Directors Notes - Bryce Ives & Nathan Gilkes
We’re not on any specific mission.
We’re not attempting to rewrite history.
We’re not here to debunk mythology, or to be jingoistic, or to tell you what you want to hear, or to educate you on our perspective.
Instead, tonight, we present our shared investigation, as the Centenary of Australia’s involvement in the First World War dominates our national discourse.
We ask: what is war, and what does it do to the human animal?
Through our investigation, we wonder what we are capable off, remembering that our ensemble is roughly the same age as those women and men from Ballarat a century ago who signed up for King and Country.
We ask deep and personal questions of politics, of memory, conflict, of the scars that still exist today. Some of tonight may be poignant, other bits will be hard. We make no apologies for that. There is no one answer. War must be the most complicated and complex topic one can investigate.
We nod in appreciation, not towards governments that often make unfair and harsh policy, but instead to the women and men who today are still fighting in conflicts around the world.
We remember the victims, those that are documented and still make our nightly news bulletins, and equally those that we ignore or forget.
We wonder why so many women and men, Australian soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, are committing suicide. Over 250 since those two conflicts begin.
We feel disgusted that in Ballarat we have veterans who are homeless. With so much money spent this year commemorating ANZAC Day, it's vulgar to think men and women who served live in poverty.
We wonder what would we do if we had served in Vietnam, or PNG, or in France or Gallipoli.
We feel honoured that so many members of the Ballarat community have been willing to sit with us in this investigation. To talk, to share stories, to inform our workTo reveal pain and love, loss and fear. We particularly acknowledge the Ballarat RSL and the Ballarat Legacy Club. organisations that continue to do so much good work, often under recognised and under-celebrated. We acknowledge Sing Australia, the City of Ballarat and many others who have gone out of their way to help us.
We acknowledge our elders, the senior members of the Ballarat community who have offered us wisdom and advice. We especially acknowledge our Indigenous brothers and sisters, who were almost written out of the history of Gallipoli, yet they were there.
We acknowledge Joan Littlewood, one of the greatest theatre makers of all time. A woman who literally shook the foundations of everything around her. We take inspiration from her to be bold, be inquisitive and to remain committed to training.
We thank the Arts Academy for opening its doors and letting us share this conversation through so many means: in concerts, on the street, in art galleries, in conventions, in one-on-one conversations, in morning teas, in social media. Federation University has had no agenda and asked for no control. We particularly acknowledge two brave and remarkable artists: Kim Durban and Angela Campbell, who remain fierce in their commitment to excellence in training.
Finally, we acknowledge the graduating acting company, who have grown through this process. They are willing to open their eyes, sit in empathy and ask the unanswerable question: why?
Personally we dedicate this to our grandparents. Blue-collar workers, who signed up and fought. During this investigation our thoughts have turned to them.
Nathan Gilkes & Bryce Ives, May 2015