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Bringing Lawson’s poetry to life


A TRIO of actors bring the stories of Henry Lawson to life in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his death.

Hedley Thomson, Jane Gaylor and Peter Vanderkley are Lawson and his companions, and they are set to tour Ballarat in the coming months, performing the writer’s pieces of poetry and prose as dramatic vignettes.

Thomson said Lawson was not just a bush poet and the author of The Herdsman’s Wifebut had a local connection and unpacked timeless political and social issues, fairness, equality and justice throughout his career.

“Most will know him as one of Australia’s greatest writers,” said Thomson.

“Few people know, however, that in 1888 Lawson came to Ballarat on a pilgrimage to visit the site of the Battle of Eureka and to visit the old Ballarat Cemetery to see the graves, lying side by side, of the diggers and soldiers who died in combat.

“At the time, Lawson had published a handful of literary works, including Song of the Republicand two poems about the Battle of Eureka, and was about to really launch his career.

“His visit to Ballarat was undoubtedly to gain inspiration in support of an important priority in his writing which would persist throughout his life; creating a society that provided a fair chance for everyone.

“He ended up writing a total of seven wonderful articles about the Battle of Eureka and its significance to the culture and governance of our country.”

Lawson and his friends are planning to put on a performance in the Eureka Stockade gardens at the memorial on Sunday 27 November at 5pm, but in the meantime they are looking for community groups, eg Probus clubs, who would be interested in putting on a performance as part of a tour in all the city.

“We are ready to accept offers… to present a show that meets the needs. Between a half hour and an hour and a half will be fine,” Thomson said.

“The final content will be shaped by the length of the show as a whole, with added information about Lawson’s life to add to the mix.

“The Mates don’t charge, rather we want to publicize Lawson’s work. If there’s enough interest, we’d love to move on to 2023, the 135th anniversary of Lawson’s visit to Ballarat.

If you and your community group or club would like to organize a Mates performance, contact Hedley Thomson on 0428 027 895 or [email protected].

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