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Black Diggers by Tom Wright


THEMES: Belonging, War, Identity, Race, Indigenous Themes


LENGTH: 2 Hours
Cast Size
CAST SIZE: 9 + Cast Members
Target Audience
   PLAYWRIGHT: Tom Wright
$ 24.95
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 (Black Diggers was first produced by Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Festival, and presented by Sydney Festival in association with The Balnaves Foundation, premiering in the Drama Theatre at the Sydney Opera House on January 18, 2014.)

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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.

Written by Tom Wright and originally directed by Wesley Enoch, 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.

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"Black Diggers avoids all the traps of black victimhood, expositional history, and simplistic politics. It will emerge as an important landmark of our theatre." - Artshub

"Not just one of the highlights of this year’s festival but a new high point in telling a national narrative on the stage." - The Guardian 

"Black Diggers is an evocative play... richly detailed, with dialogue full of Australian slang and phrases that sound authentic." - Stage Whispers

"At its heart, it serves as a reminder that an Australian is an Australian - no matter our colour, our creed or our experiences." - Sydney Morning Herald

ISBN: 978 1 921390 81 4

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