alison Reid – the daughter of the last curator at Beaumaris Zoo and Beatrice McCullough – a trapper hunting the rare animal.

The two founded HUMAN ANIMAL EXCHANGE in 2011 and the company has successfully produced three shows, two that have toured nationally and internationally.

Sarah Hamilton told The Border Mail’s, John Chanter, that the play is ‘like sitting around a campfire with someone who tells you a really engaging story you don’t want to end.’

They Saw a Thylacine was first performed at Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2013, and in 2014 toured to the Adelaide Fringe Festival and New Zealand. In 2015 it was re-envisaged for a season at the Malthouse Theatre Melbourne before its current national tour that finishes with the seven show season at HotHouse Theatre.

Although Beatrice McCullough is a fictional character, Alison Reid is well documented through her efforts to save the last Thylacine, (Tasmanian Tiger) in captivity.

The play brings the audience’s attention to the fragility of our ecosystem and the unsettling truths about how small acts of ignorance can cause great destruction to current and future generations.

They Saw a Thylacine has particular resonance for Hamilton whose grandfather had an encounter with a drowned thylacine on a beach across the road from where they lived.

‘The regaling of Grandpa’s encounter with the Tassie Tiger was imbued with mystery and a sense of great importance,’ Hamilton said.

Hamilton and Campbell said the stories they had written were based on truth.

‘Beatie’s account is based on a collection of anecdotes and documented histories: the events surrounding Alison Reid and the last thylacine at Beaumaris Zoo are a truthful and tragic lesson.’

HotHouse Theatre Artistic director, Lyn Wallis said the show was a wonderful merging of classic storytelling and contemporary theatre.

‘The performers Sarah and Justine effortlessly draw you into an adventure story that is framed by injustice and tragedy for both the women characters and the thylacine itself,’ Ms Wallis said.

Thylacine is wry, moving and personal. It questions our relationship with nature, and how and why we obliterated an entire species, both willfully and methodically. It’s hard not to be touched by the lessons it holds for our future,’ she said.

There are generous discounts for group bookings and concessions.


Opening Night
$59 Full | $53 Concession | $40 Student

$49 Full | $43 Concession | $30 Student

Friday Night
$54 Full | $48 Concession | $35 Student

10 + $31 each | 6 + $33 each | 4+ $36.50 each

Further savings when you book a Flexi Pack 4. Book on 02 6021 7433 or here

We also have our Mother’s Day Flexi Pack 4 offer including four drink vouchers.  Phone 02 6021 7433 for more details.

Image credit: Justine Campbell (l) and Sarah Hamilton (r) in a scene from They Saw a Thylacine. Pia Johnson