By Daniel KeeneDrama Sydney Theatre Company
The Long Way Home
This highly original play is the result of a collaboration between the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Theatre Company and writer Daniel Keene.
‘I think it’s important for the public to hear the stories that these soldiers have to tell,’ says Keene. ‘They represent Australia, they act in our name. But does the public actually know what they’ve been doing or what they’ve achieved?’
Produced in consultation and partnership with returned military personnel suffering physical and psychological injuries, it allows these soldiers to tell their stories – and invites the public into their experiences so they might better understand them.
Keene has not used the soldiers’ stories verbatim, documentary-style, but rather adapted and stitched them into a narrative that represents their experiences. The result is a collage of scenes that range from the combat zone to hospital beds, men cleaning the house all night because they can’t sleep, and marriages crumbling under the pressure of men broken and unable to communicate.
The Sydney Morning Herald called it ‘a powerful, humanising and evidently healing experience’.
It’s appropriate that this exceptional work is prefaced by lines from Homer’s The Odyssey; it is a modern epic, utterly timely yet transcendent of its historical moment. Developed through extensive collaboration with Australian soldiers who have been deployed across the globe, The Long Way Home skilfully re-articulates their experiences in a dazzling succession of very memorable vignettes. It is not polemic, but neither is it apolitical. To muster the levels of compassion demanded by this project itself requires great and unflinching bravery, and Keene has risen to the task admirably. There are neither heroes nor villains in this telling, but the gradual accretion of intimate moments produces an expansive tapestry illustrating the ways in which vast power structures shape all of our lives.
The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist