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In World War I there was a fight going on outside the trenches.

One in five Anzacs got Venereal Disease

It could be fatal

One woman went to war


Meet Ettie Rout

Difficult, bright, brave.

Ettie put together one of the world’s first prophylactic kits

She had a brothel run on Safe Sex lines – 70 years before the term was invented


Welcome to Ettie's War

Running for under an hour, our playful, fast-paced theatre piece tells Ettie’s story


In 1918 Ettie met every troop train in Paris: Join her on the station as she greets the battle-weary Anzacs. They are exhausted, nervy and reckless, but Ettie understands.


What does the Women’s Christian Temperance Lady think of Ettie’s work?

Lily is waiting back home but what will she find out about her fiancé?

And will Adam get home from the war?


This funny and moving show tells a little known story of courage and sacrifice against the backdrop of WWI where men’s stories are much better known.


Jaunty WWI era songs combine with humour and touching personal encounters to paint a portrait of a different kind of heroine.


Our three major themes are:


Sexual health

Courage and sacrifice

Who makes it into history?


HG Wells called her ‘that unforgettable heroine’ but her work protecting Anzacs has been suppressed for a century. She barely rates a mention in Australia’s official War History: As our supporters at the RSL said to us; “It’s time her story was brought into the world”

Janet Watson Kruse is an actor and writer. She has collaborated with director Jane Woollard and dramaturg Chris Thompson to make Ettie’s story sing.


Our development was assisted by the City of Moreland, the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program, Ettie’s biographer Jane Tolerton and and the Coburg RSL.

Janet Watson Kruse

Lead Creative


Janet is a working professional actor with experience in Theatre, Feature and Short Films, Television Drama and improvisation.

She has written a number of shows for children, including an alternative Christmas Pageant and The Monster Show for a special group of kids to whom she taught drama at Sunshine Special Developmental School.

Janet actually earns her living as an actor, and is in demand playing distressed and complex patients for medical practitioners. This work requires flexibility and the ability to quickly create contrasting characters with a high degree of emotional truth. This improvisational ‘writing’ stands her in good stead for this project of many voices. Janet has done more than450 workshops nationally in this challenging area of improvisation, and is lucky to have been flown all over Australia for this work.

She has appeared in twelve episodes of Neighbours as kind but firm social worker Roz Challis and in 2013 played a psychic in very scary horror film Beckoning the Butcher which is currently in distribution worldwide.


Recent theatre work includes If the Truth be Told by Margaret Hickey directed by Janice Muller (Black Swan, Belvoir), Angels in America directed by Peter Kalos, a Hannie Rayson monologue at la Mama directed by Anna Loewendal and Volumnia in an all-female Coriolanus.


On Saturdays she can be seen in a show at the Old Melbourne Gaol playing Ned Kelly’s feisty mother Ellen to an audience of up to two hundred. She has performed this show over two hundred times. She has a facility with accents and is often asked what part of Ireland she is from by Irish visitors. Such a Life also has a solo version, so Janet knows by experience that she can engage an audience as a solo performer.


Janet is also a registered secondary teacher, has a postgraduate Dip Ed and two degrees. This academic background is of good assistance in this current project.


In 2013 Janet came across the work of Jane Tolerton, historian and biographer of Ettie Rout. The story immediately seized her. On commenting to Jane Tolerton that the story would make a wonderful script, Jane replied ‘Yes, and you are Ettie’ and gave her blessing and encouragement to develop the work into a theatre script. This project stands on her shoulders.


Janet works hard to create communities with fellow practitioners and has been a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance since 2001. She is also proud to have served on a number of juries for the AACTA Awards – the ‘new’ AFI.

Jane Woollard
Chris Thompson


Jane is a director, playwright, dramaturg and teacher. Jane has directed productions for La Mama, St Martins Youth Arts Centre, Barnstorm Theatre, RMIT Union Arts, Victorian College of the Arts, the Victorian Arts Centre, Theatre of Spheres, Mainstreet Theatre SA and Here Theatre. Jane founded Here Theatre with Amanda Johnson, Kit Lazaroo and Colin James in 2003. Works by the company include: Aelfgyva by Jane Woollard, music by Stevie Wishart (2003 Melbourne Autumn Music Festival); True Adventures of a Soul Lost at Sea by Kit Lazaroo (RE Ross Award, 2005 Trades Hall); The Time is not yet Ripe by Louis Esson, (Winner 2006 GRAA Best Ensemble); Asylum by Kit Lazaroo (Wal Cherry Play of the Year, VPL Awards Shortlist, 2007 & 2008 La Mama); Letters from Animals by Kit Lazaroo (Storeroom Theatre Workshop 2007) and Topsy by Kit Lazaroo, (2007 RE Ross Award; fortyfive downstairs 2010). Jane has been collaborating with Kit Lazaroo on three new plays, Green Nights, Quiver and Bright, Shiny. Quiver was part of the 2012 La Mama Explorations Season. Jane is completing a PhD on the life and work of early Australian performer Eliza Winstanley. She is also the recipient of a Federal Government ‘Your Community Heritage’ Grant for Laughing Water Stories, which explores landscape, art and memory in Eltham, Victoria. She directed Green Nights Underfoot & Bright Shiny by Kit Lazaroo at La Mama in 2015.



