By Luke Voogt
What would the cartway door at Geelong’s old wool mill say if it could talk? Long-time actress Jane Bayly knows a little something about that.
“The door has witnessed an incredible range of comings and goings, and she’s almost 150-years-old,” she said.
The Thornbury actress gives voice to the door in a new series bringing six Geelong landmarks to life this month.
“I’ve performed a lot in Geelong, in various touring shows and primary and secondary schools, and way back in the ’80s at Pako Festa,” she said.
“So I jumped at the chance to audition as a voice artist for this Geelong landmark.”
Opening in August 1872, the door was a thoroughfare for Clydesdale-drawn carriages carrying fleece into the mill – now the National Wool Museum.
The door witnessed the advent of coal and electricity, VFL footballers practicing outside and many exciting events, according to Jane.
The door also speaks to a ghost of the past, who reveals a horrific crime in nearby Gore Place.
“Some very sinister things have happened outside in the dark that nobody would have seen, but the door,” Bayly said.
She described the challenge of voicing an inanimate object as “liberating and exciting”.
“I decided the best way to do it was to actually come and see the door,” she said.
“I came to Geelong and made sure I looked at all the landmarks. I love the idea of landmarks having memory.
“They not only witness the events but have memories of the history – so that’s very powerful. But they’re also very playful and fun.”
Bayly combined the “liveliness” of the script with door’s physical characteristics to create its personality.
“I just thought she’s very solid and very pragmatic,” she said.
“She’s a barrier but she can open. She’s social, and loves her job, being able to welcome people and observing all the comings and goings.
“She enjoys seeing who brings what in and the changing times. She sees her work as very important and exciting and has a very strong understanding of the responsibility of her job.”
The series also features Gretel Sharp, Angie Hilton, Benji Groenewegen, Tom Molyneux and Tom Halls bringing life to the Eastern Beach fountain, a horse on the Geelong Carousel, a lion at City Hall, the Johnstone Park rotunda and the Geelong Railway Station walk bridge.
“I conceived the idea of a whimsical object monologue during the 2020 COVID lockdown,” writer-director Penelope Bartlau said.
“I was thinking about how to share stories, how we can have enlivening and magical experiences that enable us to feel connected even when we are by ourselves.
“The Object Monologues Geelong is the outcome of my musings.”
The free audio series, created by Barking Spider Visual Theatre and supported by council’s COVID-19 arts recovery program, launches at 12pm next Friday.
The series, produced by Luisa la Fornara for Creative Geelong, features sound design by Vicki Hallet and photography by Sarah Walker.
The project will be available after launch via the ECHOES interactive sound walks app, with scripts available for the deaf and hearing-impaired by emailing email@example.com.