Following on from International Women’s Day, CHATS celebrates Coffs Coast women in theatre

Photo, The cast of Steel Magnolias with Director Donna Fairall. Photo: supplied.


COFFS Harbour Amateur Theatrical Society (CHATS) returns to the stage on Friday 19 March with their production of ‘Steel Magnolias’, a story of love, courage and support amongst a small group of women in America’s midwest.

Having farewelled the groups late matriarch and feminist inspiration Shirley Barnett on Monday 15 March, CHATS is proud to continue its strong tradition of celebrating and supporting local women.

Shirley wrote and directed shows including ‘Trojan Women’, ‘Mum’s the Word’ and ‘Mum’s the Word Teenagers’ as well as ‘The Invisible Woman’, all with strong messages about women and their empowerment.

The group also supported local writers Kelly McLoughlin-Wilden and Penny Dennis to write and produce their own plays on the Jetty Memorial Theatre stage.

Prior to the pandemic, CHATS also sponsored two younger women to attend weekend courses in Direction and Stage Management at NIDA in Sydney, and plans to continue this by sending two more women this year once it is feasible.

This new production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ showcases the talents and abilities of the six actors on stage, but also those of Director Donna Fairall, Stage Manager Sharon Tomlinson, as well as an all-female stage crew.

CHATS committee member Chatel Thorn said, “Steel Magnolias is still such a relevant show, especially with everything going on right now in the women’s rights movement it’s more important than ever to see such a poignant and touching piece of theatre about sisterhood.

“A show for everyone, that is centred around women telling their own stories, and supporting one another through thick and thin, it’s a wonderful display of what womanhood can mean.

“CHATS is dedicated to telling diverse stories and giving many different groups their time to shine on stage and this show is a wonderful illustration of that.”

‘Steel Magnolias’ opens Friday 19 March and runs until Sunday 28 March.

Tickets are available at the JMT on 6648 4930 Tuesday through to Friday 12 noon to 4pm or go to


By David TUNE

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