Digger’s story set for the stage

The story of a young Forbes father who died in the Gallipoli campaign is set for the stage.

George Edward Bradford had barely celebrated his first wedding anniversary when he enlisted to serve with the army in World War I in January 1915. 

He kissed wife Ruby and new baby John Edward goodbye and reported for training. 

His infant son died before he even sailed out. He came home only briefly for the funeral and to bid his grieving wife goodbye.

Short months later, George died on board a hospital ship from his injuries.

A century on, his story has captured the heart of one of his descendants, who is bringing it to the stage. 

Mark Salvestro, an actor and director in Melbourne, came to Forbes last year to find out more about his great great uncle.

The weekend visit started a journey Salvestro describes as crazy and wonderful.

“It has taken many twists and turns over its development and I now have a complete script, which I did a showing of in October last year,” he said.

“Rather than just being about my great great uncle, it now incorporates my own experience of trying to discover his life.

“My visit to Forbes was crucial to the development because I was able to have a personal and visual connection to the places I talk about. 

“The help of the ladies at Forbes Family History Group was incredible.”

Mr Salvestro now has a full creative team on board and - following the run with a live audience - is waiting to hear back from some venues in Melbourne about a season.

“I'd love to bring it to Forbes some time after that,” he said.

Mr Salvestro has posted a video from his visit to Forbes on his website, 

“My first impression of Forbes is, it just has amazing buildings,” he said.

“My favourite has to be Town Hall.”

The first scene Mr Salvestro wrote took place in Town Hall, so he was thrilled to find it open when he visited for an art exhibition.

“To be in this place, to walk on these floorboards where George once was, was really special,” he said.

“I cannot believe this started with a painting and a name and now I feel like I know this man.”

Mr Salvestro says the play switches between the early 1900s and the 21st century as he explores his journey to discover his ancestor’s story. 

“What seemed to resonate with the audience at the development showing were the questions, ‘what is my legacy?’ and ‘what do I want to be remembered for?’,” he said.

You can follow the project through his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/marksalvestroactor 

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