The Tale of an Enduring Friendship
MeWei 3027 is based on the incredible true story of a lifelong friendship developed between Roland Carter the first Ngarrindjeri serviceman from the South Australian community of Raukkan and Jewish German ethnologist Leonhard Adam.
Image courtesy of Country Arts SA
Roland Carter (https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/people/162574) became the first Ngarrindjeri man to join the Australian Imperial Forces during World War I in July 1915 – he was 22 years old. Captured by the Germans whilst fighting on the Western Front, Roland was incarcerated in a camp for prisoners. It was there he met Leonhard, a new graduate of Berlin University who was employed by the German government to collect information on the culture and customs of prisoners from varied cultural backgrounds. During meetings between the two, Roland gave Leonhard valuable insight into the customs, history, language and daily life of Ngarrindjeri people back home in Australia.
It was these meetings that led the two men from very different cultures to form a friendship destined to last over forty years and go through a remarkable change during World War 2. Forced to flee his German homeland, Leonhard eventually found himself in an Australian internment camp and a new life in Melbourne. The two friends were never to meet again, but through Leonhard’s sister-in-law, who travelled to Raukkan in 1947, were reconnected and continued to correspond by mail.
It is through these letters, consultations with family, and workshops in the Raukkan community that Ngarrindjeri Wathaurong playwright Glenn Shea developed the original work Mewei 3027 (Mewei is the Ngarrindjeri word for Soul).
This important new theatre work will have its first reading at Raukkan on 22 April at 5pm, to be followed by a reading at the Dunstan Playhouse on Anzac Day 25 April, at 3pm. Both play readings are free. Please register to attend at www.countryarts.org.au/events/mewei-3027
Country Arts SA has been working with the State Theatre Company of South Australia, Raukkan Community, Anzac Brains Trust and Melbourne University and is grateful for the support from Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund, Gandel Philanthropy, Arts South Australia and Australia Council for the Arts, all of whom have been vital to the development of this project.