History Here screening

Filed : Lifelong Learning, Projects, Young People .

Short films about Orange region’s history, made by school students collaborating with local seniors, will screen at the Amusu Theatre in Manildra on Saturday 10 June.

History Here is an Arts OutWest project, devised and led by author and literacy consultant Paul Stafford.

Public screening of films Sunday 10 June, 2pm – 4pm at the Amusu Theatre Manildra. There’ll be finger food and live music by composer Miles Wright

History Here paired students from Borenore Public School, Mullion Creek Public School, Spring Hill Public School, Cudal Public School and Manildra Public School with heritage-minded seniors. The students interviewed the seniors for inspiration for their film-scripts. The students also helped write a music score and performed the stories on camera.

“Students were excited and enthused by the realisation that interesting, dramatic and significant events occurred where they live,” Paul Stafford said.

The short films by each school cover local stories:

  • Mullion Creek Public School – The Story of Ophir Joe (an early discoverer of big gold at Ophir, as opposed to Hargraves’ few specks)
  • Borenore Public School – The story of Frank Rusconi, discoverer of marble at Borenore (described as the best in the world)
  • Cudal Public School – The story of Max Hazleton, founder of Hazleton Airlines (which beget Rex) who survived a crash in the bush in the Cox River Catchment, sustaining no injuries apart from a broken watch) and wandered starving for 6 days through wild canyons
  • Manildra Public School – story of Allan Tom who founded Amusu Theatre (the oldest continuous running in Australia)
  • Spring Hill Public School did an interpretation of the Man from Ironbark. “The link according to Principal McAnulty is that Banjo Paterson is buried down the road so they own him,” Paul Stafford said.

During five-day long workshops delivered by Paul Stafford at each participating school, students were taught skills in research, interviewing and writing. Students learnt techniques in using source materials, combining these with their own research – including talking to seniors – to create a set of  compelling historical scripts. The stories were filmed on the final day of the workshop.

Students were asked to engage at least one senior citizen in their personal research of the event (grandparent, neighbour, family friend) and ask that person about their memories of that or other incidents in the district.

“In this way senior citizens were drawn into the information loop – they enjoyed being questioned about their experiences, and students were reminded how important a role seniors play as repositories of cultural memory and information,” Mr Stafford said. “The seniors in the project essentially became both the source material themselves and the script consultants.”

The scripts were performed by drama students. Students also worked with local composer and musician Miles Wright to create an original score for the project, with each school contributing their own interpretation of the score. Vince Lovecchio (Canobolas Rural Technology High School) stepped in to assist with the editing, alongside David Antioch (previously a student of Molong Central School, now studying at the University of Wollongong).

Parents were invited to have input into the project, via their own information and/or assisting with period costume. Students were encouraged to share what they had learnt with their parents, with a view to increasing community awareness of local events of historical significance.

“Students don’t have a large connection with the region’s history. History Here aimed to change that lack of awareness through connecting youth with seniors and highlighting the value of using historical events as the foundation for creative output,” Mr Stafford said.

Feedback from teachers and parents included:

  • “It was great for kids to get a better understanding of their own local history.”
  • “The process of researching a local event or character, then writing a script and acting it out, really brought the story to life.”
  • “I was amazed at some of the things that had happened in my own backyard that I was unaware of.”
  • “We have such a rich history here in the Central West – projects like this help keep it alive, especially among kids.”

The June 10 screening at AMUSU Cinema in Manildra is free and everyone is welcome. The films will also be screened as part of the Orange Youth Arts Festival in 2017.

The History Here project was made possible through a $25,350 grant from the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage’s Community Youth and Seniors Heritage Grants 2016-2017.

The project builds on the Orange City Council’s 2015 heritage project Villages of the Heart, coordinated by Paul Stafford. Paul’s recent books ‘You’re History, Mate!’ (Australian history, non-fiction, Random House), ‘Ned Kelly’s Helmet’ (1998) and sequel ‘Captain Flinders’ Map’ (fiction, New Holland, 2016) aim to revivify Australian history for students through highlighting the most exciting historical events.

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