Letters to Lindy

Letters to Lindy
Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and Alana Valentine
Talks / Lecture

Photograph of Alana Valentine
Recording date: 
7 August 2016

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton speaks to Alana Valentine about the making of a stage play based on 20,000 letters sent to Lindy by the public since 1980. Hosted by Canberra Times Arts Editor Sally Pryor.

The Merrigong Theatre Company production, Letters to Lindy, will be performed at Canberra Theatre Centre between 9 and 13 August. Visit the Canberra Theatre Centre website for bookings.

Merrigong Theatre Company, in association with the Canberra Theatre Centre.


Transcript of Letters to Lindy

Speakers: Margy Burn (B), Sally Pryor (S), Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton (L), Alana Valentine (A)

Location: National Library of Australia

Date: 07/08/2016

M:        Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the National Library for this afternoon’s conversation. I’m Margy Burn and I’m the Assistant Director-General responsible for Reader Services and Australian Unpublished Collections. And so in this capacity, I’m responsible for the custodianship of the papers of Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton within the Manuscripts Collection. And in relation to Reader Services, for the Library’s Fellowship scheme, which in 2013 brought Alana Valentine to the National Library for three months—with Mrs Chamberlain-Creighton’s permission—to research the letters to Lindy. And of course Alana’s research has now resulted in the play Letters to Lindy, which had its premiere performance in Wollongong last week, the production being commissioned by that city’s Merrigong Theatre, and which will open at the Canberra Theatre Centre on Tuesday. I saw the play in Wollongong last week, and it’s a wonderful piece of work, and if you haven’t yet got your tickets for the Canberra season, after today’s conversation I am sure you will feel the need to book.

It has become customary at events like this to acknowledge the Indigenous ownership of the land on which we meet and this is something I endeavour to do with gratitude and sincerity. We who live in Canberra are fortunate to live in a bush capital, and if we have eyes to see, we can truly say we live on Aboriginal land, the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people. But today I think it is especially important to make this acknowledgement because the drama and tragedy which brings us here today took place on a very sacred Aboriginal site, Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it was then more commonly called. And isn’t that a good thing? That we’ve change the way we name things in recognition of prior ownership.

This afternoon's conversation will be facilitated by Sally Pryor, who needs no introduction to a Canberra audience as the arts writer for The Canberra Times and a very good friend to the National Library. Alana Valentine is an award-winning and prolific playwright and just to give an indication of how prolific her work is, this year she will have five plays performed in Australia: Ladies’ Day; One Billion Beats co-written with the poet, Romaine Morton; Cold Light, adapted from Frank Moorehouse’s novel of the same name; The Tree Widows; and Letters to Lindy. Alana has won many awards, including the Harold White Fellowship at the National Library, and her radio play, The Ravens won the 2014 BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition. And Lindy, or to offer her due respect, Mrs Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton ... well Lindy’s is one of those names that a first name and people know who you’re talking about ... Lindy endured and is at the centre of an extraordinary family tragedy which affected three generations, a fourth if you count Lindy’s grandchildren. She was at the centre of one of the most famous legal cases in Australian history: there were four inquests, litigation in the Northern Territory Supreme Court, appealed to the Federal Court and the High Court, a Royal Commission and these investigations went for more than 30 years, between 1980 and 2012.

The issue polarised Australian public opinion, galvanised arguments, revealed prejudice and blind emotion. All of us who were alive at the time remember it. Later we came to know that Australians had a compulsion to write to Lindy. They wrote in sorrow, they wrote in outrage, they wrote hate letters, they wrote fan mail. They wrote letters of support. And these letters were penned not only over the first decade of that intense legal scrutiny but they continue until today and while Lindy is in Canberra this week I believe she’ll be handing over more letters and emails to the National Library.

Lindy approached the Library in 1992. I think she recognised our role as a national institution and perhaps she knew that we had already collected material from the Chamberlain Support Group. When staff visited her home in 1992 there were four large filing cabinets of her papers and a few months later ... the staff member who ... one of the staff who visited on that occasion immediately recognised the importance of the collection as a really significant collection documenting social history but said it was a little bit disorganised. Five months later when he went back it was meticulously, beautifully, incredibly organised. All the letters were carefully filed in colour-coordinated folders, they were annotated and Lindy had done a precis of the letters and she’d also, as I think we famously know from the publicity around the play, she’d given them a star rating system. At the time we estimated there were 10,000 letters, we now think there are 20,000. It is an archive which is extraordinary, about a really significant event in Australian history. It also is a time capsule of the 1980s and beyond, so it’s a really significant collection and it’s truly my pleasure today to have had the opportunity of spending a few moments to explain my role in relationship to Alana and to Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton. And now to hand over to Sally and our two guests to speak.


