He’s known as the Memory Man, and he is coming to Tuncurry.
Rob Mitchell has been performing storytelling and reminiscing shows at Sydney aged care facilities for more years than he can remember.
Ten years ago Rob decided to reach out to new audiences and take his shows to rural locations throughout eastern Australia, as part of his annual leave.
This year Rob placed Tuncurry on his agenda and will be performing his unique show for Glaica House residents.
Seventy-year-old Rob has been interested in other people’s stories from schooldays when he would be spellbound listening to his history teacher’s tales from the past.
However, rather than pursuing his real interests an unspectacular career in corporate finance followed for this Baby-Boomer.
It took the death of his father in 1996 and a near-death experience of his own a few years later for Rob to seek a completely new direction, one more in keeping with his real passions – stories and memories.
He reinvented himself as the Memory Man.
Rob records family life stories.
He uses them as well as memory triggers incorporating the five senses and old household memorabilia, to engage with seniors in a series of reminiscence pantomimes at aged care facilities and other community organisations.
The triggers Rob uses in his shows are items from yesteryear such as Reckitt’s blue bags, Bex headache powders and sand soap.
These are housed in specially constructed wooden boxes covered with old postcards and also in several old Globite suitcases.
Rob says he learns just as much from folk in the audience as they do from him.
Like the time a 94-year-old gave him a packet of Vincents APC headache powders and told a story about a paddle boat cruise he and his girlfriend went on when he was a young bloke of 70 years
“The first night out on this cruise they had a fancy-dress party right on board the boat. I thought I’d do something easy so I just put a pillow up the front of my girlfriend and she was supposed to be pregnant at 68.
“Then I made a sign which I hung around her neck. The sign said: ‘I took Vincent’s with confidence’. My sign said: ‘I’m Vincent’. We won first prize.”
Rob’s interview with his dying father in 1996 led to the book Scone Larrikin which was published by the State Library the following year and signalled the start of hundreds of oral history recordings for other families and an ongoing professional relationship with The Oral History Association of Australia.
In 2005 Rob self-published another book, 1001 Questions for Life Stories – now in its sixth edition – to help people record memories for their own families.
To this day it remains the only list world-wide of 1000 (and one ) questions over a lifetime.
The Memory Man 2019 Summer Tour from Sydney to Noosa starts on March 12 at Tuncurry and ends 10 shows later in Maitland.
The show at Glaica House will be held at 2pm, Wednesday, March 13.
More details are available from the Memory Man website.