About The Round Earth Company, a professional theatre company in Strahan, Tasmania

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Prisoner of War - Sketch


22,000 young Australians.
We sent them to fight the Japanese.
They became Prisoners of War.
They were made slaves.
One in three of them died.
We brought back the survivors
and cheered them
through the streets of Sydney.
We sent them home.

And we forgot about them.

A Bright and Crimson Flower

A Celebration of Survival
Crimson Flower logo

The fascinating and inspiring story of Australian Prisoners of War under the Japanese 1942-45.

The captivity of 22,000 young Australians after the fall of Singapore and the battles of Timor, Ambon and Java in 1942 lasted for three and a half years under appalling conditions. One in three died but the others made it back home. It is the greatest feat of endurance in the history of modern Australia. Yet we have largely ignored this extraordinary story, or else have seen it as a sideshow to the 'real' war, remembered principally for its horror and cruelty, and therefore best forgotten.

Official interviews with survivors were geared to accounts of atrocities committed by the Japanese; the rest was disregarded. Families were advised not to discuss the experience with the men. The process of forgetting had begun. But the experience of the men and women was one of a stubborn will to survive, of wit and ingenuity, comradeship and care, even in the worst of times, qualities that never go out of fashion - and that's what this play is all about.

Six Aussie blokes, young and not so young - Doug, Blue, Wag, Ray, Snow and Spud - held prisoner by the army of a people whose language and customs they know almost nothing about: their world has vanished. To survive they have to re-invent themselves! They take classes in everything from advertising to vitamins, they scrounge, pilfer, improvise, build and conceal radios, and quite apart from building the Burma Railway under horrendous conditions, they organize sports carnivals, mount theatrical productions and create everything from false teeth to surgical instruments - and end the war by playing a cricket match!

Written by Richard Davey from interviews and writings, diaries and letters by Prisoners of War, published and unpublished.

The cricket match that ended the war

The cricket match that ended the war

They never bloody found it!!

They never bloody found it!!

This saga of survival of spirit among POWs, is a poignant and glorious tribute, a major contribution to the understanding, across generations, of an episode in Australia's history which helped shape Australia's nationhood.

Wayne Crawford: Hobart Mercury

It was a moving and memorable experience that rolled back the years. You captured just right the spirit of those dramatic times: the humour, the hardship, the mateship and the sadness. My thanks, and those of my family: it told them many things I never have or ever could.

Arch Flanagan, Ex POW

A powerful tribute to the ingenuity of the diggers.

Tim Lloyd: Adelaide Advertiser

I did not think that anyone could portray the prisoner of War experience successfully on stage. You have succeeded admirably.

Ray Parkin, Ex POW

The Round Earth Company toured A Bright and Crimson Flower throughout Tasmania, Victoria, NSW and Queensland from July 24th to Sept 25th 2009, in support of Legacy.

PO Box 170, Strahan TAS 7468 Australia
Phone: 61-3-64717700

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