ANZAC Day will always be about remembering the fallen.
And that’s why the play The One Day of the Year, which has caused so much controversy in its time, still holds its own on the stage.
The Beechworth Theatre Company will launch its Centenary of Anzac commemorative program tomorrow, a highlight of which will be the Alan Seymour play from the 1960s.
Company secretary John Eldrid, who served in the Royal Australian Air Force for 29 years, remembers seeing the play in the 1980s in Sydney when it was still causing waves.
He acknowledges how close to home the story- line came, given his own Anzac Day experiences.
“In my early days, we got farmed out to the RSLs. We did the march and then went back to the RSL and were plied with liquor,” he said.
“That is what it’s all about — a young boy and all he saw was the way they commemorated with alcohol.
“Anzac Day is very different now, but this is a good play and people will think about what was done in the past on Anzac Day and how things have changed.”
The One Day of the Year premiered in 1962 and, while it caused a real stir among RSLs and conservatives, it turned out to be one of Australia’s most popular plays, touring throughout the country.
It’s about a father, a returned soldier, for who Anzac Day gives meaning to his life.
His son, a university student, believes the day has become meaningless and questions it as a national commemoration.
Mr Eldrid said the play was a reminder that Anzac Day was still important today, regardless of how it was commemorated.
“It’s still about remem- bering the fallen — that’s never changed,” he said.
“Things are changing now because we have families and children of veterans are marching very proudly down the street with their fathers’, grandfathers’ and great grandfathers’ medals, and this is a way of remembering them.”
The theatre company will present the play at the memorial hall on the last weekend in October and first weekend of November.
Other features of the company’s program include essay writing and multimedia competitions to appeal to school children, and a memorabilia exhibition.
Mr Eldrid said the program was designed with the next generation in mind.
“The idea of the project is that children are the RSL’s future because the veterans are getting older,” he said.
Funding has come from the Federal Government’s Anzac Centenary grants program.
All MPs were handed $125,000 to support Great War projects.
Member for Indi Cathy McGowan will launch the program at the Beechworth RSL Club at 4.30pm tomorrow.
For more information, phone chairman David McKay on 0407 057 894 or secretary John Eldrid on 0417 054 553.