28 March 2024

Wagga playwright Adrian Hallam takes Sydney theatregoers 'Under Eureka'

| Chris Roe
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Adrian Hallam’s play Under Eureka will debut in Sydney this weekend as part of Short + Sweet. Photo: Chris Roe.

Adrian Hallam is a familiar presence in Wagga’s community theatre scene as an actor and aspiring playwright and he’s about to take his work to the big smoke.

His play Under Eureka will debut in Sydney this weekend as part of Short + Sweet, “the biggest short-play festival in the world”.

“Short + Sweet is a global thing with performances in many different countries and cities around the world, including Sydney,” Adrian explained.

“It’s for 10-minute plays and this year they had almost 1700 submitted, and then out of that there’s a shortlist of about 80 and then only about 60 of those will be produced.

“Mine is such an Australian story that I was pretty surprised it’s been included!”

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Adrian said he was “overwhelmed” to learn that his play had been selected and would be brought to life by first-time director Daniel MacKenzie.

“I’d been on the shortlist before, but when I found out I’d had a director it was a bit of a shock, really,” he said.

“The way it works is that directors put down their top-10 scripts that they are willing to do and then they get assigned.

“So the fact that someone actually had put my play down, and it was going to be produced, was a big thing.”

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Under Eureka is the fourth play that Adrian has written and was originally submitted for Wagga’s annual Ten X 10 Playfest with the School of Arts Community Theatre (SoACT).

He said the idea came to him during a visit to Ballarat, where the Eureka Stockade miners’ rebellion took place in 1854.

“I was down at Sovereign Hill in Victoria and on Main Street there’s a claim there, one of the old mine shafts, and they have these voices playing from the miners down the bottom,” Adrian explained.

“So I had this idea: what would it be like to be underneath Eureka and to hear it all happening and trying to decide where you stood?

“The play is about three Irish miners, two of them down the claim and one of them’s brother is up above.

“They’ve been through the potato famine and all the political upheaval and they came to Australia to find a new life, but of course, they are caught up in our first real political uprising here.”

poster for a play

Under Eureka was selected from about 1700 plays to be performed at Short + Sweet Sydney. Photo: Supplied.

Adrian said the play was a dialogue between the pair underground as one sought to join the uprising and the other hoped to steer clear.

“It’s a story about the consequences of actions and the consequences of choices,” he reflected.

“Things haven’t changed that much and there’s still lots of causes out there.

“It’s not about making a political statement one way or the other, but I wanted to look at the cost of being involved with a cause.”

Adrian and his wife, Heather, will head to Sydney this weekend to see the play performed for the first time on stage in Ultimo.

“It’s always a weird feeling when you’re seeing your play on stage and wondering whether they will get what you meant,” he said with a laugh.

Under Eureka will be staged at Turner Hall in Ultimo from 28-31 March and you can learn more about Short + Sweet on its website.

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