108: Snapshots from Home

7 Jul

Margery Forde’s Snapshots from Home was commissioned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII in the Pacific. 24 oral history stories were taken and Forde was given 600 pages of transcripts from the interviews. From these she fashioned a touching and insightful look at the impact of the war on some of the young people who lived through it.

Snapshots from home

The play has been written to be played by four actors, but it could also be played with a large cast. Music plays an integral part and the cast need to be able to sing and dance to old numbers like Chattanooga Choo Choo, It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye.

The lines in the play are divided between four voices, with the character they’re playing denoted in brackets.

VOICE 2 (PRIMARY SCHOOLGIRL): I lived at Graceville. Dad was sure that when the Japanese came, the first thing they’d do would be to bomb the Indooroopilly Bridge. But I went off to All Hallows every day knowing that I was quite safe. If the bridge was bombed and I wasn’t able to get home, the nuns would look after me. The nuns could pray like nobody’s business. They were going to fix everything.

There’s a lot of nostalgia in the script as you’d expect from a verbatim piece about people’s memories. But there’s also a reminder that times weren’t as innocent as we’d like to think.

VOICE 4 (YOUNG MAN): We didn’t see much of the black Americans. They had to stay on the far side of the river, at South Brizzie. There was a place called the Dr. Carver club. It was just opposite the railway station. They said it had the best music in town.

VOICE 2 (YOUNG WOMAN): We never saw American Negroes in Queen Street. And of course, they didn’t come to our homes.

VOICE 3 (A BOY): I was fourteen years old when the Americans came and I’d never seen a black person. Never seen an Aboriginal. The first American Negro I saw I nearly dropped dead with fright.

VOICE 1 (YOUNG WOMAN): They were these huge beautiful looking men. You’d see truckloads of them travelling along Sandgate Road.

VOICE 2: I wouldn’t have gone out with a black America … but then I wouldn’t have gone out with a white one either.

[…]

VOICE 2: They came out here to fight for our country and they weren’t allowed to mix with ordinary people. We rejected them.

Margery Forde has structured Snapshots from Home really well so that instead of just reminiscing, the play is shaped thematically and chronologically and travels from the start of the war to the celebrations at the end, including the haunting images of the return of the prisoners of war.

Publisher: Playlab Press

Cast: 2M, 2F or a cast of many

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