A WORLD premiere at the Old Mill Theatre this September ponders whether the war is really over when a Polish migrant works as a housekeeper for an Australian ex-serviceman.
Written by Yvette Wall and directed by Mary Wolfla, Dolls From The Sky is set in 1953 and explores bigotry, racism, grief and various struggles as the former serviceman is visited by local parishioners who cause tensions to rise as various truths are revealed.
The show is part of the theatre’s short play season, titled An Anzac Duo, and was inspired by Wall’s parents’ journey as post-war immigrants to Australia.
“Some of the Polish character’s journey in Dolls From The Sky is based on my mother’s actual story,” Wall said. “She came out from east Africa on the General WC Langfitt to Fremantle in 1950.
“My father arrived from British India in 1948 and had a keen interest in World War II history that he passed on to me.
“I did some historical research to write this play – it’s dedicated to my parents.”
Director Mary Wolfla said Dolls From The Sky focuses on a woman’s struggle with loss after losing a partner in the war and explores how three different women are living with the war's aftermath.
“You meet a war veteran affected by post-traumatic stress disorder who, although an alcoholic and recluse, still believes in the power of closure when struggling with loss,” she said.
“I like the play because it talks about war from a woman's eyes and examines the emotional toll it took on women and small communities after the men didn’t come home from the war.
“It looks at a woman's need for closure after the loss of her husband on the battlefield – something that was very real for women left behind after World War I and II.”
Wolfla said directing a play that had never been performed was her main challenge.
“I am thrilled to be working closely with the playwright Yvette Wall, both as an actress [she plays Margaret] and as the creator of this work,” she said.
“I am lucky Yvette is taking this opportunity to workshop the script, making the rehearsal process a valuable time for her and I to really examine the layout of the play and make sure all the parts fit neatly together.
“In working collectively, I hope my directorial decisions fit Yvette's ideas, as well as give her and the rest of the cast the opportunity to feel as though they own a small part of this never-performed play.
“When directing a work that has never been performed before, it’s a first time for everything, allowing me to make creative choices from my own experiences and not being informed by a previous director's work.”
Joining Dolls From The Sky for the Old Mill Theatre’s season of short plays is Armistice Day by Noel O’Neill.
Directed by Valerie Dragojevic, Armistice Day finds three World War I soldiers meeting a year after November 11, 1918, to celebrate peace – but they find out the price of peace is far too high.
Dolls From The Sky and Armistice Day play at 8pm September 2, 3, 4 and 5 under the collective title An Anzac Duo. All tickets are $20 – book at http://oldmilltheatre.com.au/tickets or on (08) 9367 8719.
The short play season is the fifth in a year of all-Australian plays at the Old Mill Theatre to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015.
The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on the corner of Mends Street and Mill Point Road, South Perth (opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post).
dolls1: Kerry Goode, left, Andrew Watson, playwright Yvette Wall and Natalie Aung Than are appearing in Dolls From The Sky at the Old Mill Theatre.
dolls2: Andrew Watson, left, plays an ex-World War II serviceman in Dolls From The Sky with Natalie Aung Than as migrant Polish housekeeper Anna.
dolls3: War widow Margaret (Yvette Wall, left) is comforted by Polish housekeeper Anna (Natalie Aung Than) in Dolls From The Sky.
dolls-kery: Dolls From The Sky features Kerry Goode as Miss Betty Brown, a character from 1953 who doesn’t realise how racist she sounds.
Old Mill Theatre
South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics' Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.
The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. In 2009, the theatre celebrated its 60th anniversary.
A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links two backstage dressing rooms and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which was wholly self-funded.
The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from its local council, the City of South Perth. The city undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008 and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
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