‘Black as Michael Jackson and Other Identity Monologues’ is the first semi-autobiographical collaboration between emerging writer Michelle White and her award winning co-writer Karla Hart. Proudly part of the 2012 City of Perth Winter Arts Season, this is a joint Blue Room Theatre and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company world premiere. Performances are at 7.00 pm nightly in the Blue Room main auditorium, Northbridge until Saturday 7th July.
Yirra Yaakin is Noongar for ‘stand tall’, and this set of very different monologues shows why the Aboriginals of Australia have every right to stand tall. The dozen, very well written sketches giving glimpses of indigenous life, are skilfully presented in various genres – which aren’t too surprising as Noongar means ‘people of many beasts’.
After a wonderfully warm, from-the-heart welcome, partly in Nyungar and the rest in English from a Speaker, the show opened with a couple of sketches in rhyme reminding us of the past.
Onto a full wall-sized, white backcloth is projected an aboriginal painting, a scene of the wheat belt. With each act, the picture changes season and view. The well-constructed sound track brings us the sounds of the native animals and birds as we listen to the stories.
This show is 75-minutes of raw and poignant moments, blended with an insight to lifestyle, and infused with extremely funny humour. Some of the wit is self-deprecating, but then a fast moving, punchy collage comprising 5-second snippets of street interviews with aboriginals and whitefellas follows this. All of the parts again being played superbly by Karla Hart and Della Rae Morrison.
As two friends are sitting around the kitchen table, they decided to go walkabout, ‘back to the basics’. As they sit chatting about what exactly the ‘basics’ involves, the banter is uproarious. To be called a ‘coconut’ (black in appearance but white inside) is naturally a major insult to an Aboriginal, but in an extremely hilarious sketch, we discover how very difficult it is for a blonde, fair-skinned Aboriginal girl to prove that she is indigenous at heart. Perhaps the courts, with searching questions, will be able to make a decision on her identity. We are then taken from a well-observed, wild ‘girls’-night-out’ to the hypocrisy and cruelty of a 50s ‘caring’ children’s home.
This fast moving night of mirth, was wonderfully directed and dramaturged by Monica Main. The two performers, Karla and Della Rae, were a great team. The repartee and comedy flowed naturally, I genuinely believe that they have the ability to do an aboriginal ‘Kath and Kim’ style TV series – let us hope the chance will occur. Technically very well presented, with sound production by Luke Hewitt and video by Nicola Davison assisted by Mat de Koning – sorry no lighting credits available.
For three months now, I have been waking up at 4.15 to listen to Sally Morgan’s book ‘My Place’ being serialised on 720 radio. I expected this show to be similar, with purely recollections from decades ago, but it was not. This was fresh and delightful material, brilliantly delivered by two talented actors.
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