Chris is a mutli-award winning writer, director, teacher and artistic director.


A former Artistic Director of St Martins Youth Arts Centre and Union House Theatre, Chris Thompson was a founding member of the HotHouse Theatre Artistic Directorate in Albury-Wodonga and Co-Artistic Director of Jigsaw Theatre in Canberra. He has also been director of MUDfest at Melbourne Uni, the Biting Dog Theatre Festival in Albury and the Monash Uni Schools Theatre Festival (winner of the Drama Victoria Award).


For St Martins Youth Arts centre, Chris wrote and directed Thicker Than Water and Isambard & Me and adapted and directed Cairo Jim on the Trail to ChaCha Muchos from the novel by Geoffrey McSkimming.


For HotHouse Theatre, he wrote The Bridge and A Neutral Script and co-wrote and directed WATERwORKS and Equation=The Act of Making Things Equal which toured to Kenya for the 2002 International Drama and Education Conference.


For the Victorian Arts Centre, he adapted and directed Sonya Hartnett’s Wilful Blue and Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery (with the Geminiani Orchestra) wrote Lily Lasseter and the Floating Zoo for the 2002 Chookas Children’s Festival, wrote and directed Shady Characters, directed Gift of the Gab with Morris Gleitzman, developed and directed the performance-workshop projects Spin and Spinout and created the online play POSTi for primary schools.


For Jigsaw Theatre, he wrote Stop Means Go, Gerald FitzGibbon Tried to Kiss Me and The Grab and wrote and directed Michael Francis Willoughby in Elohgulp.


Other writing includes the plays Happy a musical co-written with Caity Fowler for Melbourne Fringe, The Grimmuss for St Michael’s Grammar and Debs commissioned by Outback Theatre for Young People.


Chris has also directed The Legend of King O’Malley by Michael Body & Bob Ellis for St Martins Youth Theatre, The Wakefield Mystery Plays at St Paul’s Cathedral, Judith by Howard Barker for The Storeroom and Distance by Daniel Nellor for La Mama Theatre in Melbourne.


His plays for young people have been nominated for five Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE awards, winning three times for Shady Characters, The Bridge and The Sadness of Mister Saisson.


Chris has written three feature film screenplays; Jigsaw, A Slow Night at the Kuwaiti Cafe and The Tumbler which was nominated for the QLD Premier’s Literary Awards and won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. His short screenplay Cow was selected for the inaugural VCA/Whistling Woods Mumbai Travelling Studio and was co-produced in India.


He was co-creator of two seasons of Shock Jock on TV1-Foxtell and With Tim Ferguson on Channel 31 and wrote the digital dome-show, Problem With Pluto for the Melbourne Planetarium.


Chris has worked extensively in script development in both theatre and film, including his work as a script mentor for Youth Performing Arts Australia, Regional Arts Victoria, Union House Theatre and Writers Victoria. He was dramaturg for the 3rd Indigenous Playwrights Festival, Director of the 9th National Young Playwright’s Conference and Coordinator of the 2nd St Martins Young Playwright’s Competition. He has been a script assessor for the Australian Writers Guild and a judge for the screenwriting category of the AFI Awards, for the Wal Cherry Play of the Year Award, for both the children’s literature and emerging writer categories of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and for the Youth Theatre, Theatre for Young People, Short Film and Major Award categories of the AWGIES. Currently he is working with Tim Ferguson to develop Script Mechanics, a screenwriting assessment service for Open Channel, where he is also a script advisor for the Raw Nerve Short Filmmaking Project.


Chris is a graduate of Deakin University Rusden with a BEd in Drama & Media Studies and VCA School of Film & Television with a Masters in Screenwriting at VCA School of Film & Television. He reviews teenage fiction for Viewpoint Magazine, lectures at ACU and Deakin Uni in theatre and playwriting, is on the Arts & Heritage Panel of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and is President of the Victorian Green Room Awards.

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