My Father’s Wars… for all our fathers.

We have filmed the theatre show – thank god – and I wish we’d filmed the post-show conversation…

We have filmed My Father’s Wars. 

We’re not nearly finished – editing is underway by our terrific videographer – but we have the footage done. Thank. God.

We digitally captured the theatre production over several days – forced to push up the schedule by the latest COVID scare – seeing a few dozen exposure sites spring up overnight  on the Queensland Health website was terrifying… then all week, at 10 o’clock in the morning, half the cast/crew tuned into the news apps on their phones, listening to Annastacia and Jeannette… and honestly, we were gob-smacked at the lack of new cases – but thankful, my God, so thankful.

 And so happy to finally do the show in front of a live audience on the Friday night. Also digitally captured.

Once again, that live experience with the audience was revealing.  I had forgotten how responsive people are to this story – the need to know more about the early, secret life of a parent. Their life before you.

Wedding day – Bill and Daph – I had no idea she had a 21 inch waistline!

During the crazy COVID development last year, we worked with senior aerialist Aliya Abisheva who told me hearing this story made her wish she had asked her own grandfather more questions about a ‘box of precious things’ he kept. He had served in the Soviet Army during WW2 and now she really wanted to know what that was like for him.

 And it wasn’t only people starting to wonder about that unknown, early life of their parents and grandparents. During one of many readings at SLQ a few years ago, a middle-aged man told me he had brought his teenaged children because he wanted them to have some idea of the experiences of their Vietnam veteran grandfather. The intergenerational transfer of memory and story, as well as trauma, perhaps.

The other thread that Friday’s post-show conversation shared with those earlier readings was the notion of the ‘the silence of the soldier’.  When I mentioned that Dad never really spoke about the war, there were always people in each audience who came up and told us afterwards that I was describing their father – they all agreed – these men were ‘tough, old buggars’, intolerant of fools, plain-spoken – often men of few words but who rolled their sleeves up and got on with whatever needed to be done, deeply loyal to family and friends, and with a way of looking right through you, right to the other side of whatever was happening. 

And every time we spoke with audiences, it was clear again – My Father’s Wars is not just my father’s story – but the story of so many of our fathers, down the years…

 Some staff who knew me as I researched at SLQ years ago came to Friday night.

“…Hearing the real words of Queenslanders echoing down through time, broken down and shared through the dramatic medium, was a hauntingly human experience. Knowing the lines of (some characters) … were taken largely verbatim straight from their own letters was a striking experience and leant a real weight to the immersive experience…” – India

 And another SLQ colleague –

“… It is one thing to read the hopes and fears of young soldiers in the letters they sent home to their loved ones, but it is quite something else to see and hear those experiences transformed for the stage. A more visceral and intimate experience altogether… the actors take you inside the heads and hearts of their characters and the production leaves you with a vivid sense of the impact of war and its ripple effect through time…” – Robyn

 For all our fathers.

This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

It has also been supported by the State Library of Queensland through a QANZAC100 Fellowship, by the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and by the Tivoli – and by friends of the work – JV, KTAB, IW and SS, ML and RY, you know who you are.