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01 June 2017

First Seen 2017: Homesong

Homesong composed by James Humberstone, libretto by Nigel Featherstone.

I want you, emptiness, like I’ve wanted to slip and slide between the legs of a lush – find me then try me to sleep.

A professional soldier is returning from serving in Afghanistan to spend time on the family farm – he has a terrible secret, but so do his parents and his high-school lover.  A song cycle set in present-day Australia, from various perspectives the narrative explores and reveals what we hide, and why, and how we find absolution.


Nigel Featherstone – Librettist

Nigel Featherstone is an Australian writer of adult fiction. He is the author of three thematically linked but standalone novellas: The Beach Volcano (Blemish Books, 2014), which won a Canberra Critics Circle award, I’m Ready Now (Blemish Books, 2012), which was short-listed for both the 2013 ACT Book of the Year award and the 2013 ACT Writing and Publishing Award for Fiction; and Fall on Me (Blemish Books, 2011), which won the 2012 ACT Writing and Publishing Award for Fiction. Nigel’s novel Remnants (Pandanus Books, 2005) was published to acclaim, as was his story collection Joy (2000). He is also the author of nearly 50 stories published in Australian literary journals, including three times in the Australian Review of Fiction. Between 2007 and 2015 he was a frequent contributor to Panorama, the weekend magazine of the Canberra Times, and the Fairfax Media network more broadly; he has also written for Australian Book Review, Capital, and The Millions. In 2015 Nigel was commissioned by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium to write the libretto for an original 12-song cycle, which is being composed by James Humberstone from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Nigel has been awarded residencies at Varuna (Blue Mountains) and Bundanon (Shoalhaven River); in 2013 he was a Creative Fellow at UNSW Canberra/Australian Defence Force Academy. For more information, please visit

James Humberstone – Composer

James Humberstone's compositions are influenced by his research background in experimental music, and his interest in composing for children and community ensembles. Born in London, Humberstone migrated to Australia in 1997 after completing a degree in composition at the University of Exeter. His honours thesis was on the music of Howard Skempton, with whom Humberstone studied briefly after graduating. Humberstone has often cited Skempton as his greatest influence.

By combining postgraduate studies in composition and experimental music with education qualifications and an 11 year residency at Sydney's MLC School, Humberstone developed an approach to combining new and challenging music for children with supporting resources, and continued to extend his experimental research and practice. He also combined knowledge about technology gained through nearly a decade at Sibelius Software with his compositional and education experience, and has become a leading authority in this field, publishing and regularly speaking at conferences internationally. In 2013 Humberstone completed his PhD and was appointed Lecturer in Music Education at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Today he works in the fields of composition, music education and technology research, as well as experimental music.


Director: Caroline Stacey

Accompanist: Alan Hicks

Baritone: Tristan Entwistle



More information

Ever wondered about the steps a writer takes to develop works for the theatre? Or how new plays and performance works are chosen for upcoming seasons?

The ever popular FIRST SEEN: new works-in-progress offers Canberra audiences the opportunity to be part of our creative process helping The Street  progress performance works to production-ready stage. First Seen offers a unique insight into development and is a vital part of our planning for future years as we seek to bring original and diverse Canberra stories to the stage.

Each writer has a dedicated workshop offering time, space, support, and expertise.  Canberra audiences (that's you) are given the opportunity to participate in the development process through the public showings where we open up the floor for a conversation with playwright, director, dramaturg and the actors. By sharing your thoughts with the creative teams you help assist us progress the works to production and get a sneak peek into Canberra’s ingenious artistic community.

Public Showing:

Thursday 1st June, 5pm

Street Three

All tickets $15 include glass of wine or hot beverage.

15 Childers St,

City West ACT 2601

Directions & Map

Monday - Friday

10am - 3pm


Also opens

1.5 hours prior

to performance.


02 6247 1223
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