Flashes of Our Past; Top Actors Combine for a Take on Australia's History for a Special Event, Writes Seanna Cronin

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AN ESTEEMED group of film, television and stage actors have united for The History Channel's special TV event.

Hosted by author Thomas Keneally, The People Speak features 25 actors and musicians delivering the letters, songs and speeches of rebels, visionaries and protesters from Australia's rich democratic past.

Sam Worthington, David Wenham, Ryan Kwanten, Rebecca Gibney and Jack Thompson are just some of the big names who take part in impassioned performances.

The two-hour special is inspired by the American format created by actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in 2009, when A-listers including Morgan Freeman, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder and Josh Brolin performed crucial moments in America's history. Chandon Pictures and Paper Giants star Rob Carlton said he didn't have to think twice about participating in the readings, performed in front of a live studio audience at Sydney's historic Carriageworks.

C[pounds sterling]I'm interested in history and the way it shapes our sense of self and obviously being story tellers, we're always leaning on the days that come before us,C[yen] he said.

C[pounds sterling]Then there was the way they were going to stage it at the Carriageworks at Redfern as a one-night event. It just felt really special. When I found out the other people who had agreed to do it, then that turned the filming evening into something special.C[yen]

Carlton said there was a C[pounds sterling]nervous energyC[yen] backstage among the actors.

C[pounds sterling]Everyone was anxiously pacing before their speeches,C[yen] he said.

C[pounds sterling]It's a different performance style. We hadn't memorised the speeches, we were reading the speeches.

C[pounds sterling]It was like a performed reading, and so when you take actors out of their comfort zones there's a nervous energy. …