Another milestone on the road to recognition of Indigenous war service is the Black Diggers Project currently being developed for the 2014 Sydney Festival. This is significant in two ways. It not only means that Aboriginal soldiers already have a much deserved place in the international commemorations to mark the 2014 centenary of World War I but because it is a dramatic event, the Black Diggers will be directly communicating to an audience with a power and immediacy beyond the scope of the written word.
The work is being written and directed by Wesley Enoch, artistic director of the Queensland Theatre Company and an award-winning playwright. Enoch, who is a Noonuccal Nuugi man from StradbrokeIsland, sees the Black Diggers as part of the righting of the public record about Indigenous service:
“For me there’s something about unfinished business here; our national psyche hasn’t yet come to rest and until we connect with the indigenous history of this land, the wars that have happened in this country, let alone the wars that have happened offshore, we will always feel that discomfort. A story like this, that’s connected to a 100-year re-evaluation of our country and our primary narrative, and to insert and make sure indigenous stories are part of that, I think could be quite a moving moment.” Interview with Wesley Enoch quoted in Jane Albert ‘Festival airing for untold Diggers’ tale’, The Australian, 23 November, 2012.
Research for the project began in July 2012 and will be followed by a period for creative development between March and September 2013. Rehearsal is scheduled for December 2013 followed by the world premiere in January 2014.
Philippa Scarlett 3 January 2013