A new production unveils a different side to Australian war history.
It’s the start of the five-year long centenary commemoration for the soldiers who fought in WWI and WWII, but there’s a gaping hole in the story of mateship that’s defined our nation; a hole that Queensland Theatre Company’s new production Black Diggers hopes to fill.
The tales of Indigenous soldiers who went to war have long been silenced or forgotten, says Eliah Watego, part of the ensemble cast.
“It’s not widely spoken about, these Indigenous men who were mistreated their whole lives and were still willing to fight for people that didn’t even care about them,” he says. “I think it’s a major responsibility telling that story – not necessarily just our play, I think it just needs to be shared.”
Watego, who had family who fought in both world wars, says the play sheds light on the plight of these soldiers.
“White Australians were not the only ones that went to war,” he says. “It’s just making audiences aware of these men that literally gave their all when they weren’t even treated like humans.
“Most of the time they were treated better at war, and when they came back it went back to being bad again.”
The play will be streamed live to theatres across the state in a Queensland first.
“It’s an Australian story and it’s massive – the role and responsibility of sharing the story should go around Australia,” says Watego. “There are more Australian stories that need to be told and shared with the world. I think this is a good stepping stone.”
Black Diggers will be performed from 24 September to 12 October at QPAC. Visit our event guide for more info.