Like theatre, story telling is an art that has continued through the ages and Ian Michael masters both with HART – an emotional piece highlighting Australia’s recent sorry past.
Michael, a Noongar man in his 20s, is a new generation storyteller keeping the stories of his ancestors alive and relevant, as elders have done for thousands of years before him.
HARTstarts with familiar voices –Colin Barnett, Lang Hancock, Tony Abbott, Allan Jones, Kevin Rudd, Pauline Hanson, John Howard, Julia Gillard and more – but it comes to life when Michael gives his voice to three generations of people tied to the Stolen Generations.
He delivers with class and draws on humour in what would otherwise be an uncomfortable and confronting soliloquy.
In HART, in Reconciliation Week, HotHouse Theatre has a work that resonates.
The play runs at the Butter Factory Theatre until June 3, and a ticket also includes an indigenous themed meal.
A vegetarian tart or lamb are offered, prepared and presented by the hospitality training unit at Beechworth Correctional Centre.
HART opened to a full house private performance for Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service on Friday, May 26, recognising the 20th anniversary of Bringing Them Home: the ‘Stolen Children’ Report. and had its public opening on May 27.
The play is well constructed and cleverly executed. A simple set full of symbolism. Our storyteller is seemingly trapped within an endless cycle with no opening in sight.
Sound and visual components strengthen the impact of Michael’s performance.
Set designer Chloe Greaves has done a first class job while director Penny Harpam has a storyteller of the highest calibre in Michael – honest, passionate and believable.
Among the opening audio sequence are grabs of Paul Keating’s landmark Redfern Speech in 1992, where he suggests the starting point to right the wrongs of Australia’s past “might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians”.
Now, here in Reconciliation Week 25 years of speeches later, HART asks how many more speeches are needed before Australia genuinely moves forward as a united nation?
If theatre is to challenge us, it is a good question.
John Chanter, Border Mail
29 May 2017
Photo by James Wilshire, Border Mail