30 April 2017
National Pride and Prejudice: An Aussie Satirist's View
This May Pymble Players present Australia Day as the second production in their 60th anniversary year.
Australia Day, the play, was penned by actor, writer and satirist Jonathan Biggins after he did a spell as an Australia Day ambassador in regional Australia.
During his Australia Day ambassador travels two things became quickly apparent to Biggins:
Firstly, in rural New South Wales no-one had heard of him.
Secondly, being of “inner-city, bleeding-heart leftie persuasion” Biggins' ambivalence towards the national holiday was ultimately challenged by the passion and commitment of the country people he met organising traditional Australia Day celebrations.
“At the grass roots, people have a lot more at stake as individuals. This is their community; they shape it at the micro level and it's not so easy to generalise, trivialise or dismiss their attitudes when you meet them on a personal level.” Biggins wrote afterwards.
This is not to say the comic writer did not also observe with a critical eye the idiosyncrasies and foibles of the Australia Day committee members he met.
His satirical take on the experience, Australia Day, was first produced by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2012.
Pymble director Jan McLachlan has decided to set Pymble Players' Australia Day in the year the play was first produced.
Season Starting: Wednesday, 3rd of May (click on "Upcoming Events" for exact times.)
Address: Corner of Mona Vale Road & Bromley Avenue, Pymble NSW 2073
McLachlan said the theme of racism was prominent, so were disability and gender issues, political corruption, and the notion of what it means to be an Australian.
“These are all underlying - people will get it.” McLachlan said.
“Five or six years ago boat people and immigration were topical. These issues will still resonate with audiences, because they have not been resolved.”
McLachlan said Indigenous rights were also touched on, but Indigenous people are not represented in the play. She said the ensemble production, set in a “fictitious, but very probable New South Wales country town” would remind audiences of people they have known. But McLachlan said she encouraged the actors not to simply play to stereotypes.
“The characters had to be real.” McLachlan said.
McLachlan warned people to leave their ideas about political correctness outside the theatre, and said Biggins basically “has a go at everyone”.
“Jonathan Biggins is a very funny, clever writer. He sets out to be pointed, almost to the extreme of being offensive… Everyone will find something funny, and something poignant.” She said.
McLachlan is a retired Macquarie University lecturer in creative arts. Although she is a current member of the Sydney Opera House’s distinguished Ladies’ Committee, she said this did not colour her directorial vision for Australia Day.
Australia Day plays May 3-27, 2017 See the Review for Australia Day
Performers and Crew
Melanie Brooker and Peter Wright
Penny Macoun and Angela Smith
Graham Boswell and Ian Ackland
Reg Lunn, Lionel Willison, Charles Williams, Ian Ackland and Rene Bartel