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Minefields & Miniskirts: The Women Of War

  • Written by  Ellen Cook
  • Tuesday, 28 March 2017 15:48
Published in Arts  
|   Tagged under   
'Minefields & Miniskirts', the book turned play is the chance to gain a personal insight to the inspiring, challenging, at times funny and heartbreaking stories of the ordinary women that were involved in the Vietnam War.

Siobhan McHugh’s book ‘Minefields & Miniskirts’ began as a commissioned piece to go and speak to two nurses who worked in the Vietnam War. She talks about her initial desire to take the book further: “Talking to the nurses I could see their deep emotional connection and response to the war. Everything I had read during my research was either political or about the military. I never got a real sense of the people so I wrote to different groups to find these women and hear their stories.”

The play has been adapted and directed by Terence O’Connell. Siobhan talks highly about her experience with letting her book go into his hands. “Terence had read the book and loved it. He is from a theatre background and I checked him out, at first I almost wanted absolute creative license to make sure none of the women where misrepresented or their stories exaggerated. I then decided pretty early on that I had to let that go. I didn’t want to cramp Terence’s style... It also could have been very messy. I did check him out and I knew he had the right attitude.”

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'Minefields & Miniskirts' rehearsals.

“90 per cent of the dialogue is actual transcripts from the interviews I did with the women for the book. Terence carved them up and combined them, and it’s overwhelming how well it works. I didn’t know what to expect at the first show, it was nerve-wracking but he did an amazing job; all the characters where engaging. It was brilliant, the way the show is set out is lovely. It’s almost like the audience is eavesdropping on these conversations between the women."

“I wasn’t ever worried about the book becoming a play. It’s a good play and I’m really happy with it. There are talks of it becoming a film but again with that it would have to be done right and not exaggerate or demonise any of the stories. I just wanted Terence to stay faithful to the story and he has! The characters in the play are in their 40s and looking back to their 20s so they have had that break to look back. It works really well. All the actors loved it as well because women don’t often get these juicy roles to play.”

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'Minefields & Miniskirts' rehearsals.

The play allows people to visually experience the stories. Siobhan describes her feelings about her book becoming a play.

“It was thrilling, it gave the book a new life. It was out of print when the play was created so more people have seen the play than the book. Although now people that see the play want to read the book so it brought the book back to life. In the play there are moments that make you laugh and cry, there is singing and fantastic design, it’s all about this strong compelling story. It’s really lovely.”

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'Minefields & Miniskirts' rehearsals.

With the play being shown at the Brisbane Arts Theatre, Siobhan expresses her hopes for the audiences. “I just want people to realise that war touches everybody and not just those in the war zone. Families and women have always been a part of it; women have played key protagonists. I want people see that war isn’t just black and white. War is a very complex insight into humanity; it brings out the worst and the most noble in people.”

'Minefields & Miniskirts' plays 8-29 April at the Brisbane Arts Theatre.

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