Posts Tagged ‘Black Diggers


Black Diggers




Black Diggers

Queensland Theatre Company & Sydney Festival

QPAC Playhouse

September 24 – October 12 2014


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 


This is the beginning of a conversation.

Director, Wesley Enoch


Second class citizens who don a uniform and fight for a nation that doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate them? Sounds like fiction, doesn’t it? It’s not; it’s the strange, sad Australian truth penned by Tom Wright and directed by Wesley Enoch for this year’s Sydney Festival. Opening last week in Brisbane, the staging of Black Diggers in 2014 coincides with 100 Years of ANZAC.


The Indigenous story is one of quiet strength.

Director, Wesley Enoch


In his Conversations interview with Richard Fidler, Enoch reveals that one hundred years ago, the Aboriginal soldiers didn’t fight for king and country. “They fought for justice and freedom”. It’s fascinating to hear the discussion about the construction of an imagined piece, this reconciliation story, from “distant remembered information”.


If you’re prepared to die side by side you should be prepared to live side by side.

Director, Wesley Enoch


One hundred years ago, in 1914, a bullet from an assassin’s gun in Sarajevo sparked a war that ignited the globe. Patriotic young men all over the world lined up to join the fight – including hundreds of Indigenous Australians.


Shunned and downtrodden in their own country – and in fact banned by their own government from serving in the military – Aboriginal men stepped up to enlist. Undaunted, these bold souls took up arms to defend the free world in its time of greatest need. For them, facing the horror of war on a Gallipoli beach was an escape from the shackles of racism at home, at a time when Aboriginal people stood by, segregated, unable to vote, unable to act as their children were ripped from them. When the survivors came back from the war, there was no heroes’ welcome – just a shrug, and a return to drudgery and oppression.


Black Diggers is the story of these men – a story of honour and sacrifice that has been covered up and almost forgotten.


Directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom WrightBlack Diggers is the culmination of painstaking research into the lives and deaths of the thousand or so Indigenous soldiers who fought for the British Commonwealth in World War I.


Grand in scale and scope, it draws from in-depth interviews with the families of black Diggers who heard the call to arms from all over Australia, as well as conversations with veterans, historians and academics. Young men will step from the blank pages of history to share their compelling stories – and after the curtain falls, we will finally remember them.


A sleek, smooth, black(board) set designed by Stephen Curtis (I love the ghetto style drum contained eternal flame) invites us to stay awhile on common ground – the best classroom of all – and with the support of Ben Hughes’ lighting states and Tony Brumpton’s soundscape we travel to many different eras and places to hear the stories that one hopes will continue to open hearts and minds.


Soldiers’ names – classic white on black – a simple and effective visual device, serves as a constant reminder that lives were not only lost at war but also, upon the soldiers’ return “home”, where they were expected to take on once more the subservient roles on white mans’ stations, sans newly acquired skills and confidence. The piece maintains good pace, with a bit of Three Stooges style comedy throughout and it’s clear that an attempt has been made to balance the teacher tone of each lesson with dramatic flair.


The notions of mateship, racism and reconciliation come across strongly in this production, from the opening gathering of actors, as Vietnam Veteran and Aboriginal elder, George Bostock, sits centre stage to shine a pair of shoes, to the final scene depicting ANZAC Day commemorative events. During the closing moments The Last Post is played as a “new remembering of a story that may have been forgotten”, with a didgeridoo creeping in beneath the Reverie. Some are visibly moved and on their feet, while others remain seated, reflecting no doubt, and appreciating the monumental amount of work that’s gone into constructing and staging the production just as much as the story itself. Perhaps, for some, the story is more powerful than the telling of it.


Wright’s work would certainly translate well, with the help of a ruthless screenwriter, to our television screens. Surely there is funding for that development following an extensive national tour. In the meantime, particularly in the current political climate, there’s no excuse to miss this landmark production, with so many opportunities to catch the performance at QPAC’s Playhouse or experience the live simulcast on October 8 (see details below).


Let’s continue the conversation. Lest we forget.