S:         Thanks everyone. Margy sort of took over what I was about to say, but I’ve spoken to Lindy and Alana about these letters and Lindy, we know that you got thousands and thousands. Can you give us a sense of the scale and what it was like when your house was at one stage pretty much taken over by these letters?

L:         Well interestingly enough, seeing it’s a library, some of those facts were wrong ‘cause they first contacted me in 1986 just a few weeks after I got out of prison, and I was in the backyard ‘cause apparently they’d knocked on the front door, I hadn’t heard them and thought we’ll try the back and there I was standing next to a big 44 gallon drum burning letters. And they didn’t say hello or anything else, they said what are you doing? I’m like, ah burning letters, why? Well we’re from the National Library and we’d really like to have them. And I said well haven’t burned anything particularly important, which you know in the context of everything that was the wrong statement, but I’d already done the sorting into ordinary and special, and I thought I cannot live with this, they ... there were 11 filing cabinets to begin with that had been filed, but that didn’t mention the four or five tea chests, the ones that were under the bed in the linen closet and in every drawer of the house. ‘Cause apparently our cleaners thought the way you keep the house clean is to grab everything and put it in a box or shove it in a cupboard where you can’t see it. And I couldn’t find anything when I got home so I was sorting and there would be at least 10,000 more letters that have come on the computer that these guys don’t know about yet.

And I won’t be précising them because you can get in electronically and search them yourself, but unfortunately when our car was broken into a few years back they stole the computer and the backup hard drive, and so anybody that wrote to me after the fourth inquest on the computer I hadn’t got to read them. I only read a few that were either on my personal phone or on Rick’s phone, and everything else was lost, and then we got home and discovered that several years of letters were also not backed up. And Rick was pretty devastated, he said he still dreams at night that he’s going to find the hard drive in a bin somewhere or somebody’s going to say hey, I found this, I think it must be yours and post it back but there’s a big slice of history l ... just gone in that.

S:         And I think another thing that people don’t quite realise is that you began receiving letters really only days after the tragedy, it wasn’t just when you were in prison or on trial, it was right from the start. What kinds of things were people writing right way back then?

L:         Mainly, you know, I’m devastated, I’m sorry this happened to you. There’s ... one letter sticks in my memory, and I never told you about this one, Alana, is the Church of England minister wrote to us and said, if you were a well-known religion like mine this wouldn’t have happened, and I truly believe that you’re one of the 144,000.

A:         You did tell me this.

L:         Did I?

A:         Yes, yes.

L:         Well there you go so anybody that knows their Bible and I’m thinking no, that’s not me but it was a nice thought. A lot of them were from friends who hadn’t been in touch for years ‘cause we were still moving ‘round an average of once a year. Yeah and lots from people that I didn’t know who at that stage even started to tell me stories of dingo attacks so ... personal ones.

S:         And then while you were in prison people were sending you letters about what was happening on the outside, they somehow thought that you wouldn’t have any access to information and so they were telling you about everything from the state of their own marriages to the price of milk.

L:         Mm, to what they had for dinner and watched on the telly. And what they thought of the politicians and everything else.

S:         And as a result I believe I believe that this period of history is now the most documented in the National Library of Australia thanks to the letter writers of ...

L:         Thanks to you guys.

S:         Thanks to you, that’s right. Alana, you came to the letters relatively recently. What brought you to them? What was it that made you think there might be a play in these letters?

A:         Well yeah, there’s two questions there. The first, how I came to the letters was I receive a ... email newsletter from the National Library and there was a very, very small part in the email that said that Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton had given a fifth instalment of letters to the National Library, that they’d been being installed in various groups since 1992 and that this brought the total to 20,000. And I thought, well I’m sure we’ll find the full panoply of human nature in there, it will be you know I knew that there would be an enormous diversity and I also thought that the collection for me was distinguished by the fact that there’s very few collections even in the National Library of the voices of—inverted commas—ordinary Australians. I mean many of them are ... there are certain projects that have done that but this was an opportunity to look at what Australians say when they want to express their feelings in the most difficult times for them to someone else who they feel’s going through that. I wanted to know how people, you know, did they reach for poetry? Did they ... what did they ... how did they express that? And what I thought was really yeah interesting was what the relationship that I then started to hear that Lindy has with the papers so a play as I’ve said a few times is not about information or even these wonderful characters in the play but it’s about a relationship that you can’t explain and I felt that Lindy’s relationship to the letters was complex and interesting and beautiful and that that’s where I started to smell that there might be a play, yeah.

