Exploring the lived experience of soldiers through theatre

ANZAC Day is a significant day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, where people pay tribute to the soldiers who fought in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping missions. Many plays and musicals have been written that explore the lived experiences of soldiers and honour the sacrifices they made for their countries. Here are some of the most notable productions that have been created to commemorate ANZAC Day.

  1. “Gallipoli Bill”: A play by Arthur Adams about two ANZAC soldiers who are invited to recuperate in an English stately home, causing cultural clashes between the British upper class and the Australian soldiers. The play is significant for its attempt to record the attitudes and slang of Australian soldiers during World War I.
  2. “One Thumb Out”: A play set in present-day Australia during the Middle East War where conscription is introduced. The play explores the sense of duty among young Australians and where their loyalty lies.
  3. “Black Diggers”: A play that tells the story of hundreds of Indigenous Australians who enlisted to fight for their country during World War I, despite being shunned and banned from serving by their own government. For them, the war was a chance to escape the racism and oppression they faced at home. The play is based on extensive research into the lives of these soldiers and features in-depth interviews with their families, veterans, historians, and academics. It aims to shed light on the forgotten sacrifices and contributions of Indigenous soldiers in the war.
  4. “War Horse”: This international hit musical, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, tells the story of a young boy named Albert and his horse, Joey, who is sold to the cavalry and sent to fight in World War I. The play explores the bonds between soldiers and their horses, and the impact that war has on both humans and animals.
  5. “Snapshots from Home”: A play based on the wartime memories of 24 men and women from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast during World War II. It portrays ordinary people living through extraordinary times and their experiences on the home front. The play was commissioned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII in the Pacific and combines a series of snapshots, linked together by visual images, radio broadcasts, dance, music, and song. It provides an honest, heartbreaking, and humorously funny glimpse into the realities of life during the war.

These productions are just a few examples of the many plays and musicals that have been created to honour ANZACs and explore the lived experience of soldiers. They offer a powerful reminder of the sacrifices that soldiers made for their countries, and the impact that war has on individuals and communities.

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