May Day Queen of the Scarlet Belt




The May Day Queen of the Scarlet Belt


Supervising auditions will be Aarne Neeme, OA, (Recent director of Gospel According to Paul; television director of Home and Away). Also assisting will be Sandra Pires from award-winning local company Why Documentaries and Musical Director Peter Teodorescu graduate of Bucharest Academy of Music and local producer, director and teacher.

Aspirant actors/singers will be selected from the auditions on June 22 and then required to be available each evening between 5:30pm and 9:30 pm for a week of rehearsals and development production between 12 – 16 August this year at the Bruce Gordon Theatre in the IPAC complex, Burelli St Wollongong.

No auditions for playing musical instruments will take place.
Aarne, Sandra and Peter will direct and supervise this development
production with the assistance and contribution from local singers and Choral Director, Debra Jones and the Solidarity Choir culminating in a full
non-box-office development read-through and singing on the final evening of the week provided by MerrigongX.


The May Day Queen of the Scarlet Belt was written and pieced together by
long-time local Wal Pritchard who has experienced activism in the local peace and trade union movement both overseas and from one side of Australia to the other; experienced in May Day activism going back to the Vietnam War years.

The play was finalised when Wal was invited on a fellowship to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in Greenmount Western Australia. The musical aspects are a combination of traditional songs and new material. Beginning with Aarne Neeme, all those principally engaged in the production are specialists in their field and are participating in the production in a spirit of artistic support and in pursuit of the story reaching a professional level and wider audience where commercial returns will be assessed. Any workers engaged for services in the process of this production will be paid agreed award wages and conditions.


The setting of the play is the NSW town of Port Kembla 80 km south of Sydney and hemmed in by the Great Dividing Range and the Pacific Ocean or Tasman Sea. With some of the world’s best coal held in the escarpment and quality iron ore only a few days sailing away, the area became the centre of the steel industry and is still the biggest industrial complex ever built in Australia.

The play moves in some scenes to the spectacular coal mining cliff sites of the northern suburbs but mainly concentrates on the waterfront and Top Pub watering hole of Port Kembla. Because of its militant union history and socialist politics, the coastal area became known as The Scarlet (or Red) Belt.

The year is 1967 which was a pivotal year in many respects with the world’s first major industrial action against the Vietnam War; with the war set to become a divisive political issue around the globe. The year 1967 was also when the referendum took place on Commonwealth Government control of affairs for Australia’s first people. It was also around this time that bankers approached the Nobel Academy in Sweden with a proposal to have a prize for economics which opened the door for prestigious acknowledgement and promotion of neo-liberal free trade, trickle-down monetarist systems.

The Story begins with our lead character Doc, a Dharawal man, mourning his departed family members yet celebrating his philosophies gained from his aboriginality, his religion and his politics. In the next scene, he catches up with The Judge, a veteran of the Spanish Republican crusade and the Dalfram dispute in which the wharfies in Port Kembla refused to load pig iron for trade with imperialist Japan. Judge is also a rough and tumble gambler whose visits to the racetrack he describes as ‘tackling capitalism at the coalface’.

The pair are joined on a train returning from Sydney by Tamara O’Hara, a young Irish librarian/teacher in search of her father; their adventures take them through May Day marches, Vietnam War protests and finally to the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which in typically Australian fashion, coincided almost to the hour with the running of the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s premier horse race.

Along the way the trio are joined by Doc’s long-suffering companion Macedonian Millie, who owns the Top Pub, a complicated priest with a scurrilous history, more scoundrels from different parts of the world, shady police and officials and a mysterious figure from the international intelligence agency called White Eyes as
our heroes try to place the planet on the right – or left -path.


Doc – A Dharawal man; Secretary of the Ports Committee in Port Kembla, NSW; Secretary of Port Social and Welfare Fund and member of communist movement. (33)
Judge – Retired wharfie, of Welsh background; illegal bookie and considered a scoundrel by some; Spanish Civil War veteran, MV Dalfram dispute veteran and Treasurer of, the Port Social and Welfare Fund and a communist movement member. Judge is a boarder at the Top Pub. (51)
Tamara O’Hara – An Irish girl who came to Australia in search of her father and found work as a librarian in Port Augusta, South Australia. Her search brings her to Port Kembla. (24)
Macedonian Millie – Owner of the Top Pub in Port Kembla which sits on a hill overlooking the Steelworks; the widow of the previous owner and the suffering landlady of the Judge. (39)
Mr Nice Guy * – MNG – is a mysterious public servant connected to White Eyes intelligence unit overseas, who only appears in mirrors and windows when in conversation with the cast members or the audience. (59)

Lesser Roles:
Shaky O’Toole – Has an Irish background; bush socialist and illegal safe-cracker by profession, searching for his own brand of economic revolution; he is an old acquaintance of the Judge. (40-ish)
Sergeant Willy Sling – Local police officer charged with making sure everything runs smoothly in Port Kembla; recently seconded by intelligence services to assist in matters of law and order. (35)
Mad Monk * – MM – The local priest with a shady background. (51)
Pokie – Pierre Pocomon — Educated at John Paul University in Quebec. An old colleague of the Judge in the Spanish Civil War who has returned to Port Kembla as an operative for a shooting and fishing party.

Nguen Van Duoc – NVD – A Vietnamese refugee who is both anti-communist and anti-American.
Seamus O’Hara – Tamara’s father. (Does not appear in play)
Ace Riley – Operative for White Eyes Intelligence (Australia) Pty Ltd., recently appointed to Port Kembla to thwart anti-war protests.
Aunty – Dharawal Aunty Joy Relative of Doc’s late mother. A mentor to Doc who lives in Scarborough, 20 kilometres north of Port Kembla on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. (53)
Lady Epsom – Wife of the big factory owner
Conductor – Conductor on train who happens to be the brother of Senior
Sergeant Willy Sling

Diverse Characters which make up on-stage audience members in various scenes and gatherings; include in this some lifesavers, shooters and fishers, Klansmen, senators and a mixed bunch of Port Kembla workers.

CHOIR – Sing the two opening numbers and others throughout the play. Quite a few of the songs are from the repertoires of progressive choirs, some of which will be sung by cast members in the conduct of the story, some by the choir and
National Anthem with original lyrics at the start of the May Day March.

For all those wishing to perform in the development of this local
production on a generally-speaking amateur basis, the production
team have centralised the contact point so a programme for the
afternoon of June 22 can be established.

Please contact: or
text 0418918836 with following information:

  1. Part interested in playing
  2. Work Experience if any
  3. Preferred time on Saturday 22 June between
    12 noon and 5 pm at EGTC theatre
  4. Contact Details
    Copies of script will be available at the venue. Excerpts might be able to be sent out on request depending on response.
    Time allocated will be up to ten minutes but subject to director panel’s discretion. Costumes will not be provided but if actor supplies own costume no time can be allowed for change. A piano and accompaniment will be available but any complicated pieces will be at actor/singer’s own judgement as to whether panel can accommodate the piece.
    An additional rehearsal date can only be judged on response and practicality.
    Thank You, See you there.
    Production Team per WP