One of Foxtel’s most promising television events for 2012 will take place next month when The History Channel screens The People Speak.
This features an all-star cast with some of the most elite names from stage and screen reliving the letters, songs and speeches of rebels, visionaries and protesters from Australia’s rich past.
Based on a format by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the US, this two hour special was filmed at Carriageworks in Redfern in front of a live audience.
Narrated by author Thomas Keneally, The People Speak is a one-of-a-kind format that revisits some of our country’s most significant fights – those of gender equality, fair pay and working conditions, gay rights, war and peace, immigration and the rights of our indigenous populations.
It gives a voice to those who spoke up at the time for social change – and highlights the continuing importance of active participation in today’s society.
The People Speak format was born in 2009 when actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, along with film producer Chris Moore collaborated with Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, to construct a performed history of the United States as told from the perspective of its underdogs.
Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Marisa Tomei, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Josh Brolin and a host of others participated in the special – and two years later, Colin Firth, Sir Ben Kingsley, Joss Stone, Keira Knightley and Sir Ian McKellan were amongst the cast that staged The People Speak in the United Kingdom.
The People Speak is produced by The History Channel and WTFN Entertainment and is exclusive to Foxtel.
The People Speak – Cast
Thomas Keneally, AO.
David Wenham – Laurence Frayne, convict, 1830
Sam Worthington – Captain Alexander Maconochie, calls for penal reform, 1838
Rob Carlton (pictured, left) – W.C. Wentworth, the case for the Emancipist Party, 1819
Jack Thompson – Mr Lowe, protest to stop the transport of British criminals, Sydney, 1849
John Jarratt – George Black, State Labor MP, call for a Republic, 1891
Alex Dimitriades – Peter Lalor, leader of the Eureka Rebellion, Ballarat, 1854
Hal Holbrook – Mark Twain, Eureka Stockade at Ballarat, 1895
Chris Haywood – Charles Jardine Don, speaks out to extend the 8 hours system, 1855
Dan Wyllie – John Stanley James aka ‘The Vagabond’, writes of the women’s cause, The Argus, 1882
Christine Anu – Mary Lee, campaigns for the right for women to vote, 1890
Claudia Karvan – Germaine Greer, read from The Female Eunuch, 1970
Sophie Lowe (pictured, right) – Kate Jennings, a call for women’s rights, 1970
Tex Perkins – Ned Kelly, pleads for the right of a man to defend himself from persecution, 1879
Ryan Kwanten – Jack Mundey, writes to ban construction of environmental unfriendly buildings,1972
Alex Dimitriades – Richard Neville, defends himself in the ‘Oz’ ‘obscenity’ trials, 1971
Matilda Brown – Rodney Croome, speaks out for equal rights for same sex marriage, 2005
Damian de Montemas – Lieutenant Raws, wrote a gut-wrenching account of life in WWI trenches, 1916
David Wenham -The Returned Soldiers’ No-Conscription League of Aus, Conscription Manifesto, 1917
Dan Wyllie – Sergeant Billy Hacking, writes to his fiancé about the US forces in Vietnam, 1963
Chris Haywood – Jim Cairns, calls to end Australian participation in the Vietnam War, 1970
Rebecca Gibney – Joyce Golgerth joins forces with other mothers to stop conscription, 1966
John Jarratt – Chris Lambert, a father laments the incalculable loss of his son in battle, 2012
Jon-Claire Lee – Cheok Hong Cheong, right for Chinese immigrants to make a living in Australia, 1880
Dina Panozzo – Pauline Hanson’s Maiden Speech in Federal Parliament, 1996.
Hazem Shammas – The memoir of Najaf Mazari, describing the sorrow and hope of a refugee,
Indira Naidoo – Charlie Teo’s Australia Day Address, calling for tolerance, 2012
Kelton Pell – Burnum Burnum, The Burnum Burnum Declaration of 26 January, 1988
Rob Carlton – Governor Gawler tells a group of Aboriginal people they should imitate white men,1838
Jack Thompson – Robert Lyon – speech about respecting the rights of Aboriginals, 1833
Madeleine Madden – Bill Simon, writes of the pain of being taken away from his mother, 2009
Lillian Crombie – Lowitja O’Donoghue, speech explaining Aboriginal relationship to the land, 1998
Jimi Bani – Captain Major, speaks of poor wages and conditions of rural Aboriginal workers, 1968
Tex Perkins (pictured, centre) – Waltzing Matilda
Julia Stone – I Was Only 19
Christine Anu (with special guest Jack Thompson) – From Little Things Big Things Grow
Sunday, December 2 at 7.30pm AEDT on the History Channel.