Powerful Anti-war Drama

Nobody wins in war Jan. We all lost. Arthur, World War One survivor

“Bill Massey’s Tourists” demonstrates the realities of war

By Roger Childs

Bill MasseyJan Bolwell’s dramatisation of her grandfather’s World War One experiences, is a moving and entertaining experience. The Paekakariki performance last Sunday was the first live show in which Jan takes all the parts. She plays herself as an Oamaru school girl in Miss McKinnon’s history class, assigned to ask the old question: What did you in the war, Grandad? Accompanied with suitable props, music of the time and vivid video images, this is a very perceptive and poignant show. It covers the full gamut of wartime experience from the range of motives for going to the war, to the horrors of life and death on the western front.

With the 100 year anniversary of the start of the war to end war looming, this is an appropriate reminder of why New Zealand should never again get involved in other people’s wars.

If you missed it, there are four more chances to catch the show in Wellington. (See details below).

The multi-talented Jan Bolwell

Jan is a well known personality on the arts scene in Wellington and her versatility has been demonstrated in her dancing, choreography, playwriting, solo performances and promotion of other shows, such as pianist Jan Preston’s recent performance in Paekakariki. (See http://kapitiindependentnews.net.nz/jan-preston-a-class-act/)

Jan_Bolwell3She has

~ been the director of the Crows Feet Dance Collective since its inception in 1999
~ recently directed and choreographed The Armed Man; another World War One show composed and written by Karl Jenkins. (Recently performed in Otaki, this will return in 2015.)
~ performed solo in her own works: Standing on my Hands, and Here’s Hilda! about her grandmother. (Bill Massey’s Tourists completes the trilogy.)
~written a highly successful play based on Frances Hodgkins, called Double Portrait.

Jan will also feature in the cancer survivors exhibition: Brave Art. See http://kapitiindependentnews.net.nz/cancer-survivors-brave-art/

A captivated audience

PasschendaeleBill Massey’s Tourists is a skilful examination of the New Zealand experience of the so called Great War. Jan plays all the parts with passion and authenticity, and the exchanges between herself as a school girl and her grandfather Arthur, are a particular highlight.

The chronological scenes from Arthur’s adolescence to old age are punctuated with familiar music and poetry from the time and some parodies, ranging from the humorous  Land of heat and sweaty socks and Mademoiselle from Armentieres to the poignant For the Fallen and The Last Post.

The attentive audience enjoyed the humour and satire, and appreciated the strong messages about the futility and waste of war. The coverage of  all the implications of what the disastrous First World War meant for families across the nation, is very suitable for people of all ages.

The appropriateness of performing the show at this time was summed up by its creator in the programme:

It is timely to examine ideas and mythologies about patriotism and nationhood and to reflect on our place in global conflicts both past and present.

More performances in Wellington

  • July 24, 25, 26 (all at 7.30pm)  and 27 at 3pm
  • Whitireia Performing Centre, 25 Vivian Street, Wellington
  • Tickets: $25, $20, $10 (children)
  • Book online at www.thetheatre.co.nz