Surface of the Moon

Commissioned and produced by Salamanca Theatre Company, Hobart, Tasmania, 1991. 


Mary moved to Queenstown from the white rock Island of Malta in 1952 when she was 16 months old. The contrast in weather, environment and circumstances changed Mary’s attitude to herself forever. She learnt to develop her imagination, the need for quiet spaces within herself, her spirituality as opposed to religious beliefs, and her own individuality as the only Maltese girl called Mary. She learnt to become an excellent student and athlete and defended her difference with spirit and alacrity, developing her relationship to the land and her township as a secure base from which she could operate. When eventually her father left the copper mines and moved to Sydney when Mary was 12, she realised just how much of a relationship this had become. 

Surface of the Moon is the story of a young girl’s perception of difference and how it can damage the spirit unless one has particular strategies for survival. Set in a fluid space, we become privy to Mary’s world and her ability to survive the racism and dogmatism of the move from Malta to Queenstown and how this presented her with the strength to survive the move from Queenstown to Sydney. The aim is to leave young people not only with a sense of survival strategies that they or others who feel different might employ, but also a sense of understanding of others who look different, that everyone’s childhood has something special and of value contained within it and can form the springboard for their future lives.

A play for young adults aged 14-20 years.


Programme Notes: From the playwright

Q: How did you deal with a play that was caught up with memory? 

A: Memories are like snapshots. One freeze frame will often jog a whole scenario. They are also fluid and move quickly and easily from one to another. However, memories don’t just work on their own. They are usually triggered by an event, however large or small. The story we were dealing with here was essentially cyclic – the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another. The cycle was all about education and learning: the obvious school education, moving out of Primary learning into Secondary; and the learning that was to do with human interactions. For me the starting point of the play was the situation of crisis in which Mary found herself caused through the move to Sydney. But in reality what was happening was that one cycle was ending and a new one was beginning. Thus the distress she felt at leaving Queenstown was really the shedding of that particular way of life. As such Mary was required to draw on all of her past in order to find ways of dealing with her new and unfamiliar present – in other words the foundation stones of the new learning cycle were being put in place. 

Darrelyn Gunzburg, 12 August, 1991

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Darrelyn Gunzburg