Old charm lights up night

OLD TIMER: Rebel Elder and war veteran Tom Rush will star as a toff surrounded by dogs in a film to be screened at White Night.

OLD TIMER: Rebel Elder and war veteran Tom Rush will star as a toff surrounded by dogs in a film to be screened at White Night.

Not content living a quiet life in her twilight years, Helen Gower is delving into her past to unearth the inner rebel.

WITH A REBEL YELL: Rebel Elders Kath Morton, Susan Morse, Doreen Braybrook and Helen Gower PICTURE: Kate Healy.

WITH A REBEL YELL: Rebel Elders Kath Morton, Susan Morse, Doreen Braybrook and Helen Gower PICTURE: Kate Healy.

She will take centre stage at Ballarat’s upcoming White Night festival as opera soprano Brynhildr, complete with braided hair, a conical bra and a matching metal helmet with horns.

Ms Gower is one of eight of the city’s residents, aged between 75 and 95, who will star in the Rebel Elder’s ten minute short film to be screened at the White Night festival.

STRIKING A CHORD: Helen Gower will perform as the iconic opera soprano character Brynhildr in a Rebel Elders film. PICTURE: Kate Healy

STRIKING A CHORD: Helen Gower will perform as the iconic opera soprano character Brynhildr in a Rebel Elders film. PICTURE: Kate Healy

It will be projected as part of the White Night festival in Melbourne and Ballarat.

The film aims to defy negative stereotypes of senior citizens and strives to depict them as heroic, wise and strong, says co-director Ballarat musician Rose Turtle Ertler.

Ms Ertler, who founded the Rebel Elders in 2014, collaborated with filmmaker Andy Ferguson for more six months on the project. 

Prior to filming, each of the elders was asked one question: what did you always want to be?

For Ms Gower, who spent years performing in the Light Opera Company, the answer was easy.

“I wanted to sing of course,” she laughed.  “Part of the reason I have loved the experience so much is because it’s fantasy. I’ve always been theatrical and I’m a bit of a show pony at heart so I’ve always loved the stage.”

For Ms Gower, joining the Rebel Elders group has lead her to forge long-lasting friendships with others just as young at heart.  

“We are such a diverse group of people and we all have our own interests but when we come together it’s  like a common bond,” she says. 

Dressed in a dusty pink suit with a top hat and surrounded by a posse eight small dogs, Rebel Elder and war veteran Tom Rush will bring a touch old-time charm to the film.

Mr Rush, who turned 95 this week, will star as a well-dressed, upper-class British toff.

“I’m dancing with dogs in the film,” he explains. 

“You’ve go to be careful at my age not to over do it, but I’ll tell you what, it’s a good effort from an old fella.”

The great grandfather’s mantra in life is simple.  

“It’s about getting the best out of your life in your old age,” he says. “You never know, you might have a few laughs and make a new friend along the way.”

White Night Ballarat takes place over 12 hours starting on Saturday, March 4, from 7pm until 7am. The event will take over the heart of the city, focusing on Lydiard Street (between Ballarat Station in the north and Dana Street in the south) and Sturt Street (between Armstrong and Albert Streets).

For information or to see the program of events visit whitenightballarat.com.au.