Albert Facey’s classic Australian autobiography turned into a cinematic theatre performance

Isabel Vieira Narrogin Observer
Actors Rebecca Davis and Michael Abercromby in the theatre performance of ‘A Fortunate Life’.
Camera IconActors Rebecca Davis and Michael Abercromby in the theatre performance of ‘A Fortunate Life’. Credit: Stewart Thorpe Photography

The renowned autobiography of Australian writer and World War I veteran Albert Facey has been adapted into a theatre performance set to hit the stage at the Narrogin Town Hall on January 29.

Production companies Theatre 180 and CinemaStage collaborated to adapt Albert Facey’s book ‘A Fortunate Life’ into an immersive theatre and cinematic performance.

The autobiography was published in 1981 just nine months before Albert Facey’s death and recounts his experiences during the Gallipoli campaign of World War 1 and his return to everyday life after the war.

Director Stuart Halusz said several of the scenes were based in Narrogin and surrounding southern Wheatbelt towns.

“We went on a regional tour throughout WA with a screen and projector and we would set up in the town halls,” he said.

“It is wonderful going into these massive cinemas where the screen is 14m high and you have surround sound.

“But to actually take this story, where so much of it is set in the Wheatbelt, to places like Wickepin, Kojonup, Corrigin and Narrogin is just so important.”

The screen behind the actors is used to depict archival footage, historical photographs, landscapes and animation to help tell the classic Australian story.

Actors Michael Abercromby, Benj D'Addario and Rebecca Davis in 'A Fortunate Life'
Camera IconActors Michael Abercromby, Benj D'Addario and Rebecca Davis in 'A Fortunate Life' Credit: Stewart Thorpe Photographyy

Mr Halusz said the performance combined the immediate nature of theatre with the visual and audio impact of cinema.

“We use the screen as a backdrop to provide the physical landscapes of the places Facey and other characters in the story travelled through,” he said.

“It also gives us a chance to showcase some of those wonderful evocative landscapes of the South West and Wheatbelt.

“The screen allows us to provide a backdrop to the emotional journey of the characters.”

Actors Rebecca Davis and  Michael Abercromby in 'A Fortunate Life'
Camera IconActors Rebecca Davis and Michael Abercromby in 'A Fortunate Life' Credit: Stewart Thorpe Photographyy

The play focuses on the key traits of resilience, fortitude, courage, hope and humility embodied by Facey.

“We feel audiences need to be reminded of those key character traits … especially with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Halusz said.

“There is a lot of talk around mental health, resilience and fortitude to ride out these tough times

“That’s what Facey did, he lived an incredible life filled with adventure, challenge, numerous near-death experiences, tragedy and love.

“After all of it he turned around and said ‘I’ve had a really fortunate life’ and I think that’s what we all need to be reminded of.”

A Fortunate Life will show at the Narrogin Town Hall at 7pm January 29.

For tickets, visit artsnarrogin.com.au

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