S:         And what was it like coming across these letters? Lindy’s all over them, she’s filed them, she’s written notes on them.

A:         Yeah.

S:         What was that like for someone doing some preliminary research in the Library?

A:         Well I was the envy of many academics who told me that some of the collection that they research are, you know, I’d even heard stories of dead mice being found in some of the archive boxes, electricity bills in with everything else. Well I had this meticulous alphabetically-ordered, every letter had its own blue file, every file had its own yellow précised version of the letters. People say to me, has Lindy read the letters? I say, read them? She’s summarised them, she’s got a star system, she can tell me exactly who from one family was writing to her. She did as she said direct me to the letters about dingos but that was a really you know a difference between what she was experiencing through the letters and what was happening publicly so you know it was like having if I can say ... it was like having Lindy on my shoulder you know it was extraordinary experience, yeah.

S:         Lindy, you have said before, you were sent letters from entire families and not just sort of you know a nuclear family but you know different men in one family were all writing to you without each knowing that the other was writing. Tell me about some of those that stick out in your mind.

L:         Well it was interesting to me that there was patterns to things and every now and then there’d be a comment, my dad who’s a doctor at ... and I’d go oh, there’s a doctor at that, with that surname and then there’d be another mention of someone and then the doctor’d say my son, such and such and I’d go father and son and then you’d tie in the brother who was a teacher. And then the uncle who wrote to me about his love of boats and I don’t know whether he just went out in the water ‘cause he enjoyed it or whether he fished or what but I can tell you his boat was called The Dancing Feather you know and the mind picture of just you know out on the water rocking up and down ... I like boats too and I don’t get seasick so you know the ... just the mind picture took me away from prison for a while. And I also worked out that I had a whole family of women writing to me who also didn’t know each other were writing until I eventually said I’m getting letters from your mother and two sisters and then I discovered there was also another girl who they said oh, that’s interesting, well so-and-so said she’s writing as well and she’s also our sister. So it was interesting and you know I noticed funny little things, did you notice that all the men except about four are all ‘round the edge of the room? There’s only about four guys in the middle. The rest ... did you notice that? I couldn’t help noticing when I sat down. I’m like this is fascinating, they’re getting right where they can escape in a hurry if it’s boring or a ladies’ afternoon, they’re going to run.

S:         Lindy, not everyone who’s been through an experience ... an ordeal that you’ve been through would have the type of brain that you have, have the presence of mind to look into this and see the value of them. When was it that you realised in going through these letters that there was a story there and there was something that we needed ...

L:         She’s asking impossible questions.

S:         Oh no, I’m sorry.

L:         Well I don't know, everybody ... right from the next day, I think, at Ayer’s Rock, somebody said oh this is going to go down in history, they’ll probably make a movie of this eventually, and I thought what a tasteless comment. But then they kind of went on about you know you’ve got the outback, you’ve got the Aboriginals, you got a mother, you’ve got history, you got folklore, you ... you know you’ve got cops and wild animals and it’s got to be remembered. And then enough people tell you that sort of thing, you start thinking oh well yeah and then when we got back to Alice Springs and just saw billboard after billboard, it was like yeah, this is heaps bigger than we ever thought it’d be. And that was just one day’s papers and it just grew from then. I remember the man in the, Telecom, I suppose, in Mt Isa coming out to fix the phone and saying he had occasionally seen the battery in the mouthpiece of a phone go flat in their call centres, he’d never ever seen it in a private home and I didn’t even know there was a battery in them before that but it’s a ... amplifier thing. Because we were getting so many calls coming in and so I guess when the guys ... it was always like ... seems wrong to throw people’s letters away but I’ve got to live and they’re taking up more of my house than I am, something’s got to go so I’ll just keep the more significant ones who don’t say quite the same thing that every other letter did ‘cause you know a lot of them looked the same.

