Lightning Ridge: The Black Queen Experience

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“Outback theatre with a twist,” says the flyer for Black Queen, with a picture of an oil lamp and a woman with a mysterious look. I didn’t really anticipate that this opal mining town would exactly have a bustling theatre community, but there it is.

This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. Unfortunately The Black Queen experience has permanently closed. I

And being an actor/singer/dancer, of course my interests are piqued.
We drive along one of the five guided tours through Lightning Ridge, through old mining settlements. The white sandstone gravel roads weave in and out of this small off-grid community, and without the red car door signs leading the way, we would most certainly be lost by now.

After driving by rusted out trailers and toilets and cars and whatnot, my hopes for a genuine theatrical experience wane. I must admit there’s a sort of artistic beauty to an old car with about 12 cats milling on and around it, surrounded by flat white ground with sandstone piles everywhere. But I’m busy dashing my hopes of seeing a real show so I try not to be too taken with this unique scenery.

Pulling up to Black Queen, though, re-engages my imagination right away. The property, located on the very edge of Lightning Ridge, is charming and unique. The walls of the three cottages that make up this home are made of bottles, stones, and hand-mixed cement, and the surrounding property is filled with old signs about the Black Queen, monuments, and various little surprises for anybody looking hard enough.

We are immediately met by Gail, who is our fearless leader in this piece of outback theatre with a twist. I look over at the other four people joining us for the show, and think “Eek! Awkward. Doing a show for only six people? And I can only imagine how strange it would be if we were just two.”
But as we settle into the first cottage, and the first act, I realize that she can’t fit in many more people than what we have. We are almost a full house. And I also realize that we are actually sitting in the set. This theatre does have a twist indeed.

We have some incredible pictures of the Black Queen, along with the rest of this story, over at the World Nomads Journal here. Check it out!

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