Contemporary and Applied Theatre students transformed personal stories of women who supported the overseas war effort from home into a performance piece, earlier this semester.
The production, Home Front, was a means of celebrating the Anzac Centennial.
It linked Contemporary and Applied Theatre students with senior women from Brookland Village in Brisbane, who had memories and experiences of WWII, which were far removed from the shores of Gallipoli and the jungles of New Guinea.
The performance saw the community participants work with researchers, artists and student performance makers in a collaborative theatrical space, where the women’s stories were reimagined by the students.
The students spent time interviewing the women during the initial rehearsal process, travelling to Brookland Village.
Two students, Amanda Perk and Nick Smith, felt the stories were essential to share and thoroughly enjoyed the interview process with the women.
“I think their stories are really important. We don’t really hear about what they did as the focus is always on the soldiers at Gallipoli,” Amanda says.
“It was so great talking to them. I feel really privileged they told me all about their families and what they went though, and what they went without,” Nick says.
The women who participated in Home Front shared their experiences of working in munitions factories, driving ambulances for the Americans, racially segregated dances, air raid training, how hard their mothers worked, waiting for their fathers and brothers to come home, and sensing the change in their loved ones if they did return.
Another student Tom Hawthorne loved the women’s stories about the dances.
“As part of our process we learnt some of the dances — old time and jitterbug — which we performed in the show. It was great,” he says.
Likewise, the women thoroughly enjoyed engaging with the students.Read more about the women’s experiences: Interviews with the Brookland Village women.
From the stories shared and interviews conducted, the students worked closely with Directors Sarah Woodland and Brian Lucas to devise the contemporary performance piece.
Sarah says she felt this process was invaluable for all participants.
“The women felt extremely honoured to have had their stories shared in such a creative way. It gave them a strong sense of validation,” she says.
“The intergenerational aspect of it was particularly important to them as they felt their stories were appreciated and were carried forward and shared with a new generation.”
Home Front was developed in a second year level core course within the Contemporary and Applied Theatre Degree.