‘The Other Side – Kate’s Story’ is an important look at life. It is being presented by Life on Hold Productions in the Victoria Park Centre for the Arts, 12 Kent Street in East Victoria Park – near the Park Centre. The side entrance of this white colonial style cottage.
The 70-minute, one Act performances are at 7.30 on Friday and Saturday evenings until 20th July.
When the initiator and co-ordinator Sarah Christiner approached the Town of Victoria Park with hopes of support in putting on a basic play about the homeless, she was turned down. Considering that shops are closing everywhere, unemployment is on the rise and the number of homeless is rocketing Sarah decided to go ahead on her own. On hearing of Sarah’s idea and knowing how the number of street dwellers in Vic Park is rising – and elderly women are the sector increasing most – Clare at the Arts Centre generously offered her help and their facilities.
Getting a few friends together who, due to their occupations, face the struggling poor of the community every day -this story was at last on its way. The group got together and blended the true and horrendous stories that they had heard, into this series of short (5 to 10 minutes each) monologues.
You will probably find yourself watching part of your life being played out, so be prepared to stay after the show for a discussion (not compulsory) when no doubt the audience will be keen to point out that they too know someone who has ended up the same way.
For fourteen years I was on the Graham Mabury’s ‘Nightline Sleep Out’, sleeping in the Perth streets and parks getting soaked and frozen – but at 8.00 am I could go home for a shower and breakfast. The homeless cannot.
‘Cathy Come Home’ was written 50 years ago by Jeremy Sandford for BBC TV’s ‘The Wednesday Play’. It was about the tragic life of a young mother and the harsh reality of the failure of Government Social Services. All of the BBC upper echelon said, ‘Who will want to watch family tragedy?’ The BBC playwrights took a gamble. It became one of the most watched plays of 1965 and is still quoted today.
The lead actress Carol White won an award the next year for ‘Poor Cow’ an equally harrowing story. Carol’s own life was a shambles and she had a tragic death at the age of 48 from liver problems.
Accompanying this moving play there is a photographic exhibition showing the local homeless and their plight. By co-incidence with the BBC play, one of the photographers having a different display at the centre is called Carolyn White. There are a couple of dozen professional interpretations of ‘homeless’ from Rosalyn Anderson, Ben Chau, Blake Hughes
The scene: could be almost any area of Perth CBD today … and every day!
The set: living on a wooden palette is warmer and softer than the ground. The props included Kate’s treasured best friend, a brown paper bag with its contents and the ‘Cole’s’ mode of transport.
The simple but effective lighting was operated by Mitchell McClements.
The soundscape (Daniel Toomath and Sarah Christiner) ran quietly throughout the play. It was like mix of breeze noises and the sounds of blood flow. Good idea and it worked well. Sound operated by Siobhán O’Gara.
The costumes were supplied by the cast on a true-to-life theme conceived by Nicole Miller. All the characters wear the same style tartan lumberjack shirts and blue jeans, but in various stages of decay as the years go by.
Kate is depicted at three different stage in her life.
As a bolshie teenager (Sarah Christiner)
A mid-thirties housewife (Meredith Hunter)
In old age (Jane Sherwood)
I am not going to give any more details of the storyline, but the acting is flawless.
It is easy to dismiss the homeless as useless people who deserve what they get. Think again. How close have YOU come to being there too?
The play’s director and co-author is Siobhán O’Gara. Siobhán has directed some wonderful comedies at the Irish Club but has decided that this topic is so important that someone had to tell the story. Her handling of this series of minor disasters and the resultant pathetic but sadly too common life has just the right amount of pathos. You can see the problems starting to build up and unfold later in life. Clever and skilled observation.
This is not sugar-coated or patronising, this is a true to life presentation. There is crude and adult language and so the advised audience age group is over 16, but if you have a child who you think may be considering street life – and I know a couple – then bring them along. The production has financial overheads – and is likely to make a loss – but even so, if the entry fee is outside your budget they will look sympathetically on your situation. They would rather have you there and to spread the word.