CEN­TE­NARY SHOW IS BORN

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page -

to Agelink Theatre artis­tic di­rec­tor Jenny Davis, the writer, di­rec­tor and ac­tor sprang into ac­tion and pro­duc­tion Life in their Hands was born.

“Al­though I was wor­ried it would be tricky at first, it quickly be­came ap­par­ent there were lots of good sto­ries from over the years,” Davis said.

“It is a show but it’s not like a con­ven­tional play.

“It has to span 100 years, which is a lot to pack in to 90 min­utes sat­is­fac­to­rily, so I just picked out the mo­ments, par­tic­u­larly the early years be­cause they have the most fas­ci­na­tion to us now.”

Life in their Hands fea­tures eight ac­tors, in­clud­ing two chil­dren, and 20-voice-strong Su­bi­aco choir Voice­works per­form­ing songs from the eras.

The cen­tral char­ac­ter is KEMH fig­ure Ma­tron Walsh, who was ap­pointed in 1926 and ran the hos­pi­tal for more than 30 years.

The other ac­tors play mul­ti­ple roles, in­clud­ing nurses, doc­tors, pa­tients and visi­tors.

“Walsh was an old-fash­ioned ma­tron and this was her do­main,” Davis said.

“Peo­ple were ter­ri­fied of her but she also had a heart of gold.

“She had an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy writ­ten af­ter she re­tired which was a great source of sto­ries and re­ally use­ful re­source for me to find in­ci­dents that would trans­late well on to the stage, whether they were dra­matic, funny or poignant.”

Davis was also helped by vol­un­teers at WA Med­i­cal Mu­seum in Har­vey House at King Ed­ward Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal and the KEMH Cen­te­nary Com­mit­tee.

“Ev­ery time I wrote a draft I would send it to the doc­tors on the Cen­te­nary Com­mit­tee to make sure ev­ery­thing was cor­rect; like when I wrote an ac­count of a breech birth de­liv­ery,” she said.

“I felt like I was writ­ing for Call the Mid­wife some­times; I think I could write an episode for that show now.”

Davis said her own con­nec­tion to KEMH was the birth of two of her grand­chil­dren.

“Ev­ery­one I speak to, even if they weren’t born there, they know some­body who was or they gave birth there them­selves,” she said.

“It is dear to ev­ery­one’s heart.”

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