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Word Adelaide - A Performed Reading of The Red Cross Letters

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History to be brought alive for local families whose ancestors were affected by WW1
Photo: State Library of South Australia

If your ancestors or family were affected by World War I, here's a rare chance to see a crucial part of history bought into the present.

Australians involved in the first World War could only communicate via letters when seeking news of their missing or injured loved ones on the front. These letters were sent to the Red Cross Information Bureau and the collection kept at the State Library of South Australia. The correspondence, coordinated by the Bureau, included accounts from military commanders, medical staff, volunteers, soldiers, and mates who fought alongside those lost or wounded.

Based upon the collections held at the State Library of South Australia, The Red Cross Letters is a performed reading of a selection of these letters sent to the South Australian Red Cross Information Bureau.

The Red Cross Letters evolved from an ongoing project involving the digitisation of 8000 enquiries made to the Bureau during ,WWI by relatives including parents, wives and sisters. It's part of a major commitment by the Library to digitise many South Australian WWI records and photographs for the Centenary of the War commencing next year.

It will be a unique opportunity to have an archive interpreted in a theatrical medium and should be an evocative and compelling experience. Precious South Australian history will be brought to life, particularly for the countless local families whose ancestors were affected by WW1.

The performance will be based around 20 selected enquiry letters and the replies, assembled and edited by Playwright Verity Laughton, and directed by Geordie Brookman from the State Theatre Company. It will feature a cast of Adelaide's best actors, as well as a live score performed by Matthew Gregan.

One hundred years on, the Red Cross International Tracing Service continues to reduce the suffering of people separated by war, conflict, disaster or migration by finding loved ones, re-establishing contact, exchanging family news and clarifying the fate of the missing.

The Red Cross Letters is part of Word Adelaide, a new festival celebrating the power of words, and is proudly owned and managed by Events South Australia.

There'll be two performances of The Red Cross Letters held in the historic, wood-panelled Mortlock Chamber at the State Library on Sunday 18 August at 12:30pm and 3:00pm. There are limited spaces, with tickets from Bass.

Sunday 18 August at The Mortlock Chamber, State Library of South Australia
Director: Geordie Brookman
Editor/Dramaturg: Verity Laughton
Music: Matthew Gregan
Running time: 60 minutes
Performances: 12:30pm, 3:00pm

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Why? Precious South Australian history brought to life will interest local families whose ancestors were affected by WW1
When: 18 August 2013
Where: Mortlock Chamber, State Library of South Australia
Cost: $25.00
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