Page 36

people. Yeah, and that ego thing is a very important one to kind of manage in the creative arts, I think. Because yeah, the play is the thing, that you are all serving the writing. GTR: That is the vehicle. And if you flatten its tires, or crash it, then it’s not going to happen for you anymore, I suppose. Can you tell us about Hallowed Ground, Catherine, what is the story for those who haven’t heard about it? CH: So, Hallowed Ground comes from another passion. A passion of Helen Hopkins and Carolyn Bock, who were very, they produced Girls in Grey and wrote and produced that a couple of years back. And there were very, very interesting female stories and then they started looking through that research at the history of women doctors in the armed forces. And it led them to a wonderful doctor, called Susan Neuhaus who spent 25 years as a doctor. And I think she ended up a colonel and served in Afghanistan for a while. And she wrote a wonderful book, Not For Glory, which is, and you know, I think it’s a century of service and medical women out to the Australian army and it’s our life. And from there the girls read that and they actually contacted Susan and Susan had been such a champion of the work as well, just ... She was so excited to collaborate with Helen and Carolyn and she provided ongoing feedback on every script and the stories. So, Hallowed Ground it’s a story of, it focuses on four female doctors but it also has other stories that of other female medics who have worked in the armed forces or with the allies. And it’s around their personal journeys. And so you’ve got four women, one woman from, who served in the first world war, another female doctor who served in the second world war. Both women were unable to serve with the Australian army because of the rules of the Australian army. One went and worked with the Scottish Women’s Hospital and one in world war two, the British Army was then accepting female doctors. Then we had another two more contemporary doctors. One who worked in Afghanistan and one who served in Iran. Iraq, sorry. Served in Iraq. And it’s their individual stories but the four women, which is a wonderful thing that the writers have done, are placed in the same time. So they’re baptised into a space where they meet each other and they are learning, learning from each other and they, so the four women are on stage all the time. But it’s just a beautiful things where they’re reflecting back and being challenged by kind of new medicine, and new rules, and the women who are the younger doctors are being, you know, really impressed is probably the wrong word there. They’re understanding the genesis of their journey as well. So it’s a really, it’s personal, it raises beautiful things. This sacrifice, you know, what women these women, but women in particular give up in order to serve. But also the values important for these doctors, these women who choose

to do military medicine. Who choose to serve. And where their values are in bedded in a sense of service and a sense of, you know, commitment to country. And so it’s a really, you can feel the conflict in each of their journeys as they have to give up, you know. GTR: Yes, a commitment to humanity, Catherine. CH: Yes, that’s right. It’s at the expense of their own personal, you know, lives, so they’ll miss the sixth grade graduation, and they’ll miss birthdays, and they’ll return home, and their little child will say, “Are you my mum?” Like, all those things that they have to deal with but they, so you feel that ongoing conflict within their own minds but it’s overridden by their values, and they need to serve. GTR: It sounds like it was a great education for you? CH: It was, it really was. I’ve never even heard of the Scottish Women’s Hospital or Elsie Inglis, who set that up. I’d never realized that there were women, a number of women who fought and actually fought to, go and serve and how important that was to them to what lengthens they went to. GTR: And not being allowed, and not being allowed to join the Australian army, was that right? CH: That’s right. So it’s think the Australian army was only towards the end of world war two, started accepting female doctors. But, so our female Dr. Mary, in world war two she went, she went to, she served in the British. She was from Warrandyte and she served in the British army. She was working with the allies, she ended up treating or meeting a lot of Australians. GTR: It sounds like an amazing plan. I can visualize the four women on the stage and going through that thing of helping, and assisting, and supporting each other with the time thing there, all together at the one time. Which is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. What, so I believe, Hallowed Ground is playing at the Adelaide Fringe? CH: It is, yes. So it opens next week at the Adelaide Fringe, on Friday but I think we have the preview. And Saturday night, I think it starts five performances. For the Adelaide fringe it’s been a great journey in terms of we’ve had to , because of the nature of the Fringe we’ve had to edit the piece down from its initial, I think about 83 minutes to 61 minutes and 30 seconds now. But it’s been a great task and challenge for the writers to come back with myself, and we were just going through what is the essence. What is the most important, how do we maintain the story and strip it back? So it’s been a great writing challenge, and I ran the show yesterday, and it was just looking beautiful. I just was really pleased with what the girls had come up with. And we’re doing a regional tour of Victoria in June. We’ll be doing the full length play, which is wonderful and also we are working with the most beautiful designer, Meg White and Richard Farber,

34  THE LAST POST – 2019 ANZAC DAY EDITION

whose doing our lightening design. Both wonderful, ridiculously creative people. Meg designed the most stunning set and the set is made of this amazing panels that are made, that provide a landscape that they’re often made out of old medical equipment and it’s ... They’re just beautiful and for Adelaide, we, because we’re working the Fringe, she’s designed another set based on photographs of her original set. So because we’re using a projected backdrop, so it’s, they’re truly beautiful. GTR: What’s next for you? I mean this is obviously, this is going to take up a fair bit of your future there, but how far do you plan ahead? CH: Look, it depends. It really is, I never seem to have much down time in terms of I always ... My partner is a writer, and I’ve got on the back burner a beautiful piece of his called, Burned for You, which is a music theatre two-hander that is around a marginally violent relationship. And I would love to, we’ve already done a concert version of it and I really want to get that up and on. But I’m also, I’m in, you know, I always think if you’re not a little bit scared you’re not really living. So I directed a feature film last year and at the moment I’m still trying to finalize an edit. So that’s something that I really will be trying to get to over at some point this year. GTR: Does that film have a name? CH: it’s called, Some Happy Day. Please, please like our Facebook page and our Instagram and please keep an eye on it because it is completely independent. And it’s around, I worked in a crisis centre so I, my part-time work is working with, generally people who are homeless or in crisis. Whether that’s mental health or drug and alcohol or trauma backgrounds. And so on. Some Happy Days. Yeah and I worked with a whole lot of community to produce it and direct it. We’re at the half way point, because I’m in post and I’ve got a commitment to get completed by November this year. GTR: So, Hallowed Ground staring at the Fringe and then, of course, in Regional Victoria later this year. So keep check that out for people listening on radio. And we wish you all the best for the future too, Catherine. We’ll keep an eye on you and would love to continue the promotion whenever we can. CH: Look, wonderful, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. It’s been lovely talking to you and I do hope I get to meet you on Friday night. If you are in Adelaide please come, that would be wonderful. GTR: I will look forward to it in the hope I can get there Catherine. Your passion for the arts is of great worth and yeah, I hope to get there. Hallowed Ground. An amazing story and, by the sounds of it, an amazing play. You spoke about it wonderfully. CH: Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. You’ve made it a really easy journey. And it’s been lovely speaking with you.  n

Profile for The Last Post Magazine

The Last Post Magazine Anzac Day 2019  

In 2019 TLP editor Greg T Ross visited Japan under the Japan-Australia Grassroots Exchange Programme. To commemorate the visit and the prog...

The Last Post Magazine Anzac Day 2019  

In 2019 TLP editor Greg T Ross visited Japan under the Japan-Australia Grassroots Exchange Programme. To commemorate the visit and the prog...

Advertisement