I have often stated that children seem to love Louisa’s Walk and we love them! The change to a four term year here in Tasmania has made a difference to tourism operators and we, at Louisa’s Walk/Her Story have taken many families through our experiences in the last week or two.
Most recently three families enjoyed sharing Louisa’s journey and all had delightful children – one of them was Imogen.
She was one of those lovely, confident young girls, very self-possessed – she even volunteered in the Crime Yard to tell the Overseer that the women were being beaten (this takes courage given the scary persona of the Overseer!).
On the way back up to the top of the Cascades, she offered me a fuchsia flower she had picked and gave me a hug, I thanked her and placed it on top of my basket intending to bring it home and put it in water to remember this delightful child. However, on the bridge over the Hobart Rivulet, a gust of wind came and blew it away. I apologised to Imogen and told her I’d have to remember her in some other way.
After we had come out of character and were having our Show-and-Tell time at the top of the Cascade Gardens, she presented me with a piece of bark upon which she had written her name.
Thank you Imogen – now that is a treasure that will keep!
A Memory of Imogen
Anyone who has experienced Louisa’s Walk knows that the Rajah Quilt features in our story. The transportation journey that we make on the ship, The Rajah, is the very journey on which the Quilt was made.
After our performance is over and we come out of character, we have a show- and -tell time (any infant/primary teacher will know what I mean!). We show photos of the Rajah Quilt and we explain that it is now housed in our National Gallery in Canberra. We also have to add the rider that it is not on general display though and that it only comes out to air on special occasions.
One of those occasions is about to happen; the Quilt is going up to Brisbane, to GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) to appear in a special quilt exhibition. Were you looking for an excuse to visit Brisbane this winter? Look no further – if you have come on Louisa’s Walk (or if you intend to when next you visit Hobart) you must see the Rajah Quilt……………………………………
The web site link is: http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/coming_soon/quilts_1700-1945
See the Rajah Quilt at GOMA this Winter.
I was doing some admin. on the computer a few weeks ago listening to R.N’s Music Show in the background, when I heard Katie Noonan’s distinctive voice. Katie visited Louisa’s Walk a couple of years ago when she was researching songs for her Love Song Circus. She was so moved by our story that she immediately drove up to Mount Wellington and wrote the song Louisa which appears on her Fierce Hearts CD and is part of Love Song Circus
We have since met her at the Festival of Voices in Hobart last year.
According to the radio program she was performing her Love Song Circus at the Spiegel Tent in Melbourne that weekend. Ever one to seize an opportunity, I sent Katie an email asking for details and within minutes received an invitation to see her at the Speigel Tent the following day. I booked flights and a hotel for us and the next day saw us flying off to Melbourne having finished Her Story. Fortunately, not having any advance bookings for Louisa’s Walk that day, we were free to go.
I had not visited the Spiegel Tent before and loved this quirky and intimate performing space. Katie’s performance knocked us both out. Katie performs Love Song Circus with a six piece string ensemble plus the most amazing three girl troupe of acrobats. The combination of Katie’s voice, the music and the graceful movements of the acrobats was moving beyond words.
After the show Katie invited us back stage to meet the musicians and the acrobats.
If you get a chance to see Love Song Circus anywhere, anytime – don’t miss it.
Katie Noonan's Love Song Circus
We have been so busy with a bumper season of Live History Productions. Louisa’s Walk and Her Story have never been so busy. This has been reflected in a distinct lack of blog posts! The busy season wasn’t helped by all of our female actors leaving during January and early February to go to other commitments; I was the last Louisa left standing!
However, Emesha Rudolf to the rescue – she was recommended to us after her successful season in the Gardens performing Treasure Island. Were we glad when she contacted us, soon after the season finished, asking if we had any openings at Live History Productions. Emesha learned the Her Story script quickly and was soon able to give me at least the mornings off. The Louisa’s Walk script, being a lot longer took a bit more time but as of two weeks ago when she performed her first Louisa’s Walk on Easter Sunday to a very big audience, she is fully on board.
So, I now have some time off and can catch up with things like writing blog posts. And Emesha brings her delightful personality to yet another incarnation of Mary James and Louisa Ragan.
