Today I am inspired by The Theatres of War Exhibition currently being held at the Victorian Arts Centre, StKilda Rd Melbourne.
The content of the exhibition is varied. Programs and posters of shows held in Australia to raise funds, clothing worn by people such as Kylie Mingoue, Doc Neeson, Patti Newton. Photos and letters telling stories of war and entertainment.
One thing that struck me in particular was a story the curator’s included with the program of the Vienna Mozart Boys Choir 1939. The choir had been touring Australia and were waiting in Fremantle, Western Australia to leave the country when War was announced. The choir master was interned in an internment camp and the boys were considered to be War Aliens. They were taken under the care of Catholic Archbishop Daniel Mannix and formed the nucleus of the St Patrick’s Cathedral choir in Melbourne. This story alone has inspired me to conduct some research to discover if the boys ever returned to Vienna.
Much of the content inspires the public to read about war history. The conditions back home and why entertainment was such a pivotal part of fundraising for the soldiers. The history of war zone entertainment. Which countries provided entertainment and how did this service start?
Finally I am inspired by the performers themselves, from opera singer Dame Nellie Melba to pop sensation Kylie Minogue. Rock star Doc Neeson to comedians Hamish and Andy and many many more entertainers. These people provided their talent as a service during wartime but above all they basically risked their lives to enter war zones to bring some light relief and fun into the lives of the soldiers. That’s inspirational.