A walk through a cemetery can elicit many ideas about ghosts or morbidity, but as the title of this tour suggests, here you actually meet the residents who tell you their stories at their grave sites. They are played by actors of course- some of Geelong’s most experienced. As the walk progresses around the cemetery, guided by one of the residents themselves, tour participants are presented with a human portrayal of that person’s life; bringing a voice to names many of us hear or see every day, but know little about.
It all began in 2015 when Geelong Cemeteries Trust’s deputy CEO Frank De Groot contacted local theatrical entrepreneur Colin Mockett, with the core of this idea. Together they researched and put together a line-up of real people for the first tour in 2016.That has grown to now become five tours over three local cemeteries, occurring every weekend in March 2021. And every revived ‘character’ still adheres to the original concept that they must have ‘a strong storyline and a recognisable connection with Geelong today.’ That, along with ‘an element of surprise and a backstory that resonates with the 21st Century tourist’.
The tours feature pioneers, founders and visionaries as well as those who toiled for those in need, generous benefactors and many quiet achievers that, as the tours reveal, impacted not just the lives of those in the Geelong region but across the nation and the world!
Comparing the lives and circumstances of those long dead characters to those of today are frequently startling. There are changes in attitudes, living standards and not to mention technology. So, the monologues give the observer a real sense of the challenges faced by the people who helped to shape Geelong.
Colin, as guide, has said that he has lost count of the times he has heard words to the effect… ‘I’ve lived in Geelong all my life and have learned more today than I ever knew’. The tour is essentially a shared history of the people of Geelong. It connects the past with the present, on levels from all walks of life and the human condition. Indeed, several people who attend the tours have connections to the residents and that brings even more heart to the stories for all involved.
As one tourist put to Colin ’It’s as if each person (character) gave us a piece of jigsaw and when we’d finished the tour, we can put those pieces together to picture our past.’
Information on all tours, dates and times can be found at the Geelong Cemetery Trust website:
Information: Colin Mockett Photo: Supplied