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y separately published work icon Black Diggers single work   musical theatre   war literature  
Issue Details: First known date: 2014... 2014 Black Diggers
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'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.' (Source: QPAC 'What's On', September 2014)



Teaching Resources

Teaching Resources

This work has teaching resources.

Via production company (Arts Centre Melbourne).

Production Details

  • Produced by Sydney Festival & Queensland Theatre Company in association with the Balnaves Foundation.

    World premiere at the Sydney Festival January 2014.

    Performed at the Queensland Theatre Company (Playhouse), 24 September to 12 October 2014.

    Director: Wesley Enoch.

    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.

    Cast: Luke Carroll, George Bostock, David Page, Hunter Page-Lochard, Guy Simon, Colin Smith, Eliah Watego, Meyne Wyatt, and Tibian Wyles.

    Black Diggers Indigenous Reference Group: Uncle Harry Allie, Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM, Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA, Pastor Ray Minniecon, Gary Oakley, Garth O’Connell, and Colin Watego.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 2014
    • Fortitude Valley, Fortitude Valley - New Farm area, Brisbane - North East, Brisbane, Queensland,: Playlab , 2015 .
      image of person or book cover 3652456602907563498.jpg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      Extent: 99p.p.
      ISBN: 9781921390814

Works about this Work

Screening Live Performance : Australia's Major Theatre Companies in the Age of Digital Transmission Richard Fotheringham , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australasian Drama Studies , April no. 68 2016; (p. 3-33)
'This article is in four parts. First, I discuss the emerging worldwide phenomenon of commercial cinema screenings of live stage performances. Second, I chart some attempts by Australia's major performing arts organisations to do likewise. Third, I examine more closely one simultaneous satellite relay screening to nine regional cities: a performance of a Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) production of Tom Wright's Black Diggers, directed by Wesley Enoch, on Wednesday 8 October 2014. Finally, I attempt some brief thoughts on where this new area of work could be heading.' (Publication abstract)
戦争の記憶とオーストラリア先住民演劇 : 『年に一度のあの日』The One Day of the Yearから『ブラック・ディッガーズ』Black Diggersへ 佐和田 敬司 War Memories and Australian Indigenous Theatre : From The One Day of the Year to Black Diggers Keiji Sawada , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: 人文論集 , vol. 54 no. 1-18 2016; (p. 1-18)
Transnational War Memories in Australia's Heritage Field Emma Waterton , Jason Dittmer , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Media International Australia , vol. 158 no. 1 2016; (p. 58-68)

'Academic interest in Australia’s heritage field has developed primarily around the ways its subject has been used to support dominant national interests. Understandings of heritage, however, are increasingly shaped by developments occurring in other nation-states, as well as those occurring at the international level. This article considers the changing nature of Australian notions of heritage within the context of the ‘transnational turn’. It does so in two ways. First, the article traces talk of transnationalism at a general level, considering especially theorisations around a materialist understanding of memory. Second, it considers what new representations of the past such a theorisation might call forth in the Australian context. As a point of illustration, the article focuses on the specific case of Australian war memories and their articulation within the heritage field.'

Source: Sage Publications.

y separately published work icon Tom Wright's Black Diggers and Fred D'Aguiar's The Longest Memory Anica Boulanger-Mashberg , Cheltenham : Insight Publications , 2016 10102400 2016 single work criticism
‘Addressing a Great Silence’: Black Diggers and the Aboriginal Experience of War Liza-Mare Syron , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: New Theatre Quarterly , vol. 31 no. 3 2015; (p. 223-231)
'In 2014 Indigenous theatre director Wesley Enoch announced in an interview that ‘the aim of Indigenous theatre is to write into the public record neglected or forgotten stories’. He also spoke about the aims of a new Australian play, Black Diggers, as ‘honouring and preserving’ these stories. For Enoch, Black Diggers (re)addresses a great silence in Australia’s history, that of the Aboriginal experience of war. Also in 2014, the memorial sculpture Yininmadyemi Thou Didst Let Fall, commissioned by the City of Sydney Council, aimed to place in memoriam the story of forgotten Aboriginal soldiers who served during international conflicts, notably the two world wars. Both Black Diggers and the Yininmadyemi memorial sculpture are counter-hegemonic artefacts and a powerful commentary of a time of pseudo-nationalist memorialization. Both challenge the validity of many of Australia’s socio-political and historical accounts of war, including the frontier wars that took place between Aboriginal people and European settlers. Both unsettle Australia’s fascination with a memorialized past constructed from a culture of silence and forgetfulness. ' (Publication abstract)
Lest We Forget : Forgotten Diggers Get a Hearing 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 26-27 October 2013; (p. 3)

— Review of Black Diggers Tom Wright , 2014 single work musical theatre
Black Diggers : The Untold Story 2013 single work review
— Appears in: Reconciliation News , December no. 28 2013; (p. 3)

— Review of Black Diggers Tom Wright , 2014 single work musical theatre
Black Diggers : Challenging Anzac Myths Paul Daley , 2014 single work review
— Appears in: The Guardian Australia , 14 January 2014;

— Review of Black Diggers Tom Wright , 2014 single work musical theatre
'Hundreds of Indigenous servicemen fought for the British empire in the first world war – but are forgotten by many. A new play aims to challenge the cultural caricature of the Anzac digger.'
Digging Up a Forgotten Past Jason Blake , 2014 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 20 January 2014; (p. 14)

— Review of Black Diggers Tom Wright , 2014 single work musical theatre
Culture Clash : Home Truths of Black Diggers John McCallum , 2014 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 20 January 2014; (p. 12)

— Review of Black Diggers Tom Wright , 2014 single work musical theatre
Forgotten in the Line of Fire Steve Dow , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 15 October 2013; (p. 14)

'Aboriginal soldiers' stories are finally being told...'

Tale of Black Diggers a Proud Memorial Phil Brown , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Courier-Mail , 9 January 2014; (p. 47)
Interview : Wesley Enoch Enoch's Farewell to Charms; Rewriting Theatrical History Elissa Blake , 2014 single work interview
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 11 January 2014; (p. 4) The Canberra Times , 11 January 2014; (p. 20) The Age , 11 January 2014; (p. 20)
Stages of War Rosemary Neill , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 11-12 January 2014; (p. 4-6)
Overdue Recognition of Indigenous Diggers Andrew Taylor , 2014 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 17 January 2014; (p. 2)
Last amended 22 Nov 2018 13:34:59