Playwright draws upon real war tales

The full cast of Long Tan. Photo courtesy Kate Purdey and State Theatre Company.

The horror of the Battle of Long Tan comes vividly to life in the latest production of Flinders PhD Verity Laughton’s powerful play.

The Brink Productions-State Theatre Company show Long Tan – at the Space Theatre until 8 April – draws on the aftermath of the savage 1966 battle which Ms Laughton bases upon the recollections of Vietnam War veterans for real authenticity.

Award-winning playwright Verity Laughton, who has written more than 30 works produced nationally and overseas, is exploring doctoral studies in creative writing at Flinders on the themes of ‘blood, politics and trauma in the contemporary and historical playwriting of extreme events’.

The play was inspired by her 2016 STC production, The Red Cross Letters, another piece of verbatim theatre which uses the actual words of real people.

“During my (Long Tan) research, I spoke to as many veterans of the battle as would talk to me (and many wouldn’t); their friends and families; other soldiers; and to a number of Vietnamese people, too,” she says.

“… this play tells the story of Delta Company, 6RAR on the 18th August, 1966, who experienced something most of us will never approach in our lifetimes, and who have had to live with that.

“We have tried to tell it with compassion and integrity. I hope we have done them justice.”

Battle sounds and other narratives of the fierce battle are used in the production.

Also starring in Long Tan are 2014 Flinders Drama Centre graduates Stuart Fong,  Antoine Jelk and Taylor Wiese – all extending a long-running association between Flinders University and the STC.

Next in the 2017 STC SA program is a comedy adaptation of Mr Burns, based on the evil character from the long-running television series, The Simpsons.

Mr Burns (22 April to 13 May at Space Theatre) is written by experimental playwright Anne Washburn and “imagines a shatteringly funny post-apocalyptic world where The Simpsons becomes the new global religion”.

Flinders graduate Jude Henshall features in the cast, while another Flinders graduate Corey McMahon will direct the following STC production – 1984 (13-24 May at Her Majesty’s Theatre).

The Australian cast of the adaptation of George Orwell’s seminal novel 1984 features some of Australia’s best stage actors Tom Conroy, Paul Blackwell, Terence Crawford, Ursula Mills, Renato Musolino, Guy O’Grady, Yalin Ozucelik and Fiona Press.

It will tour nationally until August. For more information www.statetheatrecompany.com.au

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