Ballarat play finds lost hearts in the outback

Highway of Lost Hearts is on at the M.A.D.E Theatre on Saturday.
Highway of Lost Hearts is on at the M.A.D.E Theatre on Saturday.


What: Highway of Lost Hearts

Where: M.A.D.E Theatre, Stawell Street

When: Saturday, August 2, 7.30pm

Tickets: $12-$40

WHEN your heart goes missing, what lengths would you go to in order to find it?

That's the question behind Mary Ann Butler's Highway of Lost Hearts.

Mot awakes one morning to find her heart is missing from her chest. She can breath, she has a pulse, but she feels nothing.

With her dog, her campervan and 4500 kilometres of open road, she heads off in search of her missing heart.

As she journeys into the deepest core of the Australian outback, navigating through fire and flood, vast salt lakes and murky waters filled with lost souls, she realises that everyone around her also seems to be missing some vital part of themselves.

After travelling through the centre of Australia, Ms Butler said death was everywhere, bleeding from the roadside carcasses and eking out of the think red dust, meeting strange people who seemed broken. This journey became the story behind her narrative Highway of Lost Hearts.

"I drove from Darwin to Sydney in 2009 and was staggered by the harsh beauty of this outback landscape, also by the people I met along the way." she said.

"In small towns people really looked after each other, and people would spend hours talking, communicating and telling stories.

"Sometimes I think the cities have lost this, we're always so busy commuting from point a to point b.

"I loved that out here people came first. The necessity of pulling together in order to survive was really apparent."

She said the story behind her narrative was an allegory for a country that had a lost heart.

"When I left Darwin, I was broken. In the space of a few years, I had lost both parents, a good friend, a marriage and my beloved dog." she said.

"As I drove down the highway, I realised that a lot of people along the way were also broken. I wasn't alone.

"I felt that maybe individuals become broken because this country's governments and policies fail to nurture our diverse communities.

She said theatre lovers and drama students would enjoy the Australian play that was more than just a road trip, and instead looked at the human journey of a woman trying to re-gain the pieces of her heart, and with it, her will to move on.

Highway of Lost Hearts is on at the M.A.D.E Theatre on Saturday.

Highway of Lost Hearts is on at the M.A.D.E Theatre on Saturday.

"Highway of Lost Hearts has belly-laughing humour balanced with pathos as a naive, city-dwelling Mot tries to navigate the vast Australian outback," she said.

"Mot gets a lot of things horribly wrong, and gets herself into all kinds of dodgy situations with

strange outback characters.

"Through all this she has her dog  who brings her back to earth repeatedly, and saves her once or twice.

"The audience just love the sense of the dog in the play, and the dog provides a lot of laughs.

"But then, as the character of Mot in Highway of Lost Hearts discovers, the way to heal is through personal connection, so ultimately she finds hope; and gets her heart back."

The Courier will email the winner of the double pass for Highway of Lost Hearts on Tuesday, August 29.