Namatjira at Belvoir Street Theatre

Two ghost gums in front of a blue sky and a red mountain, with red dirt in the foreground.

Two ghost gums in front of a blue sky and a red mountain, with red dirt in the foreground.

Last year, I wrote a post about the Aboriginal Australian stories I’d had around me when I was growing up (as far as I know, none of the stories I was exposed to were stories of Torres Strait Islanders). I also wrote about Indigenous Australian characters, and an interesting comment thread developed about stories about Indigenous Australian characters and people.

If, like me, you are interested in seeing more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, you will be delighted to hear that the Belvoir Street Theatre’s [NB: site down at time of writing] collaboration with Big hART to produce Namatjira has resulted in the best play I’ve seen for a long, long time.

It is an excellent performance and an excellent production. It is hilarious and emotive. It involves Trevor Jamieson, a Pitjantjatjara man, making a whole lot of jokes at white people’s expense – which was incredibly refreshing.

It doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, and I’m not entirely comfortable with the depiction of the female characters (mostly done by Derek Lynch, a Yankunytjatjara and central Arrente man). I think my discomfort comes from the caricatured nature of the depictions – but many of the characters were caricatured, and I don’t think there was anything innately misogynist in the depiction of the female characters. I think my discomfort stems more from the extremely peripheral role played by all female characters.

In any case, the play is incredible and well worth seeing.


* The picture is from Rock Portrait Photography’s flickr photostream. I’m using it under a Creative Commons attribution licence.

Categories: arts & entertainment

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1 reply

  1. That does sound immensely refreshing, Jo. Performed in one of the best spaces in Sydney, too

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