Getting mucky with McNirt Hates Dirt at Awesome Festival

Ashton Malcolm as Gerty.
Ashton Malcolm as Gerty.

DIRT and exploration isn’t just for boys – girls can be mucky free spirits too.

That’s the message in the tender and funny children’s performance McNirt Hates Dirt, showing at the Awesome festival next week.

The story follows clean freak McNirt and his best friend and grime enthusiast Gerty, played by Adelaide actor Ashton Malcolm.

“I feel that often in plays the women have to play the straight character and the quite serious one, so we really wanted to go the other way with this and have the girl, Gerty, be the messy adventurous one,” Malcolm said.

“It’s really important for me to show everyone – especially young girls – that they can be the adventurous spirits as well.

“We’ve spoken to lots of teachers and adults along the way and noticed that a lot of kids, not just the girls, were starting to become a little trepidatious about getting out there and giving things a go and making mistakes and getting a bit muddy and messy, so this show is gently trying to say that in moderation these things are actually really great.”

Malcolm and her fellow actors, together with writer-artist Miranda Hampton, created the show for the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2015.

“It was just a little Fringe show that captured people in a way we weren’t expecting,” Malcolm said.

“It’s really exciting to have something go on that you have poured so much of yourself into and that you really believe in – as an actor you don’t always have that opportunity.”

As much as the story centres on the joy of getting grubby, it also focuses on friendship.

“I hope kids leave the show feeling empowered to embrace things a bit more in their lives; maybe get out there in the dirt and do some gardening, learn a bit more about where different plants and animals come from but also to learn about friendship,” Malcolm said.

“Hopefully they see the compromises involved in friendship and that you need to nurture your friendships, even when you might have quite different ideas and opinions.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: McNirt Hates Dirt

When: October 1-6

Where: The Seagull Tent, Perth Cultural Centre

Tickets: www.trybooking.com