Two Grade five classes from St Michael’s Collegiate School made a visit to Louisa’ s Walk yesterday. This is the second time their teacher, Meg Johnson, has brought her current year students to experience our Primary School version of Louisa’s Walk.
We were delighted, on arriving at the bottom car park of the Cascades Gardens, to see the girls already there and looking so wonderful in period costume. We always invite students to make an effort and dress up a little, it helps everyone to feel part of the play. These students had gone to enormous effort though and, without exception, they looked wonderful.
Meg, their teacher, told me they had made very simple mob caps by cutting large circles out of calico, punching holes around the edge and then threading ribbon through them, these were surprisingly effective. Take note parents and teachers it’s not hard! The image shown below is of a slightly more ambitious cap.
The girls were wonderful participants in our drama and we so enjoyed sharing Louisa’s story with them.
When it comes to ghosts, are you an ardent believer or a sceptic? About a month ago, I was walking along Degraves Street (where the Cascades Female Factory is sited) in my Louisa’s Walk costume, when a young man approached me and asked if I knew anything about the site? Well just a bit!
He told me that he lived in the middle cottage of the three opposite the Female Factory. He also stated that he had a strange story to relate and that I had to understand he was a sceptic. I told him what I knew about the three cottages; we believe the first one was once occupied by the Superintendent of the Female Factory. I told him that we had once met a woman (aged about 90) whose grandmother had nursed female convicts with scarlet fever in the second cottage (the one in which he lives) and that was about the extent of my knowledge.
His story unfolded as follows: every night, since he has moved in, he hears heavy, male footsteps at exactly 3.15 every morning. His partner has heard them too. One morning, just a few weeks ago he decided to get up, when he heard the footsteps and see what was going on. He went to his front door, which opens directly onto the street, exactly at the time of hearing the footsteps – there was no-one to be seen either up or down Degraves Street.
I leave it with you.
We often say that Louisa’s Walk is suitable for a diverse range of age groups but for under-fives it can be a little over their heads. Whilst I am not pretending that this cute baby understood a word he certainly stole the Show!
Cute Baby Evan.
Sometimes Louisa’s Walk feels more like a wildlife park tour! As we walk back up through the lovely Cascade Gardens, the main story is told and it’s more of a guided tour as we return our visitors to their cars outside the Cascade Brewery. Many stop and take photos as the view looking back up towards the brewery and to Mount Wellington, is stunning.
I posted in an earlier blog about the spring ducklings we saw. They have now grown into very handsome, fully fledged birds. More seem to have survived than in most years (they have many predators including the forest ravens). There is a trio of these young ducks who have become remarkably tame, they have discovered that if they hang around the picnic tables at the top of the park they get fed – smart birds! So, now they associate groups of people with food and Louisa’s Walk audiences are being treated to a trio of ducks waddling into the scene.
The other day when I was performing with Colin Dean we were in the Magistrates Court (a serious scene) when with a waddle and a quack the trio arrived. Sometimes, It is very hard to keep a straight face as I have said before.
The photograph below was taken at a time when it was more appropriate for Louisa to produce a camera – on the way back up.
It seems spooky that on this day, forty six years ago, Tasmania was fighting the biggest bush fire in living memory with a loss of sixty two lives and thirteen hundred houses and, today on that anniversary, we fight fires again.
We took Her Story and Louisa’s Walk out today but it was under a smoke hazed and threatening sky.
Bush fires on the Horizon
The Louisa’s Walk actors are very skilled at involving children, during the performance, to keep them engaged and we take every opportunity we can to draw them further into the story.
One of these places is during the Chapel scene when The Doctor is explaining what goes on there:
“At five o’clock the bell is rung, at half past five all waste tubs are to be out of the cells at six o’clock muster: when the wool is weighed in and the previous day’s yarn is weighed out. At seven o’clock the rations are weighed out for breakfast. At eight o’clock breakfast is served. At half past eight, prayers. And after prayers, work……….. all expect those women in the solitary dark cells, of course.”
One of our wonderful male actors will choose a child to be the Bell Ringer and that child must ring the bell at a nod from The Doctor. Yesterday, Colin chose a tiny little girl who couldn’t have been more than four year’s old; she was so enthusiastic in her bell ringing it was a wonderful sight to see.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face on Louisa’s Walk.