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Where it began...

 

Writer Suzanne Hawley and I first met when I was barely twenty, sharing a flat fresh out of drama school, where she was acting at The Ensemble and writing her first plays. She was (as she is now) brilliant, bold and completely unique. It’s extraordinary that this production re unites not only her but also three of my NIDA year and two other old friends, all stalwarts of the Australian stage. The themes of the play are ever present on the rehearsal room floor. The ease and genuine joy of working together again make this play fly high. It is hilarious and controversial, and will inflame an important debate, I’m sure.

For me, the journey began around Lewis Fitz-Gerald’s kitchen table early in 2017, with Penny Cook and Katrina Foster, NIDA classmates and old friends. We wanted to work together again. And I remember reading 'Wild Thing' only a month or two earlier. We are now without our marvellous Penny, but we have the play.

And four real female friends to tell it.

                                                                                                     Di Smith  

War Babies

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War Babies are a rare generation.

A small group of kids, born between 1939 and 1945 -  while most of our men were away overseas, fighting for Mother England.

A generation who went from 'How much is that doggy in the window' to  'Heartbreak Hotel" almost overnight.

They share their birthdays with the likes of Mick Jagger,  the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Steven Hawking, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese, Muhammad Ali and Billie Jean King, along with many other movers and shakers of the world,  are all War Babies .

American historian Richard Pells contends 'that 'war babies' initiated most of the social and cultural movements in the 60's and 70's that boomers have claimed over the years!' 

No offence boomers - none taken I’m sure.

And what a time it was to grow up in Oz!

Cricket on the front nature strip, billy-carts careering down the hill, front doors left open, no television. The milkman, and the baker delivering in horse-drawn carts. And the iceman with blocks of ice on his shoulder. A Nation who sang with hand on heart on Empire Day, 'There'll always be an England'. A time of innocence where the news of the world was seen through filtered vision via the Movietone news at the cinema. And you learned about sex reading the Doctor's Book your mum kept hidden in the cupboard with the lift-up flaps that showed…well actually nothing. Not even a nipple. Just veins and arteries. Still, it was a start.

 

When education for working class girls was limited to - Domestic - how to cook and clean for your man - or Commercial - learning shorthand and typing so you could marry the boss, then cook and clean for him! Leave school at 15, get a job, pay board. University was only for the wealthy. Life was simple. The rules were clear.

A generation  who listened to  the radio at meal times and sang along with

'How much is that doggy in the window' until Elvis hit the airwaves with 'Heartbreak hotel" and shocked the nation. Then came rock and roll, Elvis’s hips, the pill and all hell broke loose.

 

The age of innocence was over.

This is the conditioning and the times of War Babies.

Our Wild Things.

                                                                                  Suzanne Hawley 2021

Cast

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Di Smith

Jackie

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Katrina Foster

Frances

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Helen O'Connor

Elizabeth

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Di Adams

Susan

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Lewis Fitz-gerald

Geoff

(and everyone else)

Tony Poli

Marco/Michael

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