One hundred years have passed since the Great War, yet some stories remain untold – Black Diggers is one of them. Following critically acclaimed seasons throughout Australia, Black Diggers will be presented at Arts Centre Melbourne and the new Ulumbarra Theatre in Bendigo.
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 Wright, Black 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.
“Through Black Diggers, Enoch and his creative team do what Australia’s best paid minds can’t – bring black and white Australia into the one narrative with some plausibility while not resiling from what has been euphemistically called ‘blemishes on our history’.” – The Conversation
Director: Wesley Enoch Cast: George Bostock, Luke Carroll, Shaka Cook, Trevor Jamieson, Kirk Page, Guy Simon, Colin Smith, Eliah Watego, Tibian Wyles Writer: Tom Wright Set Designer: Stephen Curtis Costume Designer: Ruby Langton-Batty Lighting Designer: Ben Hughes Composer/Sound Designer: Tony Brumpton Dramaturg: Louise Gough Cultural Consultant: George Bostock Researcher: David Williams
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 22 – 26 April 2015
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
Ulumbarra Theatre, Gaol Road, Bendigo
Season 1 – 2 May 2015
Bookings: (03) 5434 6100 or online at: www.ulumbarratheatre.com.au
For more information, visit: www.queenslandtheatre.com.au for details.
Image: Black Diggers – photo by Branco Gaica