And there’s a lot of letters ... not being rude here but it’s like people tell you what they think that they ought to tell you because that’s what they’ve been taught to say whereas there are letters that come and you know it’s come from the person’s heart, they’ve said what is in their heart and a lot of times you just know that they’ve been through something in their lives that helps them relate and so they were the ones that I felt were different, more significant, just keep a few of the ordinary ones and then later I’d think what to do with the specials and so when the guys said to me well we want them I said okay but not yet, I’ve got to go through them. And so I started going through and then I realised people for looking for information in them and they’d ring up and say can you find it? And I’d go oh yeah, I read that and when I went back to find stuff myself to tell people I realised I haven’t picked that out, it’s not there. I don’t want to sit and read them all again, I need to put more things in that aren’t significant to me at the moment but could be down the track and so I started putting more information, about halfway through thought still not working, I’ve got to precis so I’ve done that. And you know there’s something wrong, I reckon they should give me an honorary archivist title and they haven’t.


L:         I keep hinting but nobody’s taking the hint. And Michael sends his stuff in in these big scrambled boxes and he’s an archivist.

S:         It’s disgrace. And so Alana comes along and is the beneficiary of this incredible system that you developed and Alana, what are some of the things ... you came looking for something in particular.

A:         Mm.

S:         Did you find it? Did you find this answer to the question of what do Australians reach for?

A:         I think I found more questions which is what a playwright will always say to you. I think that I was looking for ... people try to understand what Lindy’s gone through and each ... I asked her one day ... we met at this café, a beautiful Eastern European cake café and beforehand I though now look, if I’m trying to ask her questions and my face is stuffed full of cake is this going to be you know bad? And then Lindy arrived and said ooh, I’m going to have the hazelnut torte and I thought great so we both had these fabulous cakes and I said to her ...

L:         And you ate before I got there so your face wasn’t ... and I said well never mind, I’m hungry, I’ve been looking forward to this all day, I’m going to eat and I’m going to have cake.

A:         That’s right.

L:         QVB, third floor, isn’t it?

A:         Yes, it’s the third floor, it’s wonderful. And I asked her you know do you think there has been a letter where ... has anyone been able to understand your experience? And Lindy said to me that she got letters from people who’d lost a child, people who’d been imprisoned wrongly or felt they’d been imprisoned wrongly or ... various aspects of your experience, didn’t you? Say ... so it was like no one had had the same experience but what human beings do, and a lot of the letters start like this, is say this is what’s happened to me, this is what I think is my gateway into understand what’s happened to you. And sometimes that’s true and may you know you don’t judge that, that’s just what they ... what people have written so you know I was particularly interested in letters of people’s personal experience because that ... I think like Lindy I’m fascinated by how human nature works and we share that and I’ve been really gifted by Lindy’s perceptions like she just said to you, noticed that da, da, da and we’ll be going oh yeah, look at that you know and that’s been the great joy of this but I was struck by those letters but again I keep coming back to what has inspired me more than anything is the beauty of Lindy’s individuality. She’s a true individual and she has an absolutely individual relationship to these letters and that’s what you see in the play, yeah.

S:         Tell us about this star system. This is one of my favourite features of the collection.

L:         ‘Cause I comment on them too.

A:         Yeah, she does.

L:         She came back and she said I’ve been giggling through them and I said why? And she said ‘cause you write funny things in the margins like big explanation ma ... exclamation mark and bull.

A:         Yeah, bull. There was a TV ... there was an outline for a TV show about it and it started Lindy, a pastor’s daughter who has no survival skills and Lindy’s written in the c ... in the margin, yeah, crap or bull, there was something like that. And then she proceeded to tell me how she had this fantastic like is it orienteering? Like you’re actually a qualified ... you used to take children out in the bush and ...

L:         I have done orienteering but Pathfinders, I was a Pathfinder leader and teacher which is like a combination of Guides and Scouts with extra added to it and the ... it’s sort of deteriorated a lot now to more outdoor fun and hikes and games and hobbies and things than it used to be. But you really had to work for your badges then, they weren’t one-day things, they might take you six months and so I taught wilderness camping and fire-building and you know how to haul yourself up a tree by a rope ‘round your neck and let yourself down again, it was actually quite fun although it is not fun when it’s only two weeks after you’ve had a baby and you are crawling across a rope the width this room. It’s alright for the first half and then you think this really hurts my stomach, why did I start? But you know you’re up off the ground so you can’t get off. And I also assessed for the government flood damage and people needing help and you know I worked with CES and various things like that apart from being a minister’s wife which gives you a very wide range ... look into people’s lives, you ... counselling and all sorts of things and suddenly I discovered I was this naïve little housewife that didn’t know a thing and I’m thinking yeah well I’ve got news for you.

