World premiere: Flight Memory

The Street Theatre, Canberra
14-17 November 2019

Information and bookings: thestreet.org.au

The so-called ‘black box’ flight recorder is probably Australia’s greatest gift to global aviation safety. Flight Memory, a new song suite at The Street Theatre, tells the story of its inventor, Dr David Warren AO.

Caroline Stacey tells Richard about Flight Memory

Commissioned by the Street , this world premiere has been four years in the making. It pairs ARIA-nominated composer Sandra France with Helpmann award winning lyricist and playwright Alana Valentine.

Flight Memory is directed by The Street’s artistic director Caroline Stacey, and will feature multi-award-winning performers Michelle Nicolle, Liam Budge and Leisa Keen, supported by a six-piece ensemble of Canberra’s finest musicians.

Caroline Stacey describes Flight Memory as, ‘Part requiem, part cheeky finger in the air to our relentless cultural cringe, ultimately this is a work which brings science and art together transporting its audience into the mystery of human endeavour, and a celebration of original Australian cultural expression.’

The Street applied successfully to the ANZAC Centenary Art and Culture Fund to commission renowned female writers and composers to collaborate on a new creative work that would champion Australia’s innovation and contribution to the wellbeing of the world. It worked on the project with Defence Science and Technology, for which David Warren worked for more than 30 years.

Dr Warren and his invention challenged the belief that ‘everything good would get invented somewhere else’. His inspiration for the flight recorder is said to have come from an investigation of the crash of the world’s first commercial jet airliner, the Comet, in 1953.

Flight Memory also explores the influence on Dr Warren of his father, Anglican missionary Rev Hubert Warren, who died when a 12 passenger De Havilland 86 aircraft crashed into Bass Strait en route from Launceston to Melbourne on October 19, 1934.

Dr David Warren with the first prototype Flight Data Recorder (photo: public domain, Department of Defence)

You can read more about David Warren and his invention in an article by the BBC’s Rebecca Seales entitled This little-known inventor has probably saved your life.