Talk from the Town: The Narrogin Elders Project
– Jon Solmundson, Country Arts WA
One of the arts’ greatest wonders is its ability to bring different people together to make something truly moving and original. In Narrogin, the young, the old and the in between created an awesome storytelling project that gave old yarns new life.
Talk of the Town: The Narrogin Elders Project came out of the community’s keen awareness that the memories, wisdom and tales of the town’s older generation were one day going to be lost – and for the most part they hadn’t been recorded.
It is a realisation which is all too common across much of WA. Ask any local museum and you’ll find that plenty of people have dedicated their years to digging up the details of the town’s pioneer days but when it comes to recording their own lives people forget that they are a living part of history themselves. Moreover, they are the best chronicler of their own lives – it doesn’t get much more genuine than a first person account.
“This event highlighted the wealth of contextual history that is in imminent danger of being lost forever. Action must be taken NOW to capture the riches held in memory banks.” – Elders Project audience member
So, in 2017 participants in The Narrogin Elders Project began storytelling workshops with WA independent theatre company The Kabuki Drop. These workshops helped participants refine their stories and build confidence to tell them on stage, culminating in four Narrogin seniors showcasing their stories over two performances.
Far from just a project for seniors, The Narrogin Elders Project brought the community together as workshops specialising in stage direction, lighting design and sound design were provided for participants of all ages.
After all was said and done more than 85 per cent of participants and audience members agreed that it was important that the project was happening in Narrogin.
Hopefully we’ll see plenty more stories coming out of Narrogin in future, with locals empowered to share, produce and perform these incredible personal tales.
Images by Silver Squid Productions
Talk of the Town: The Narrogin Elders Project was made possible by the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, which supports the arts in regional and remote Australia and the generous support of the Shire of Narrogin. The Regional Arts Fund is administered in Western Australia by Country Arts WA.