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Letters to Lindy

It’s the story that gripped – and divided – the nation.

By Tamara Howie

An infant snatched by a dingo. Her mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, trialled by the media and jailed by the courts for murder. Multiple inquests and finally, three decades later, a coronial finding that a dingo took nine-week-old Azaria from a tent.

During the 32-year ordeal, Chamberlain-Creighton received more than 20,000 letters from the public.

Playwright Alana Valentine delved into the 199 boxes of letters and spent time interviewing Chamberlain-Creighton about them for the theatre show Letters to Lindy

Valentine had a chat with Off The Leash ahead of the play’s Darwin debut, which she will attend for a Q&A after the show.

What was your initial reaction to  all the letters?
I was a bit intimidated, how am I going to look through this? What was extraordinary when I opened the boxes was that every letter had its own manila folder and they were colour coded with information – on the right hand corner of every folder was a yellow Post-it Note that summarised what was in the letter.

At what point did you think it would make a good play?
It was the relationship that Lindy had with the collection and the fact she had taken so much trouble to meticulously file them. Not just the nice letters, there was a small amount that were really nasty – the trolls that showed the really horrible part of human nature – that were treated the same way.

Tell us more about the play.
There’s a central monologue which are all Lindy’s words and it’s set on the day she’s putting the letters into the library. There are three other actors who are the chorus who read and re-enact the letters and take you on the narrative journey.
 
Was Lindy involved and what was her reaction to the final product?
I tried to involve her at every stage. She read the first draft of the play and after the first performance in Wollongong she came out and said ‘this is the closest to what I experienced of anything I’ve seen made about my story’. I promptly burst into tears because I was so relieved. It was more than relief – thank goodness she can feel this represents her.
 
Do people still write to her?
She still gets about 1000 emails a year.

Tue 14 & Wed 15 Aug | 7pm | Post Show Talk Tue 14 Aug | Darwin Entertainment Centre | See the event listing

Image: Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton; AP via AAP

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