Interview :: All But Won
September 19th 2011
Nick La Rosa
Arts graduate Julian Larnach wrote this play sitting "on the back of a ute in a paddock." Over the uni holidays he went back home to the bush to old friends and some new ghosts and wrote until the characters climbed over the hills and on to his page.
Julian wrote the story of an Australian solider, who signed up for combat after 9/11. He returns home for the funeral of the girl he left behind, and finds the one-horse town simmering silently with love, rage and confusion.
FBi: How do you feel before the opening of the show? Are things unfolding the way you expected?
Julian: The show’s faced a lot of speed bumps along the way. The original director dropped out, a few actors have been switched and the cast and crew is exceptionally busy all the time – I’ve been told that that’s the nature of amateur theatre but I’m constantly in awe of the professional nature of the entire team. Needless to say I’m shitting myself about the opening of the show. I’m shitting myself about every night of the show. I’ll be the guy in the audience each night with the trench coat and the cap looking more at the crowd then at the stage.
The themes will resonate strongly now, around the 9/11 tenth anniversary. Did you aim for this time frame?
The play is set about four years ago, when opinions were still pretty polarised over the Coalition presence in Iraq – earlier on everyone knew it was a great idea and now everyone knows it was wrong. That said, the modern Australian mindset is a lot more accommodating about soldiering. I think that stems from the fact that we’re a relatively peaceful nation; we don’t have a war-fighting armed force, we have a peace-keeping armed force. So when people join up to the army in Australia, for whatever reason, be it learning a trade, skilling up or deep patriotic urges, it’s more accepted by the general public then it would elsewhere in the world. Now, although the play is centered on an Australian soldier coming home, I don’t think it’s about war. I think it’s more about the effects of war and soldiering on someone’s personality – if they’re loud they become louder, if they’re on edgy they become more erratic, if they’ve got problems…well. The heightened state of war really amplifies what’s going on inside someone’s head, especially when they take a step back from it.
What will the show look and feel like? What kind of aesthetic decisions have you made?
Jenna Martin (the director) has gone with a sparse aesthetic letting the characters really speak for themselves – you’ll have to suspend your disbelief for a bit but that’s what the actors are there to help you with. The play has been stripped back a lot. Since the play is set so soon after a girl’s death, the characters are still in shock and are very ham-fisted with their reactions and emotions. It’s a very Australian play. I don’t just mean it’s set in Australia with Australian accents but the interactions between characters are Australian. They are a little mocking, a little tongue in cheek and in this particular scenario, men in denial and in beer while women are mother-henning and keeping it together for everyone.
How will punters feel when they leave the theatre after seeing your show?
When we were filling out our application for the Fringe Festival one of the questions they asked was “what will audiences get out of it?” We rattled on about how rural Australia is by simple distance on the fringe of