Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

Tags Elton Wirri

Tag: Elton Wirri

Two packed houses get shot in the arm from the play, Namatjira

Laughter, more than tears, tells this foundation story of black-white relations.

 

What did we feel coming away from the show of the theatre production, Namatjira? That things will get better, that they are better – between black and white Australians and for Aboriginal people themselves. And this was despite the sad, even bleak last scenes that show the unrelenting pressures on famed Arrernte watercolour painter Albert Namatjira as he tried to manage his success in the white world and his position within his own large family and wider clan; and despite our recognition that these pressures in many ways are unchanged today.

So how better? By the very fact these two outstanding Aboriginal performers, Trevor Jamieson and Derek Lynch, and all their collaborators, are able to trace this foundation story of black-white relations through laughter, more than tears, and through a rich narrative, not ideology, sentiment and slogans. And by the fact that they have drawn sell-out houses around Australia; that 850 people, mostly remote community residents,  traveled into Ntaria / Hermannsburg  for the staging of the play there last Wednesday night; that Araluen sold out two shows on Saturday and could probably have sold out a third. We are hungry for this – being able to laugh at ourselves, at our collective foibles, clumsiness, ignorance as we deal with one another, being able to rejoice in the creativity and friendships that bridge the gaps. For the revelatory story of the show is the friendship (much more than mentorship) between Namatjira and the World War I veteran turned artist Rex Battarbee – the ways that art opened up possibilities for them both, became the bridge between them and the ground for a friendship that endured. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.

 

Pictured: Derek Lynch (left) and Trevor Jamieson, with artists from the Namatjira family in the background. Photo by Grant McIntyre, courtesy Big hART.

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