StoryLines Festival

17 Aug

Why do we put on theatre?

If it was to make money it’d be an odd choice. Many of us would do better as lawyers, or selling mobile phones, or even waiting tables. Hey, you might even make more washing windscreens. It’s a lucky enough country that you could almost live on that. And lucky enough that most of us don’t need to try to.

So why do we put on theatre? It’d be easier not to. It doesn’t just happen. It can be like herding cats.

And don’t give me that crap about theatre being the most natural thing in the world. “All the world’s a stage” is just professional myopia. To footballers all the world’s a game. To risk assessors all the world’s an accident waiting to happen. To fishermen all the world smells of fish.

We put on theatre because we’ve got something to say. That something can be as sad and shallow as I didn’t get enough attention in my childhood and so I want it NOW.

Or it can be a gift.

Suzanne Millar’s StoryLines Festival is a beautiful gift. By giving voice to a range of minority cultures, it’s a timely sharing.

I was lucky enough to see A Land Beyond the River and Junction, two plays by Justin Fleming that are part of this festival. Both pieces were brought to stage by some marvelous performances.

Junction is a symbolic piece exploring the concept of responsibility. We make the world, it says – a dreadful dazzling duty.

A Land Beyond The River employs the conceit of a university production of To Kill a Mockingbird. It features the moving personal stories of three African refugees.

Here’s my memory of my favourite section [apologies to the very talented Justin].

You’re black, someone says to one of the African Australian actors. You should play the role of Tom Robinson.

And so he does – but, for a man faced with hanging for a crime he didn’t commit, a trifle too exuberantly.

WHAT was that? Can’t you understand the extraordinary prejudice Tom has suffered?   Couldn’t you be, I don’t know, more…. cowered?

I could try, I guess, replies the recently resettled refugee, but right now I feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world.

That is the beautiful gift: That we acknowledge our good fortune. And share it.

Veronica Kaye


Bondi Pavilion til 25 Aug [A Land Beyond The River and Junction til Aug 17]

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