25 September 2023

War Memorial to stage acting event

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The Australian War Memorial in Canberra has launched a theatrical attraction which captures the emotional struggle for Australian families at the end of World War I.

Epitaph, a new museum theatre piece featuring actor Kristian Jenkins (pictured), is being performed in the Memorial’s Anzac Hall regularly until the end of June 2019.

The piece was created through a collaboration between the Memorial and Canberra’s Street Theatre, with support from Lockheed Martin Australia.

Director of the War Memorial, Brendan Nelson said the piece explores the traumatic task of writing an epitaph for loved ones buried in faraway lands, creating a connection to a place where the memory of a particular individual could be recalled and kept alive.

Dr Nelson said the piece was powerful and raw and would personally engage visitors in the Memorial’s galleries.

“It often fell to mothers and wives to sit forlornly at their kitchen tables to write an epitaph for a grave they would never see,” Dr Nelson said.

Epitaphs speak to us of loss and love,” he said.

“Within the 66 characters allowed by authorities, they had to find the words to give meaning to the loss of a much loved son, husband or father.”

Dr Nelson said Mr Jenkins played Frank, a returned soldier in Ballarat, Victoria, on Anzac Day in 1930.

He said Frank narrates the emotional and intellectual challenges of war during a 10-minute monologue.

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