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Award-winning play on WWII inspired by faith, says Catholic playwright

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Cast members from Timothy Daly’s play ‘The Man in the Attic’. Left to right: Colleen Cook, Gus Murray, Danielle King, Barry French. PHOTO: Blumenthal Photography.

Timothy Daly, whose award-winning play on the Jewish Holocaust is currently showing in Sydney, says his Catholic faith was the best preparation possible for his career as a playwright.

“Catholicism taught me to search out what matters,” Mr Daly told The Catholic Weekly. “Judaism and Catholicism share a need to discover truths beneath the surface.”

“In retrospect, my Catholic faith was one of the best preparations I could have had for my later career as a playwright. The other great training was music, as it taught me to consider language itself as ‘musical’.”

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Mr Daly has written a number of national and international productions, and Academy Award winning actors such as Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush have performed in his plays.

His latest play, ‘The Man in the Attic,’ is showing at Sydney’s Eternity Playhouse from 4 to 22 July.

It tells the true story of a Jewish man who was hidden by a German couple in their attic during World War II. After the War had ended the couple led the man to believe the Nazis had won and kept him captive in their home for their own profit.

Award-winning playwright, Timothy Daly, says his Catholic faith was the best preparation for his career. PHOTO: Supplied

The play received the Patrick White Award and has played to sold-out theatres in France. This is the first time it has played in Australia.

Mr Daly says he could not have invented a story as incredible as the true events his play depicts.

“Every ten years or so a writer gets lucky. He discovers a story so amazing—beyond even the ability of fiction to create.”

“I could not have invented the amazing real-life twist—that a couple who sheltered a Jew during World War II would, for economic reasons, decide not to tell him that the War had ended! Who would have thought of that?”

In real life the couple were eventually taken to court and sentenced to prison for their crime. Mr Daly’s play however ends before that point.

He said faith has an important role in the play where “everyone is galvanized by faith of some sort—or is struggling with the loss of his or her faith.”

“This is a condition that every religious person will understand because strong faith usually emerges after crisis, struggle and growth. Catholics are constantly dealing both with the tenets of belief and the difficulty of adhering perfectly to them.”

Mr Daly said he hopes his play will evoke in his audience a “faith in people.”

“If people can survive a war as devastating as World War II, then people can survive anything. The history of the world since World War II has already proved this point.”

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