Year 9 WWI Performance

‘…Australia Will Be There…’  Or  ‘…Cooee…digger! Who’ll come a Fightin’ the Kaiser with Me? We’ll drink all his beer, and eat up all his sausages. Who’ll come a fightin’ the Kaiser with me?’

Fightin’ the Kaiser is a one-man vaudevillian melodrama incorporating the songs, poems, letters, anecdotes, reportage and reminiscences of the ANZACS.

Glen Phillips plays Gassy, a wounded vet eternally inhabiting the no man’s land of a veteran’s hospital. He talks, sings, jokes and rails at ‘Young Tippen’, his best mate; ‘…long dead on Anzac…’ and now forever young in a portrait on his bureau.

Through caricature, larrikin humour and great WW1 songs, Gassy reflects upon the Great War. He jokes with Tippen about their recruitment in Sydney, teases him over their hi-jinks in Egypt, roars about the trials and tribulations of the Dardanelle’s and reflects on the great tragedy of the Western Front.

‘You were lucky to cop it on Anzac Tippen; you missed the worst of it.’

A powerful WW1 drama with a sense of humour and great songs.



Vietnam: Dusted Off

Brett Hunt grew up in a house often filled with Vietnam vets. His father, who had been brought to national attention through the lyric ‘Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon’, shared the feelings of isolation and alienation felt by many and always kept his door open for a fellow veteran needing a place to sleep.

Brett, listening to these men talk, developed an understanding of the war and its impact on the men and their families. He observed firsthand the intense feelings of alienation, the destructive effects of PTSD, the break down in family relationships and the impact on woman and children.

He also witnessed the camaraderie and brotherhood that these men had forged and their ability to support each other with humility, strength and a sense of humour.

Brett’s journey as the son of a Vietnam vet reached an emotional climax on the 3rd October 1987, when during the welcome home parade, he and his siblings found themselves onstage next to their father and John Schumann singing ‘I Was Only Nineteen’. In the Sydney Domain that day it is estimated that 60,000 people, veterans and their families, sang along.

In his play, Vietnam: Dusted Off, Brett, an accomplished actor and guitarist, shares his family story. He performs in the style of the Australian hits of the day – Normie Rowe, Col Joye, Johnny O’Keefe etc… as he tells of his mother Connie and his father Frank; who joined the army at 17, trained at Canungra jungle training centre, departed Townsville on the Vung Tau ferry and found himself a forward scout in the jungles of Vietnam.

After a mine contact Frank is dusted off to Vung Tau and repatriated home. Frank and Connie are determined to recover and build a loving family and a future; they are, however, confronted with a legacy of physical and emotional pain, the indifference of governments and the contempt of society.

‘The 40th anniversary of the first moon landing also marks the day of a tragic twin mine incident that killed two Australian soldiers and wounded 23 others during the Vietnam War. On 21 July, 1969, soldiers of A Company, 6RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion gathered around a radio to hear American astronaut Neil Armstrong declare “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he walked on the moon. Later, the Australian troops were patrolling in the Light Green region east of Hoi My as part of Operation Mundingburra when they triggered two mines. More than half of those wounded suffered such severe injuries that they were evacuated to Australia. Radio operator Private Frank Hunt, who was badly wounded in both legs, was later immortalized in the 1982 Redgum song I was only 19 with the line: “Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon”.’