Playwright Jan Nary has gained a Platinum Gold Palm award for The Other Diggers, her play outlining the work of the Land Army women and performed by Theatre Redlands at the Redland Museum in June, 2023.
“The award is sitting on my desk looking beautiful. I feel gratified to have my hard work acknowledged. Everything worthwhile takes work and it is really nice to be appreciated.”
Jan said she saw it as further acknowledgement of the women who worked the farms during the second world war.
“These women were unsung heroes and history has ignored them. Did you know that their terms of employment were not finalised until the war had finished?” she said.
The award was given to an individual who has supplied, staged or appeared in a production or who has given service to the theatrical community that is considered outstanding.
Jan’s inspiration to write The Other Diggers came from a talk given by Cr Paul Bishop in 2022 on the Queensland’s first permanent Land Army camp at Birkdale.
“I thought ‘there’s a play in this’. The only bit of paper I had was a half-finished crossword and I scribbled down the words and kept it. And yes, I did finish the crossword,” she said.
So began her research and a bid to find surviving members of the Land Army. She met and interviewed Auria Nixon, of Toowoomba and later Elsie Stiller (now deceased) from the Redlands.
“There were huge gaps in the knowledge. The Queensland records were destroyed after the war,” she said.
The information was further shared at a forum, held at the Birkdale community Hall in August where excerpts from the play were performed.
“Auria and Elsie were able to come and if nothing else came from writing the play, meeting these women was the cherry on the cake,” Jan said.
“Theatre is a great way of storytelling. Theatre is powerful. The museum is full of things and everything has a story. If you can’t find out what it is, you can imagine it.
“I have also unearthed talent. There are people who say they would never get on a stage,” she said.
- Platinum Gold Palm award The award is given to an individual who has supplied, staged or appeared in a production or who has given service to the theatrical community that is considered outstanding.
- Theatre Redlands is a community-based theatre company, started by Jan and committed to bringing local history to life at the Redland Museum.
- Jan has written numerous plays including Women of their Word and two performed for Halloween. When Darkness Moves, performed in 2020 gained the Golden Palm Judges Discretionary and Platinum awards.