TALES FROM THE JETTY The Explorers, the Runners, the Marchers, the Mothers – and the moment they made History
They bounced onto Kerferd Road Pier when they said they would, and on the very first day that they could. They wore smiles, mottos, medals; they carried binoculars and banners. Volunteers have unstoppable energy and they always turn up. As soon as Melbourne’s final lockdown lifted in October 2022, these volunteers were There – on the jetty, upbeat, and ready to tell their remarkable stories. These were turned into four short plays which, when woven together on a sea breeze, became Tales from the Jetty.
‘These people, and the organisations they represent, are the quiet heartbeat of this city,’ says show producer Clare Mendes. ‘You will know some and have heard about others. You may belong to a couple of them. And chances are that you, or people you know, have had their lives improved by at least one of them.’ When considering organisations to feature in Tales from the Jetty, Mendes says that the selected four – the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, Achilles Melbourne, St Kilda Mums and Midsumma Pride March – immediately stood out ‘because they don’t sing out. So we wanted to do this for them. The achievements of these volunteer-run organisations, and their contributions to communities throughout the City of Port Phillip and right across Victoria, are quite extraordinary.’
‘We’ means Melbourne Writers’ Theatre, and Tales from the Jetty will be the third theatrical season this company has created in association with Gasworks Arts Park – and in partnership with the community. ‘We believe that important local stories deserve to be dramatised for the stage. Those unseen moments when a single thought or action exploded into something vast and enduring – it’s exciting to pinpoint where a big story began.’ For the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, the story began 140 years ago when a group of nature-loving volunteers, keen to preserve the flora and fauna of Wilson’s Promontory for future generations, gathered forces, resources and tools. The story of Achilles Melbourne, Melbourne’s premier running club for people with a disability, is more recent but equally profound – a vision-impaired Achilles volunteer performs the lead role. The vast, enduring story of St Kilda Mums, established in 2009 and now a major charity, began with a mother’s group, an unwanted pram, and a desire to donate. And there’s no story as big as the Midsumma Pride March – but do you know how the March began?
Rich in history, comedy and surprises, Tales from the Jetty will be directed by veteran MWT director Elizabeth Walley and feature performances by a stellar ensemble of actors, including some of the volunteers being celebrated. The Explorers, the Runners, the Marchers, the Mothers – there’s room on this jetty for everyone, so come on down!
Tales from the Jetty recording
Interviews with the cast and crew
Tales from the Jetty promo