A:         But the star system is ... Lindy would tell me that she would put ... like on some of the letters there’s a paragraph that she thinks is particularly significant and a lot of it was people telling stories about dingoes and their behaviour, Aboriginal people talking about their elders, talking about you know dingoes being taken. There was one day I saw a very nasty piece of ... a nasty letter that ... Lindy calls them the comic relief, the nasty letters which was great guidance for me in how to deal with ... ‘cause I’ve got to say there were days where I was very ... I w ... destroyed by the ... how vile some of the letters were. There was one, it was a really por ... it was like a pornographic image that had been doctored and it had seven stars on it and I said to Lindy, why has that got seven stars? And she said well it’s the worst of its kind, it’s the extreme end so the stars weren’t just about like good or bad, they were about extremes, yeah.

S:         And you got some actually quite amusing from your perspective hate mail, you were telling me about one that involved a knitted booty.

L:         That’s in the play.

S:         Yeah.

L:         So let’s let them go to the play to see about that.

S:         Oh okay, alright, we’ll leave that one in the play. 

L:         Sally would like that.

S:         Prefer that.

L:         Needless to say I’ve got a pair of them now but only one was sent to me so if you want to know where the other came from, the play.

S:         And so back to the play, Alana, you and Lindy did spend a bit of time together and on ... what did that involve? What were you ... how did you go about working out your ... the voice you were going to use in the play and the narrative?

L:         I reckon I should answer that.

S:         Okay.

L:         ‘Cause she said I’ll just ... to help me in my research of the letters you know I’d just like to ask you some questions and I’m like oh that’s fine. And she’s running all the letters that she picked out, she had to run them by me to make sure there was nothing in them and I said to her now, the reason you’re not in the closed files is because they contain letters that people said please do not hand this around and so they are important for history but not while that person is alive and so they’re in the closed files. Maybe when you’re all dead they won’t be but in the meantime they will be and what did she find? Letter that says please do not show my letter to anyone that I’d accidentally misfiled and she’s like can I use this one? And I’m like no, can’t you read? The lady said ... oh sorry, I should have seen that and we just chatted and then later I discovered ... she asked if she could record so she could remember it, fine. She’s tied the whole thing together by quotes from me out of that which she did ask later. Now I tied it together by your voice so will you go through and I think ... I only changed one bit on you, didn’t I? Because ...

A:         It was the grammar, the grammar, yeah.

L:         We ... oh couple of grammar but there was a bit that when you went back and looked at it it didn’t say what I meant and so we changed it around until it meant what I thought I’d said. Does that make sense?

A:         So apart from the autobiography that you wrote yourself obviously it’s one of the only pieces that’s written with your voice in it, isn’t it? It’s ... ‘cause there’s been reams written about you and your case and there’s scripts and a TV show and a movie and everything so this one’s sort of a different approach.

L:         Yeah. It’s probably more the human things ... I often wonder why reporters always ask the same questions over and over again and say this is what the public wants to know and I say to them no, it’s not, it’s what you tell them and they ask questions on that because the information’s not in there. What they want to know is something you haven’t written yet and you never ask the questions to elicit the answers and then they’re like oh, never thought of that. But that’s true and the Library just brought me two books to sign out there and I’m like well we’ll discuss that tomorrow because you haven’t got the latest one which has got the update on it ‘cause it’s like the back cover was missing. You ever read a book and the last 10 pages are missing and you think well what happened? And it was before the last inquest so it’s been updated again. And it’s got the back cover on it now, it doesn’t need another update but it’s updated to about two years ago with more pictures and all that sort of thing and they’ve got it down there and they’ll have it at the play as well otherwise you got to go on my website and get it.

But it’s like unless all the information’s there you’re missing the facts which is why I wrote the book in the first place like they want a book and everybody else is writing ones, I was interested in the like ... like Alana, the why, the where, the how and I didn't know you weren’t supposed to ask questions when you’re in the witness box so I started asking the Crown guys well you know it says that but what about this? And he’s like no, no, I ask the questions and I said why? It didn’t seem sensible to me that if you’re investigating a death you’re not asking for all the information, only some of it. And it’s all very well if a forensic report is telling you what it’s not you know well if it doesn’t tell you what it is why are you relying on it? And when I came out of court later the press wanted to know if I was a lawyer and I’m like no you know I’ve had a number of semesters of college but I never finished, I really only went to the end of high school but isn’t it commonsense? And they all looked and me and went um no.

