Man Called Thunderbolt, The

By Vivien Arnold

Regular price $175.00 Sale

Ideal Music Theatre work for higher school students and adults.

Fred Ward - alias Captain Thunderbolt - was Australia's longest lasting and most successful bushranger.  Over seven years he held people up in the New England area and was rumoured to have taken twenty thousand pounds.  Naturally this peeved a great many people.  However there were others who truly held him in esteem - even some of his victims.

This arose from admiration of his superb horsemanship, his unfailing politeness, his eschewed non-violence, his good humour and sense of fun, his soft-heartedness, his kindness to the orphaned, his championship of the underdog, and his sense of fair play.  In short, he was Australia's real life Robin Hood.

In sharp contrast, the authorities showed him no leniency at any stage.  Moreover, after his death, some believe accounts of his life were deliberately suppressed and expunged because he was a natural inspiration for the sort of republican rebellion they dreaded.  

His strong and passionate relationship with Maryanne Bugg - Queen Yellow Long - pointed to reconciliation with the first Australians.  Sadly their children were farmed out and the lineage lost.

This opera traces the story of their lives as a reality, albeit somewhat romanticised.  At the same time it examines attitudes and interests of the day in the young colony of New South Wales through using both anecdotes and written records.

Its large cast features people documented in the stories told about Ward.  All chorus members are required to have speaking or solo/ensemble singing roles so this is not a production that asks people to sit around back-stage for slabs of time.  The original staging comprised large blocks that could be quickly rearranged for set changes.  This too was the job of the entire cast, who sometimes turned their backs to the audience forming human walls as part of the set.  Costuming is inexpensive.  

The work was written for an amateur society with a cast of around 50 (good for ticket sales!).  It received critical acclaim when it was staged in 1988 for the bicentennial.  Being an historic piece it has not dated.

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ISMN 9790720171173
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