They Also Serve
Cathie and Ilona have performed this show at the Auckland Museum, Te Aroha Little Theatre and The Little Theatre at Matamata. They are hoping to take their performance to other parts of New Zealand as dates can be arranged.
Cathie and Ilona present a well-crafted entertainment with readings and music giving a flavour of the period when society was faced with their menfolk being sent to war.
From the fundraising efforts of Carnival Queen Extravaganzas held around New Zealand to the presentation of white feathers to those deemed cowards.
About The Show
"They Also Serve" performed at Auckland Museum” during the World War I commemoration programme in April.
The whole show has music woven through the narrative with Paul Harrop on the piano and Jennie Khan on the cello. Paul is the well-known conductor of the Aotea Youth Orchestra and Jennie plays in the Manukau Symphony Orchestra and many other music groups.
Two booked out Shows played on Saturday 21st February at The Te Aroha Little Theatre
Review by Audience Member
As centenary commemorations of World War 1 (1914-1918) continue, Te Aroha theatregoers were treated to a unique look at that period of hostilities from a very different perspective late last month.
Noted singer, harpist and musician Cathie Harrop and renowned TV and film actress Ilona Rodgers brought their new show They Also Serve to Te Aroha’s Little Theatre in what can only be described as a coup for the Dramatic Society.
A packed house at both matinee and evening performances on Saturday, February 21, quickly warmed to the telling and dramatisation of those events though the eyes of those who were left behind at home – the women of New Zealand.
Cathie Harrop, who has for many years researched New Zealand history, related accounts of those times – sometimes informative, sometimes incredulous and often with humour while Ilona Rodgers brought them to life in a series of powerful characterisations. The audience were not left out of participation and the stories were enhanced by music of the time from Paul Harrop on the piano and Jennie Khan’s cello providing a background in the more sombre moments.
What unfolded was a reflection on how the women left behind rose to the occasion to make their presence not only felt, but significant, as an element of the war effort. Their stories were touching, thought-provoking, humorous, and occasionally downright outrageous. Their efforts, despite a misogynistic government’s attempts to keep them unseen and unheard, are a tribute to the determination of the women of New Zealand to also serve as were their menfolk.
The show is intended as tribute to the astonishing contribution the nation’s women made when their menfolk were making their own contribution elsewhere. It is interesting to note the contribution made by the women all those years ago was largely ignored by the powers that be. One wonders why little is made of that 100 years later when the world is remembering the menfolk.
Thank you Cathie and Ilona for bringing it to our attention it was a delightful and entertaining evening. I loved every minute of it.
auckland museum season
'They Also Serve' had 3 performances in the Auditorium at the Museum to three very appreciative audiences. Below is a review from William Green the well known pianist, composer and reviewer.
In the 'Great War' men enlisted, fought and died, and in this centennial year we commemorate their achievements and sacrifice. But what of the women? What was their contribution in this 'war to end all wars'? For a female perspective, 'They Also Serve' (performed at Auckland Museum, April 15-18) has already marked itself out as a unique event. The four suitably costumed performers were researcher, singer and harpist Cathie Harrop, stage and screen actress Ilona Rogers, Paul Harrop (pianist) and Jennie Khan (cellist).
Over the course of ninety minutes we were taken on a varied journey through narration, song, instrumental items, the reading of letters and newspaper reports, a musical game and audience participation. There was a staggering amount of material presented on women of all classes, which included the famous (Katherine Mansfield and the much maligned Ettie Rout) and the not so famous. Maori women were not forgotten. The poetry and letters were mostly read by Ilona who captured class, character and nationality in her artfully modulated tone and accent. Cathie, as narrator - presenting the fruits of long hours of research - held the programme together, and as singer (sometimes to her own harp accompaniment) served the songs in making sure that every word was heard.
There were moments of fun, as pianist Paul turned quizmaster extraordinaire in a craftily put together 'name that tune' medley.There were moments of tragedy, as the names of nurses who perished during the war were slowly read out to Jennie's poignant cello accompaniment. There was a moment of indignation as Ilona read out a letter from a society woman shaming unenlisted men, leading to a section on women giving white feathers to those men who weren't fighting at the front.
All the while there was an unceasing parade of information - how many socks were knitted by women in Otago; how many cans of toheroa were sent to maori soldiers overseas; when the first recipe for ANZAC biscuits was published. Far from being mere trivia, each fascinating snippet added another stitch in the tapestry of just how life must have been like for women during the war. Last but not least, there was audience participation - and not only singing, but knitting! Yes, we were asked to knit and there were prizes at the end for the best results ... ANZAC biscuits of course.
The Great War affected New Zealanders nationwide, yet this informative and engaging presentation has so far been shown only in Auckland and Te Aroha. This is a great shame, as we, as a nation, need to know how our grandmothers and aunts fared in this tragic conflict which affected us all. Two years in the making, and with support from no less than Creative New Zealand, this show simply must be toured to other centres to make others aware of those who also served. This is our heritage. This is us.
Little theatre Matamata
There were two performances of the show at The Little Theatre in Matamata. Here the audiences were again delighted by the show's variety; warming to the poignancy, humour and general entertainment value delivered by the performers.
Many stayed after each performance, conversing with the cast; relating stories of their forebears and sharing in others reminiscences.
It was also wonderful to talk to a well known local, Dr Neil Algar, the grandson of musician Clara Algar whose story is recounted during the show.