People did remember. And they did think about it. It just took time.

Director, Wesley Enoch


Filmed live from The Playhouse QPAC on Wednesday 8 October and streamed direct to nine venues across Queensland, audiences will simultaneously experience the powerful and compelling story of Black Diggers.



Burdekin Theatre

Book at the theatre or visit



Moncrieff Entertainment Centre

Book at the Box Office or visit



Cairns Civic Theatre

Book at the ticketLiNK counter, phone 1300 855 835 or visit



Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre

Book at the Box Office, phone 07 4972 2822 or visit



Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre

Book at the Box Office, phone 07 4961 9777 or visit



Mount Isa Civic Centre

Book at Outback at Isa or phone 07 4749 1555



Pilbeam Theatre

Book at the Box Office in person, phone 07 4927 4111 or visit



Empire Theatre – Heritage Bank Auditorium

Book at the Box Office in person, phone 1300 655 299 or visit



The Amphitheatre, Jezzine Barracks

Bookings not required.  For more details visit

This event is proudly supported by the Queensland Government.



A Season of stories for QTC in 2014 – Season Launch

A season of stories to star on stage for Queensland Theatre Company in 2014


Sadly, despite our best efforts, we didn’t get to the launch today. We left the Sunshine Coast in plenty of time after a lovely morning of pancakes and pool time with gorgeous friends, but stopped still in heavy south-bound traffic well before the Caloundra/Landsborough exit, and I knew that even if the pace were to pick up before Caboolture, we’d be turning up at QPAC halfway through the event! So I had to call it. We took the exit and took off up the mountain instead! Poets Cafe was the perfect place to sit on the terrace overlooking the forest and the sea, with scones and iced tea, and retweet the tweeters in attendance at the launch! THANK YOU TWITTERATI! Thanks to you all, we were able to keep up with the proceedings and the exciting announcements about QTC’s Season 2014 AS WESLEY ANNOUNCED THEM.


Seriously, how good is social media?!



Here’s the official press, and on The Other Blog you’ll find out more about our afternoon NOT at the official function. (Oh. But perhaps not until after school tomorrow. I’m back on class this week! Goodnight!).


The story – from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace – is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, 

but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” Ursula K. Le Guin



Australia Day – The Mountaintop – Macbeth – The Effect

Gloria – Black Diggers – Gasp! – A Tribute of Sorts – The Magic Hour



A season of stories. Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) today unveiled its much anticipated Season 2014, and it did not disappoint. Artistic Director Wesley Enoch announced seven powerful mainstage productions including a world premiere and two Australian premieres and a cast lineup including an internationally acclaimed Director, a world famous writer and a season of stories starring Australia’s greatest actors.


Enoch said QTC’s Season 2014 would be a year of important story-telling; of productions that would move and motivate audiences.


“There is a very real focus on Australian work in 2014 with 75% of the season Australian plays, and for good reason – Australian stories and storytellers are amongst the very best in the world,” he said.  “We will see a tripling of works being commissioned, we have two productions in association with local groups and four co-productions – this is exciting for us and for our audiences,” he said.


“Season 2014 is one that audiences will thoroughly enjoy – it is laced with humour, emotion, conflict, questions and adventure. It is also a season that nurtures our stars – we are very proud to present four works by female playwrights, and welcome two female directors, as well as celebrating a 45% increase in the number of actors across the season compared to this year.”


Arts Minister Ian Walker announced that Queensland Theatre Company had been successful in its application for the Newman Government’s Super Star Fund. The funding will go towards Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to be directed by internationally renowned theatre director Michael Attenborough CBE.


“Michael Attenborough creates high-impact, contemporary Shakespeare that really thrills audiences,” he said. “This Queensland exclusive will be a unique experience for our audiences. It will deliver the benefits of cultural tourism to the south east of the state, undoubtedly attracting many theatre lovers from interstate. There will also be rewards for Queensland artists with workshops and a mentorship and the development of an education show by Grin & Tonic, I am Macbeth, to be toured to Queensland schools and regionally in 2014.”


