Unanderra is now a fairly quiet suburb that lies about ten kilometres south-west of Wollongong. But in the 1870s, Unanderra (then Charcoal Creek) was the site of one of the first documented instances of violent resistance to new arrivals by white Australians.
The event provided the inspiration for award-winning playwright Marcel Dorney’s new work Charcoal Creek, which will premiere at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre tomorrow night.
“The piece is like an historical footnote,” says director Anne-Louise Rentell. “Marcel found this story that happened in Charcoal Creek in the 1870s. There wasn’t enough historical documentation around that to know what it really was, so the play really is completely fictional.”
“But based on that, he thought about a whole lot of things about our history as Australians and those things in our more recent history that have defined us nationally in terms of how we relate to change.”
Several workshops of the play have been held over the past 18 months, but Rentell says the creative process has been fairly smooth given Dorney’s experience.
Rentell believes that the play, despite its roots in early Australia, covers themes that are very immediate to Australian society today. She believes the play will resonate particularly with audiences in the Illawarra.
“I would say that in a lot of regional areas there is resistance to new people who come to the place,” she says. “Even if you’ve lived somewhere for a very long time, unless you have some kind of history here, you’re always seen as not from here.”
Charcoal Creek’s official opening night is Thursday 7 June, 2012 and the show will run until 16 June.
Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, 32 Burelli St, Wollongong NSW 2500
Dates: Previews June 5 & 6 • Opening Night June 7 • June 7 — 16
Post Show Q&A: Thurs 14 June at 11am & 7:30pm
Ticket Prices: $29 — $49
Bookings: Illawarra Performing Arts Centre Box Office on (02) 4224 5999 or www.merrigong.com.au