For the three nights leading up to ANZAC Day, Kulin’s outdoor war memorial came alive as over 260 people from across WA experienced the stories of men and women from Kulin, who found themselves coming to terms with the outbreak of World War One.
The original theatre experience “And tell Mum…” was the creation of Perth based Scooplight Theatre, who in partnership with the Shire of Kulin, retold the impact WW1 had on their lives and their newly established farming community.
The experience was based on official and personal historical records and recollections of the people who were living in and around Kulin before, during and immediately after the war. Thank you to those who donated personal mementos and shared their stories, community members who attended the research workshop and those who have assisted in research.
This is the third time the Shire of Kulin has partnered with Scooplight Theatre. In 2013 & 2014, Kulin delivered the highly successful ‘Kulin Open Doors’ and ‘Kulin by Night’ heritage theatre experiences, which were named Winner of the 2014 WA Heritage Award for Outstanding Heritage Tourism Product. It was during these shows that the idea for "And tell Mum…”came about.
In ‘Kulin by Night’ there was a touching scene where local boy Stan Bull and postman, Fred Johnson crossed paths in Kulin’s street. Stan only realised in this scene that he in fact did not physically make it back from the war, and that Fred is on his way to deliver the dreaded telegram to his family. We discovered more stories that had a direct connection to WW1 and although we were able to only briefly touch on one of these in ‘Kulin by Night", a wealth of other stories and characters had been put aside.
There was Jack Magee the teenage farm-boy determined to enlist even though he is under-age; the local German storekeeper Mr Hessen who overnight became an enemy alien; the postman Fred Johnson who delivered the telegrams with the news no-one wanted to hear; the women who took on the work of the men; Stan Bull the young soldier who never returned but left behind a deeply personal journal of his experience, and the mother who lost her son Irven McIness plus many more!
A small exhibition of Kulin WW1 memorabilia will remain on display at the Shire of Kulin until Tuesday 31st May 2016. Thank you to all those who have contributed items and images to the exhibition. A special thanks also went to the professional, highly acclaimed musicians Anthony and Andrew, who generously travelled from Melbourne to take part in the production and added such a special element to the shows.
The show was also filmed by Black Cyclone and DVD copies of the performance will be available for purchase from the shire of Kulin over the coming months.
“And Tell Mum…” was proudly supported by Lotterywest, Western Australian History Foundation, Kulin Bush Races, Kulin RSL, Kulin Community Bank and Black Cyclone Film and Production. The production was also part of the 2016 National Trust Heritage Festival Discovery and Rediscoveries, a national celebration of heritage.
Image: The “And tell Mum…” production in action.