HART is beautiful, heartbreaking and liberating storytelling.
With old checkerboard lino, faded damask wallpaper and a wooden table, the tiny stage in the Fringe hub Parlour Room looks like a farm kitchen from anytime in the last 200 years. A place where people yarn and gossip and share their stories. It’s here that Ian Michael tells the stories – including his own – of four Noongar men from, what we call, south-west Western Australia.
From interviews with writers (Senna van Helten and Michael) and testimonies told to the Stolen Germinations’ Testimonies Foundation, the four stories are told in the first person. With Michael keeping the same persona, it’s not always clear who’s story is being told, and it’s this technique that makes it such an extraordinary telling.
Each is so personal – it’s easy to dismiss a generalisation, but much harder to ignore one person’s experience – but their similarities and the discussion of generational trauma and forgiveness make it a story about us and now.
HART opens with sound grabs from our politicians. While there are moments of relief and pride, too many cannot see the shame and ignorance in their statements. What do we have to do to get them to see work – “excellent” art – like this?
It continues with photos of people whose stories could also be told. The photos flash by so quickly that it’s impossible to really see them. This is frustrating but painfully cries out that there are so many stories that have already been lost.
Once told, stories cannot be lost and we have to keep telling them until everyone listens.