world premiere: somebody’s daughter theatre company presents she swallowed that lie

Created and performed by women with a lived prison experience and marginalised young people from regional Victoria accompanied by a stunning visual art exhibition of works created by women in Victorian prisons.

Chapel Off Chapel, 25– 27 August 2022

Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company presents the premiere of She Swallowed that Lie – a unique Australian theatre production created and performed in collaboration with women who have lived prison experience and marginalised youth from regional Victoria. Playing at Chapel Off Chapel from 25 – 27 August, it is the story of eight gutsy women and their life inside prison to life outside, told with a dash of humour and loads of heart.

Weaving original music, dance and song into the storyline, She Swallowed that Lie is an uplifting and inspirational insight into the resilience of these brave performers, uniquely capturing the stories and voices of women who have experienced the cycles that lead to incarceration.

She Swallowed that Lie is centred around the characters of Charlie and Baylee, both of whom are 18 years old and have grown up way too fast and seen way too much for ones so young. They are heading for a fall. A motley bunch of ‘been there, done thats’ rally around them hoping they hold them long enough to avoid the system.

Including 25-year-old Alek, who is moving to St Kilda from Geelong to be closer to work but is shocked to learn that barely anyone looks like her and Phoenix, who is trying to rise from the ashes having just been unexpectedly refused parole. Rather than wallow, she is determined to be reunited with her children.

Then there’s the elder stateswomen. Paulie is approaching 60 and has been out of the big house for over a decade yet is still struggling to feel at home, and 64-year-old Therese isn’t chasing rainbows she just wants to be let back in. The simple things in life – a home, work and friends – elude her.

“You don’t often hear stories like this, they are often thrown to the side, you don’t get to hear them and experience the importance of them,” said performer Hayley, who with her fellow castmembers and creatives devised the work.

“I was inferior. I was a thief. I was a junkie. I was a whore. I was despised. I disappeared. I offended and re-offended, and learnt the word recidivist. I am a woman.

When I joined Somebody’s Daughter on the inside I had nothing to lose. Ultimately everything would be gained. I sat in a circle of women, who just like me had some incredibly sad tale. It was the same grim episode in this real life “Prisoner”. A story of pain, self-harm, addiction, sexual abuse and hopelessness. It was of homelessness and lost children.

…had I have not gone to prison I would never have been introduced to the arts. For once in my life I had people feeling what I felt, and seeing what I saw. I was able to express my fears, my dreams, my grief and my remorse, yes I had remorse,” said performer, Cath.

Accompanying the theatre work, is a visual art exhibition showcasing extraordinary works from women currently in Victorian prisons and retrospective works dating back to 2000.

SEASON DETAILS: She Swallowed that Lie

Dates: 25 – 27 August 2022
Times: Thursday 25 August: 7pm
Friday 26 August: 7pm
Saturday 27 August: 2pm & 7pm
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel
12 Little Chapel St, Prahran

Tickets: $30 standard
$12 Concession
$12 Child
$14 Groups (6+)

Duration: 80-minutes (no interval)
Warnings: Coarse language & theatrical haze. This performance is suitable for ages 11+


Kharen Harper: Director/Writer/Performer
Justin Holland: Musical Director
Sam Reed: Digital Media Artist
Kgshak Akec: Artist/Performer
Maria Fillipow and Lisa Callwell: Co-curators
Maud Clark: Artistic Director /CEO


Cath: Performer/Deviser

“Released to freedom without a guide…

I had participated in more than one performance in Dame Phyllis Frost Centre Prison (DPFC).

Most importantly it was my introduction to professional writing* to telling my story. Telling my side of the story. I enjoyed creative collaboration, no longer an island or a stranger.

I found a tribe, artistic, nurturing, and a desire to speak my truth… I learnt to do it well.

*Cath is a published writer of a number of small works and articles and her aim is to publish a book.

‘Paulie’ (Character)

Paulie is a stranger too! An observer, tramping about St. Kilda – a suburb gentrified yet deeply ingrained into its culture is a seedy, dark abyss. A landing strip for the homeless, the poor, the neglected. Paulie recognises much of her younger self in Baylee and Charlie, and like the ‘dirty old pigeons she feeds she makes a comparison with the cruelty afforded to the pigeons and neglect of our pigeons, young people, helpless…
Paulie wants to change the trajectory of their lives and add meaning to her own life.

