"Geoffrey was born for the role" - Ted Egan
Over the years Geoffrey Graham saw one man shows of Lawson, Dennis, Nielson and Mark Twain. His vision was to perform a one man show of 'the Banjo'.
The catalyst was the Waltzing Matilda Centenary at Winton in April 1995. The
performance was specifically devised for the centenary and it was here that Australians voted overwhelmingly for the Banjo and for Geoffrey.
The show struck a chord in people, so much so that Geoffrey has been touring ever since. This has taken him from cities to small country towns. Towns like Bena in Victoria
to Weipa in Queensland and Lock in South Australia. Crossing the borders of Folk and Country, Geoffrey has taken the show to many festivals including the Gympie Muster,
Tamworth Country Music Festival, Port Fairy Festival in Victoria and festivals at Karoondah, VIC Harbour, Woodford, Rockhampton and many others. A school version of
the performance has also been devised and accepted from Victoria to Queensland.
Though Geoffrey has another show "Ratbags & Romantics" up and running "The Man from
Ironbark" is still the masthead as he continues to tour across the country.
It's difficult to describe Geoffrey Graham's presentation of the Life and works of A.B. Paterson entitled "The Man from Ironbark". Geoffrey breaks through the boundaries of
several formats of entertainment to come up with a winning style. The show is presented in such a unique format, it's hard to imagine anyone not being impressed.
Geoffrey leads his audience on an emotional journey as we travel from city to outback, from hardship to good times, through wars, strife and skulduggery. Who doesn't
remember yelling out "Murder, bloody murder" when delving into the verse of "Banjo" Paterson at school? "The Man from Ironbark" was one poem we loved, being the only
time you could swear at school, and get away with it.
This particular poem epitomises the larrikin element, Australians hold so dear. The ability
to not take ourselves so seriously. That bit of Ned Kelly in us all. Many Australians we can call lovable ratbags. Dawn Fraser, Fred Hollows, Frank Hardy; the list goes on. The Banjo
was able to capture that element in so many poems getting that emotional response in varied ways. The pathos in Lost, the anguish in The Last Parade, the pride in Bandy
Burke, the cynicism in The Hypnotist, the beauty of Clancy and so on.
The show crosses all boundaries of age and occupation. Young and old are mesmerised
by the apparition of this character that looks so like the real thing, it's uncanny. One chap told Geoffrey the day after he had seen the show "I really wanted to talk to you after the
show yesterday, but I couldn't, I kept thinking you really were "Banjo" Paterson."
Peter Greenaway, from Channel 10 remarked "I've never seen where people of such
varied ages, were all laughing at the same moment, kids, elderly & middle aged."
All Australians are familiar with the words of the "Banjo" and relate extraordinarily well to
the emotional roller coaster that is Geoffrey's show. Like a platypus, it's a real mixture.. part play, part drama, part theatre, part comedy. It combines many facets of performing and music.
Banjo, the man, his life and that poem...
Click here to read a little about the life of A B Paterson, and read the full text of that
famous poem, "The Man from Ironbark"