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laywright Matthew Ryan (

pictured left


heard only a few comments from his late

grandfather about the Battle of Brisbane

but it was enough to inspire him to dig deeper,

and so began more than a year of meticulous

research to form the setting of his latest play,

titled simply


, which will have its world

premiere at QPAC from 11 April.

The city of Brisbane was indeed a

battleground in 1942. While war was raging

in the Pacific bitter brawling broke out on our

city’s streets between Australian and American

servicemen stationed here. It’s an intriguing

and insightful backdrop to Ryan’s play but the

heart of the story belongs to 14-year-old Danny

Fisher (played by one of Brisbane’s most versatile

performers, the very adult Dash Kruck).

Danny’s beloved pilot brother has been killed

in the bombing of Darwin and his devastated

family is unravelling, just as tensions are rising

between the Yanks and Aussie servicemen in

Brisbane. Danny finds a replacement for his

brother in Andy, an American serviceman who

takes the teen under his wing, but behind it all

young Danny is hatching a plan to take revenge

against those who took his brother.

It’s a coming-of-age tale with moments of

comedy between the heartfelt drama and the

boy becomes a metaphor for the city and the

city a metaphor for the boy.

“I did a lot of research into what took place

in the city that year, what the city was like

and the places that we’ve lost since then such

as Cloudland, the Trocadero and the Regent

Cinema. Danny’s lost his brother and he’s

dealing with the grief of that and trying to

replace him and, at the same time, I wanted to

get an understanding of the audience’s loss of

our history,” says Ryan.

“I hope that when the audience is watching

a scene at Cloudland and feeling the loss of

this place that has been taken away from them,

they are experiencing what the character is

experiencing,” says Ryan.

In addition to his own research Ryan hired

an historian to ensure the details of his setting

were authentic but


also reflects the

heightened level of imagination that Ryan

brings to his work.

Animation, puppetry, screen projections and

illusion have all been used to great effect for

sell-out seasons of his previous works such as

boy girl wall

, an hilarious and award-winning

collaboration with Lucas Stibbard and theatre

group the Escapists, and in

The Harbinger

, his

collaboration with David Morton and Dead

Puppet Society.

For Queensland Theatre Company’s

production of


Ryan is working with

director Iain Sinclair and designer Stephen

Curtis to realise the imaginative world of Danny

Fisher who conjures characters in his head,

including Winston Churchill who makes an

appearance and a long-dead general who

provides commentary throughout.


, 11 April to 3 May, Playhouse, QPAC,

South Brisbane. See

Play raises Anzac Day debate

In the centenary year of Gallipoli Denis Moore’s direction of

The One Day of the Year

for Gardens

Theatre raises a timely debate: the relevance of Anzac Day. The play, written by Alan Seymour in

1958, was initially banned before it finally found its way onto the professional stage in 1961 amid

considerable controversy and a bomb scare at the dress rehearsal.

“Central to the controversy was the fierce debate carried on in the play between the father and

son of a working class family as to the significance and meaning of Anzac Day,” says Moore. “To the

father, a returned soldier, it is central to the meaning of his life; to the son, the first member of his

family to attend university, it has become a meaningless and empty ritual.”

Moore believes the play is a splendid platform for that debate but insists it is about more than

Anzac Day. “This production is a dramatic portrait of a family in crisis trying desperately to negotiate

the often difficult changes we are all confronted with in our daily lives, both within ourselves and

our relationship with others. The play is more than 50 years old but the themes it deals with are still

pertinent to ourselves and our society,” he says.

The One Day of the Year,

28 and 29 April, Gardens Theatre, QUT Gardens Point campus, 2

George Street, city. Tickets $42 (adult) see


| BNE March/April 2015

Postcard from the past

The Battle of Brisbane provides a volatile background to a heartfelt coming-of-age

story by playwright

Matthew Ryan