A new play will tell the unbelievable true story of Australia’s greatest military defeat: The Tale of the Great Emu War. Researched and written by playwright Alex Kendall Robson, the play will premiere in September as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.
In 1932, at the urging of desperate West Australian farmers, the federal government sent in thearmy to deal with a plague of emus. Not long after, the government had to admit defeat as the emus were unstoppable. The play uses the form of verbatim or documentary theatre, relying on source material from the
1930s. But as the play is intended as a comedy, some poetic license has been taken.
“History is written by the victors, and as the emus won the war, I have told their side of the story as well. So whilst it is based on genuine historical accounts, I did have to make a lot of stuff up,like how the emus felt about being shot at.” Robson, who originally came from regional NSW, said he first heard of the Great Emu War
whilst playing Cards Against Humanity several years ago.
“Me and some mates were sitting around, drinking, and someone played ‘the Great Emu War’ cxard, and we all thought it was just a joke. Then I looked it up, and completely lost it. I don’t think we ended up finishing the game, because we were all in hysterics.” The cast is made up of seven professional and emerging actors, who play a mix of historical figures, soldiers and emus.
“Whilst the play is definitely a comedy, it touches on some really dark themes and troubling history. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll never look at an emu the same way again.”
The play runs from 20th-24th September in the Emerging Artist Share House in Erskineville.
Tickets available: https://sydneyfringe.com/events/the-tale-of-the-great-emu-war/
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