Agelink Theatre specialises in creating theatrical productions based on oral histories and local research on an area or a chosen topic. Three members of the company will use tape recorders and notation to record reminiscences. Permission to use stories must be granted by the subjects concerned. Likewise we will ascertain if subjects would like their names or family names used in the production.
We may approach a local primary or high school during this period to discuss their involvement in the production if appropriate. We also canvass our oral history subjects in case they would like to appear in some capacity in the production alongside the professional performers.
The project would be in three parts:
Part 1 – Telling Stories
Collection of oral histories from local seniors nominated by a Shire or other organisation, reminiscence workshops in groups (where individual memories can be stimulated by others or by artefacts from the museum), and local research into the history of the area (may provide some independent material, and also assists in verifying dates & facts of events in the oral histories).
Part 2 – Making a Play
Collating the stories and creating a script for production. A theme will not be decided upon until the material has been collated. The writer will weave stories together and create a script that will most likely contain multiple characters (although played by a cast of three or four) and music and song from the periods chosen.
The script will be sent to relevant organisations for comment and revision before production.
Part 3 – Play Time
The rehearsal/performance period generally takes 4 – 6 weeks. The show is a touring show and intended to be performed almost anywhere, usually with very little technical support or set, and always with live music.
Approach to the performance varies from production to production, but we have in the past, if practical, approached a primary school choir from the area to sing a song or two and perhaps play some schoolyard games from the period. This would be rehearsed independently by a teacher at the school if the school was willing. Similarly we have invited high school drama students to enact a small segment of a program and high school social science students to assist in gathering oral histories.
If we are able to locate some local seniors who are comfortable to appear in the production we have on occasion weaved them into the script by way of “onstage interviews”. This way they can tell their story in order to augment the stories played out onstage.
Although the final script may contain poignant as well as humorous stories, times of hardship as well as good times, it is always intended that the program will be a celebration of the people interviewed and their lives.
Our motto is that memories nourish the soul. We have also found that not only do seniors feel greatly affirmed and valued by having their stories told, but children and students learn a great deal about their local history and feel pride in their district. Naturally the intergenerational aspect of the program assists in a greater respect and understanding in the community. There is always a connection between the past and the present, and by understanding more of our past we assist in planning for our future.