A PLAY, which has been performed on stage in England, is coming to Ballarat later this month. Written by actor and playwright, Roland Rocchiccioli, Letters From The Heart is a sweeping love story that starts in London in 1941. Roland explains the storyline, “The bombs are dropping, and it takes in the Fall of Singapore, which is the most catastrophic war action, particularly for Australians and some of the British, but the Fall of Singapore led to Changi prison and all of those terrible things that happened and then it ends in Australia and England 50 years later.” The inspiration for the play, Roland said, came from his time working with entertainers of the caliber of Googie Withers and John McCallum. “They talked constantly about having a ‘good war’ and I was fascinated by it,” Roland said. “You would go to say goodnight to Googie at the end of the performance and she would say ‘come in darling. Have you net the brigadier, have you met the major general?’
“And I met all these people and they talked about ‘their war’ and there were all these wonderful stories.” Conversations with other actors of that era followed and they all talked about ‘their war’. “Then there were family stories that I listened to, to do with foibles in the family, and I thought there is something in this, putting this together with the war and my aunt and her child and my uncle and my mother and all of those people,” Roland explained.
He was able to weave all of that into the Second World War, which is the first act and the second act is when the soldier returns home. “So the second act is what happens as a consequence of having been to war and there is a twist at the end that no-one is expecting – and it’s all done through letters.” Lisa McCune will be playing the role in Australia. In England it was performed by Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey) and Caroline Langrishe ( Judge John Deed) and it was produced by Sir Howard Panter.
“Now the Gordon Frost Organisation has picked it up and we are doing this one here and I am going to London in June to walk with the Director because the play needs ‘a haircut’,” Roland added. “Every new play needs a haircut and then we will be ready to go into rehearsal and casting and it will open in Sydney, not sure about Melbourne yet, he wants to take it to London and then very excitingly to America, as well.”
Roland has secured multi-Logie award winning actor Lisa McCune to play opposite him in Letters Of The Heart. Last week Ms McCune was in Ballarat for a rehearsal with Roland, who will play the role of Dr Rupert Mitchelmore, while Lisa has the role of his fiancee Diana. The play is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Wendouree in conjunction with the Ballarat RSL and will be performed at the Loreto College Theatre for one day only on Friday April 21st. Tickets are $45 through Her Majesty’s Theatre.