Finborough courts controversy with The One Day of the Year

One Day Of The Year

Alan Seymour’s controversial drama, The One Day of the Year, comes to London’s Finborough Theatre next week and its producers are hoping for a quiet opening.

It large scale protests in Australia following its opening in 1960 with a policeman stationed at the stage door to ward off the angry public, while death threats were sent to the author.

Last seen in the UK at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1961, this production rediscovers an Australian theatre classic.

Wayne Harrison, former artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company, will direct Mark Little, Fiona Press, Adele Querol and James William Wright.

Seymour, who died last month at the age of 87, became known in Britain for his contribution to BBC television drama but made his name with The One Day of the Year.

The Defibrillator Theatre production, commissioned by the Finborough Theatre as part of its GreatWar100 series to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, opens on May 21, with previews from Tuesday. It runs until June 13.

Is ANZAC Day just an excuse for “one long grog-up” or is it a day when Australians reflect on those who have paid the ultimate price?

One of Australia’s most popular plays, The One Day of the Year explores the universal theme of father-son conflict against the background of the beery haze and the heady, nostalgic sentimentality of ANZAC Day – Australia’s equivalent of Remembrance Sunday – and a sacred cow among Australian annual celebrations.

For war veterans like Alf and his friend Wacka, ANZAC Day is an opportunity to commemorate history and the forging of Australia’s national identity.

For Alf’s son Hughie, reacting against everything his father stands for, ANZAC Day is a just an out-of-date nationalist nostalgia fest, so he decides to do a photo-essay for a magazine portraying the “real” celebration of the day: ex-servicemen passed out in the gutter in an alcoholic stupor…

Marking the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign and taking place during a year of world-wide ceremonies commemorating the battle, the production is presented as part of the annual Australia and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts.

Playwright Alan Seymour (1927 – 2015) was born in Fremantle, Western Australia. Known as a playwright, novelist, television writer and producer, and theatre critic, his plays include Swamp Creatures, The Gaiety of Nations, A Break in the Music, The Pope and the Pill, The Shattering and The Float.

He also wrote novels including The Coming Self-Destruction of the United States and spent time working for the BBC for which he wrote adaptations of L.P. Hartley’s Eustace and Hilda, Antonia White’s Frost in May and John Masefield’s The Box of Delights.

Mark Little (Joe Mangel in Neighbours) plays Alf. He recently appeared in the Richard O’Brien comedy, Shock Treatment, at Islington’s King’s Head. His other theatre credits include Defending the Caveman (UK tour and West End – Olivier Award for Best Entertainment), Cosi (White Bear)& A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Stafford Castle).

His television work includes Ladies of Letters, Whites, The Flying Doctors, Waterfront and The Dunera Boys; and for film, Icon (Lance Armstrong biopic directed by Stephen Frears), An Indecent Obsession, Short Changed, Cry in the Dark and Nirvana Street Murder.

Fiona Press is an experienced stage actor in Australia and has performed in a number of plays directed by Wayne Harrison for the Sydney Theatre Company including Two Weeks with the Queen, Anthony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Shadowlands, Third World Blues.

Adele Querol has played Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Sydney Theatre Company), Romeo and Juliet (Bell Shakespeare), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Sport for Jove Theatre Company) and The Importance of Being Earnest (Darlinghurst Theatre).

James William Wright has appeared in The Credeaux Canvas (The Seymour Centre), November Spawned a Monster (Fly On The Wall Theatre), Once in Royal David’s City (Belvoir Street Theatre), Relative Merits, Butterflies Are Free, Three Winters Green (Lambert House Enterprises) and Orpheus in the Underworld (Opera Australia).

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