Hayley: Performer/Deviser

Hayley is a proud Palawa Woman. She first became part of Somebody’s Daughter Theatre (SDT) in 2016 when she enrolled in Nobody’s Fool Theatre, SDT’s offspring company. During that time she completed Year 12 and performed in four major plays, including Submit She Whispers 2017; Geelong after Dark 2018, 2019 and most recently When the Light Went Walking 2021 as well as multiple conference performances for schools, health workers and the wider community. She is very passionate about the arts and performing, she enjoys the thrill of being able to perform and tell her story alongside others who have experienced the same if not similar to her. She enjoys the whole process from beginning to end and absolutely loves the positive feedback from the audience members and people who are’affected’ by the play.

‘Charlie’ (character)

Charlie is a young, 18 year-old girl finding her way in the world. Charlie lives in a residential unit, but doesn’t want that to be the only life she knows – she fights what life throws at her while trying to stay on the right path.She gets stuck in a spiral that is circling her on to the wrong path.

Charlie finds herself stuck in the life and surroundings of a ‘trap house’. She is blinded and can’t see a way out. It takes the love and support of others to see the other side of life and to open her eyes to the possibilities of change before she spirals to the end.

ALIX: Performer/Deviser

My name is Alix Frost and I first joined Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company in 2019 whilst serving a sentence at Dame Phyills Frost Centre. It started when I first saw a show whilst in prison and it had a profound effect on me and for that moment in prison all women came together, all differences and politics in the yard were pushed aside. Going to drama group took me away from the prison environment and gave me purpose for the first time in many years. Although it was challenging I soon discovered that it wasn’t all about acting. I was given a platform to tell my story in my words. I gained confidence in myself, my self esteem grew and my dream of acting ever since I was a child was brought to life. After doing the first play inside I was given a rare opportunity to perform at a corrections conference at the MCG. There was no stopping me there and now I am in the post release program where Somebody’s Daughter Theatre continue to support and empower me through theatre.

‘PHOENIX’ (Character)

In “She swallowed that lie” my character Phoenix starts off in prison. After taking full advantage of the prison system by doing all she can to self improve and rehabilitate herself she is finally ready for parole…. then a setback occurs. She is faced with an enormous challenge and battle that she has to overcome, not only with the correctional system and is tested within herself on how she handles the hurdles thrown her way. Phoenix is an example how the system can work if one has the support that is needed to overcome life’s challenges. How the story ends……? Well, come to the show and you will see!

KGSHAK AKEC: Performer/Deviser

Kgshak is an early career writer and artist in performing and community arts. She has always found herself drawn to projects and ideas that challenge perception and go against the grain of tradition whilst being centred in truth.
As a Sudanese-Australian woman, Kgshak feels most compelled to tell stories that don’t traditionally get told, seen or heard; through the art of spoken and written word, movement and song.

Kgshak has performed with Somebody’s Daughter in ‘Unapologetically Myself’ (2018 & 2019) and ‘Miss, It Appears We’ve Hit Some Turbulence’ (2019 & 2020).
Winner of the Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript 2021 – ‘Hopeless Kingdom’

Digitally published works: 2016-2018 – ‘HB’: Book 1 – 195,000+ readers; ‘As We Are’: Book 2 – 42,000+ readers

Storyfest Writing Competition 2019 – Coordinated a region-wide writing competition
Languages – English, Arabic, Dinka

‘ALEK’ (character)

My character Alek – (named after the Sudanese model Alek Wek who took off and threw her peroxide blonde wig on the runway after she was forced to wear it).
At the start of the play we find her living in Geelong but looking to move to St Kilda because of her new job as a diversity officer. Upon her arrival in St Kilda Alek is troubled to find that there is no one around that looks like her. Feeling alone and away from her tribe triggers Alek to reflect on what it is to be a young black sudanese woman in St Kilda where she is both overseen and unseen.

She Swallowed That Lie Devised by the Cast and Artists of SDTC.


Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company’s (SDTC) has a 40-year history of working with the most disadvantaged, commencing in 1981 with a play that was taken into Fairlea Women’s Prison. The impact on the women inmates was so strong that the provision of an ongoing drama program was requested by the women themselves. SDTC’s work with women in prison continues to this day and has extended to working with women post release and with vulnerable communities throughout Victoria – particularly at-risk young people.

SDTC’s artistic methodology is recognised as a powerful instrument for motivating change both personal and systemic, cultivating connections, offering new insights into society, stimulating social/cultural discussion and inclusion.

In 2000, SDTC began working with marginalised young people in regional settings, which led to the ground-breaking arts led partnership with Education and Health called “HighWater”. This award-winning program targeted disadvantaged youth who were ‘school refusers’ and ran for 16 years. For the last six years SDTC has been leading ‘Nobody’s Fool Theatre’ in Geelong, also with outstanding results. It has been used as a model of intervention for a number of programs.

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