So there’s things that I think are normal, Alana thinks is normal and other people kind of don’t and so you ask those questions so when they asked me to write the book we initially called it Through My Eyes because every eyewitness wrote a section for me, some part of it’s quoted, others I had to put it in English that you’d all understand. The forensic guys went over their own, one of the cops went over some of their own the lawyers went over theirs, reporters went over sections on them. Robert Caswell who wrote the movie went over the section on the movie etc so it was through everybody’s eyes. I compiled it altogether and wrote my story in between and now it’s gone to the international title. It’s like the movie, you know it’s A Cry in the Dark overseas, it’s Evil Angels here and it was Through My Eyes here and A Dingo’s Got My Baby overseas and it’s like it’s too confusing, one title, so that’s why it’s done but you have to ask these questions and the letters in there and there’s ... it’s more than letters, it’s court transcripts, it’s records of interviews, it’s writings from the ... those involved in the case or on the outskirts of the case. I’ve said to them write down your experiences for me so that they’re in there because there’s one thing we learn, that 100, 200 years after someone’s dead, they’re going to write a story about ... I’ve researched it, this is what really happened.

So if somebody's going to get in there and start reading about my life I want them to have as many facts as possible because there’s enough misinformation around now and it’s only little things but it gathers. See 1992, they came for the collection ... well they came in 1986 for filing cabinets, it was 11. It was four by the time 1992 but somewhere along the line they’ve lost the history of when Graeme Powell first came and so you put those things in and if people are telling you something that you know is wrong in the letters then I’ll put a squiggle down it and put this is not what actually happened, this was the real information and in this particular interview you’re talking about the dot, dot, dot TV company took that question and that answer and put them together. And we objected to it but it’s out there and so this is not what actually happened.

So that information is sitting there, that’s why there’s comments on the side. There’s lots of comments over letters from anti-support group people because there was two support groups going ‘round Australia, all supposedly working for me and Canberra Support Group was working for me with Betty Hocking who ... anybody was around at the time, she’s still alive and in Queensland and we still have occasional contact and there was another group who said they worked for me who many people sent money to who were lining their own pockets and they weren’t heard from again the minute I got out of prison and behind the scenes they were very, very nasty and disruptive so I’ve called them the anti-support group and so in letters that came in from them you’ll see comments of what was actually told to their lawyers and then what their lawyers had fed to them and tell them and ... etc. So all that’s on there.

A:         And one of the things you told me that I find just fascinating is you’re still receiving ... it’s mainly emails today, you’re receiving emails from people who are very young, weren’t born when it all happened who are reviewing the case.

L:         We get a minimum of a thousand a year.

A:         And they’re people who are looking at the case themselves or people whose par ... who were very young at the time and whose parents had opinions and they’re writing to apologise ...

L:         To apologise for their parents which I find hilarious. But they’re studying it in school from grade 5 to year 12. Many schools, the teachers have assignments on the case you know kids write in and say oh on my website, they’ll come in you know I have an assignment and I just had a couple of questions and I don’t know what sort of marks they get but they think that we’re too dumb to see that they have cut and pasted their whole assignment and every question they ask is answered on the website where the teacher’s obviously got the questions from and they don’t want to read it, they’re hoping that you’ll answer the question for them. For the first time ever I answered a question the other day because you could see it was the girl’s question and it was a genuine one and not just something that she could have found anywhere else so I told her it was the first time I’d ever answered one.

A:         The other night the first preview of the play ... we had previewed the play two nights before we opened and half for the audience, maybe three-quarters was schoolchildren and the actors were like oh no you know an audience full of kids, they’re going to ... it’s long after they’re born, they’re going to not like it so they sat down and they had their chips and their drinks and they were doing all their you know texting and doing stuff and then as the play went on they became more and more silent. It was incredible, when we got to the second half they were ... I’m not kid ... they were holding their mouths. It was such an incredible thing to watch and I said to the teacher afterwards why did you bring them? They’re a fantastic audience but why are you here? And she said because we want them to learn not to believe everything they read in the papers or see on social media or ... we want them to learn to interrogate words. I thought wow, that's a good teacher. So it was ... they turned out as is often the case with things associated with you that they ... it turned out to be the best first night audience we could have had, they were fantastic.

[End of recording]

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