A man stands alone beside a chair, inside a ring of white powder. Excerpts from political speeches, radio shock jocks and journalists are played, juxtaposing Rudd's "Sorry" speech with the racist views and policies of white Australia. When the man begins to speak, we realise that we are in for one powerful performance.
In this impressive original play by She Said Theatre, the stories of four Noongar men are shared, verbatim, as they reflect on their experience of the Stolen Generation.
The stories mix and meld, but there are four distinct personalities here. Four lives amongst so many that have been impacted over decades by the policies of successive Australian Governments.
The stories begin in 1930s Western Australia, where young boys and girls are being taken – in some cases tricked, in others by force – into missions and foster care. Breaking individuals and their families, breaking cultural ties.
The four men are Sam, Paul, Hart and Ian. Ian Michael is the solo performer and co-author of the show. A young man, his story pulls us all the way through to the present, reminding us that decades of displacement, degradation and loss continue to have an impact today. Not just on the lives of the Stolen, but on their families and communities, and on our Australian culture as a whole.
When the team started on this project, Abbott was referring to remote communities as a "lifestyle choice". Adam Goodes was being booed on the football field. And a report was released showing that the number of Aboriginal children in care has risen by 65% since the 2008 National Apology. In other words, it is more important now than ever that these stories are told – and heard.
This show is a part of that conversation. Its power is not just in the stories themselves, but in how expertly the show has been put together. Multiple layers of this show are seamlessly interwoven into one another, from the costuming, to the dynamic set, and to the expertly-curated sound bites and photographs.
This is one of the most important pieces of Australian theatre I have seen in a long time, and it has a rising talent in the form of Ian Michael. Please, go and see HART. You won't forget it.