Not in Print: playwrights off script - on inspiration, process and theatre itself

The Shoe-horn Sonata: digging up the past l Award-winning Australian theatre

July 11, 2013

In 1945 Sheila and Bridie were freed from a Japanese POW camp deep in the jungles of Sumatra where thousands of women and children had lived and died virtually forgotten by their own governments. Now, after being separated for half a century, the filming of a television documentary forces them to relive the past, contact the present and question the future.


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After working as a solicitor, John Misto changed direction; he decided to become a writer. That career change eventually led to The Shoe-Horn Sonata. It is dense, shocking and poignant - a piece of narrative non-fiction that depicts real life events with a solicitors’ attention to factual detail and a storyteller’s understanding of how emotional truths must be drawn out through narrative construction. The play won the 1995 NSW Premier’s Literary Award, but John was (perhaps) more satisfied that it had rung true for the WWII nurses whose story he was sharing with the world.