Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories is a show developed by me and my wonderful collaborator, Sarah Depasquale.

Wandering through our local botanic gardens (the Williamstown Botanic Gardens), we asked ourselves the question, 'Where did all these exotic plants originally come from and how did they get to Australia?'

We discovered that part of the answer was 'the Wardian case', or as we like to say: 'The Amazing Case of Dr Ward!'

The problem of carrying botanical specimens on board ships had been ongoing for centuries. Then in 1833, Dr Ward (a plant enthusiast) experimented with sending some plants in a sealed glass and wooden case from London to Sydney and back again. The experiment was success and the transportation of plants was revolutionized (and the terrarium craze was also sparked).

Sarah and I have found our delight in this story to be infectious. Our local Men's Shed (Hobsons Bay Men's Shed) made us a couple of scaled down replica cases.
Neil Davidson, Mick Linsay, Philip Frisina Colin Dyall from Hobsons Bay Men's Shed

Jackie helping Loraine oil the cases at the Williamstown Botanic Gardens

Loraine Callow (who works part time at the Williamstown Botanic Gardens managed by the Hobsons Bay City Council) created a glorious set of illustrations for us to use in a Kamishibai (Japansese wooden storytelling box).

Dr Luke Keogh (environmental historian and curator with a special interest in the global movement of plants in the 19th and 20th century) offered advice and ecouragment and Nan McNab (editor and author) kept a close eye on us as we developed the story.

Sarah and I were invited to the 2018 Port Fairy Folk Festival and as part of a packed program of storytelling, we finally launched our new show into the universe.

I made a little video of Sarah and me at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. It will give you a glimpse into the kind of fun we have when out and about with stories.

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories
(suitable for an inter-generational audience and ideal for festivals)

When you bite into a mango and the juice dribbles down your chin, spread a picnic rug under a shady elm, or pop a fuschia bud, do you ever ask the question: how did these plants come to be in Australia? It is quite possible that the answer lies in a simple invention made of glass and wood. 

In London, in the early 1800s, a doctor and enthusiastic amateur naturalist, accidentally discovered a plant growing inside a glass container.  Aware of the difficulties of transporting live botanical specimens aboard ships, Dr Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward concluded that plants needed to be sealed in transparent cases, protected from salt spray, rats and clumsy sailors. The Wardian case (as it became known) revolutionized the transportation of plants and were in use up until 1962.

Sarah and I begin with the ripping tale of how Dr Ward developed his idea, and we follow with two stories dedicated to specific trees (the golden elm and the weeping rosebud cherry) and a story dedicated to the gardeners.

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories is inspired by the Williamstown Botanic Gardens, designed by Edward La Trobe Bateman and opened in 1860.

45 - 50 minutes

For audiences under 80 people:
  • 4 metre x 3 metre space – preferably raised if the seating is flat
  • no amplification required
For audiences over 80 people we need:
  • 4 metre x 3 metre space – preferably raised if the seating is flat
  • Digital projector for images
  • Radio mike for Jackie and a mike on a stand for Sarah
Cost available on enquiry
Visit Jackie's website HERE
0412 210 098
Sarah Depasquale and Jackie Kerin
Sarah Depasquale is a classically trained violinist, librarian, birdwatcher an gardener.
Jackie Kerin is a classically trained actress, storyteller in the oral tradition and author of several award-winning children's picture books, bird watcher and gardener.  Learn more here.

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