The Season 2014 story opens in January at the Playhouse with the bang-up-to-the-moment barbecue-stopper of a comedy that questions the national identity in Australia Day. As the brains behind Sydney Theatre Company’s wickedly satirical institution The Wharf Revue, writer Jonathan Biggins has his finger firmly on the pulse of Aussie culture, and tells this story with wit and wisdom. Andrea Moor, director of this year’s smash hit Venus in Fur, directs again, and for actor Paul Bishop, who plays the Mayor, this material is comfortably close to home – when he’s offstage, he is a Redlands City Councillor on Brisbane’s bayside.


Insightful and provocative, The Mountaintop is a lively, funny, moving and magical look back at the life of one of the most inspirational men to walk the Earth in Dr Martin Luther King Jr – but far from putting him on a pedestal, it’s a warts-and-all portrait of a human being, culminating in a blistering recap of decades of civil rights history, right up to the present day.


Penned by brilliant young Memphis playwright Katori Hall, it was a West End and Broadway sell-out and an Olivier Award-winner. Making his Queensland Theatre Company debut, Pacharo Mzembe shines as King while vivacious actress, activist and hip-hop sensation Candy Bowers dazzles as Camae.


In March, QTC presents the classic story, Macbeth – the original Game of Thrones -directed by British theatre royalty Michael Attenborough, in association with 40-year veteran Brisbane theatre troupe Grin & Tonic and starring a cast of 15 superb actors. Jason Klarwein and Veronica Neave star as the royal couple with blood on their hands, heading an all-star local cast featuring Tama Matheson, Andrew Buchanan, Thomas Larkin, Kevin Spink, Steven Rooke, Lucas Stibbard, Tim Dashwood and Christopher Beckey.


In July, QTC leaves the Playhouse until September, making its home in the Bille Brown Studio (BBS).


The Effect is the story of a struggle for dominance between the clinical order of science, and the roiling chaos of the human heart. A co-production with Sydney Theatre Company, it was written by young British playwright Lucy Prebble, author of West End and Broadway hit ENRON and TV’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl. The Effect stars Queenslander Anna McGahan, recently seen on the small screen in House Husbands, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Underbelly: Razor.


A new Australian work, commissioned by QTC, by Brisbane playwright Elaine Acworth is the next story to be told. Gloria is a play about grace and grandchildren, about memory – and for anyone who’s ever stumbled over putting a face to a name, or called an object a ‘thingummy’. It’s a play where music takes centre stage, weaving together Gloria’s rapidly fraying memories and brings together an all-Brisbane cast led by stage powerhouse, Christen O’Leary (End of the Rainbow, Bombshells) as Gloria.


Marking the return to the Playhouse in September is a powerful Australian work –Black Diggers.


One hundred years ago, about a thousand Indigenous Australians took up arms to fight in World War I. For them, battle on a Gallipoli beach was an escape from the shackles of racism at home. Black Diggers draws from interviews with families of men who heard the call – men who now step from the blank pages of history to share their stories. Directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom WrightBlack Diggers presented in association with Sydney Festival and Brisbane Festival; the cast is headed by the talented Luke Carroll, last seen playing a soldier in a very different war in QTC’s Mother Courage.


The finale for the mainstage Season is a work by one of the world’s leading writers and comedians, Ben Elton. Gasp! is a breathtaking, brilliantly funny satire on the heartlessness of big business. Continuing QTC’s fertile collaboration with Western Australia’s Black Swan State Theatre Company, Gasp! draws cast members from Brisbane and Perth. First performed in London in 1990, starring Hugh Laurie, Gasp! was the playwriting debut for stand-up comic Elton (The Young Ones and Blackadder).


Supporting the mainstage Season are two productions that tell stories in the BBS. May sees two productions – A Tribute of Sorts which is an artful, dark, morbidly funny celebration of the art of theatre itself, and The Magic Hour, where actor and singer Ursula Yovich breathes new life into the fables collected by the Brothers Grimm.


The season announced today leads a full program of touring, education, children’s shows and more.


Season Tickets on sale