Ngapartji Ngapartji One

Trevor Jamieson. Image by Heidrun Lohr
Trevor Jamieson. Image by Heidrun Lohr

The stillness of the audience once the lights rose from the darkness, after heartfelt applause not just for the cast but more importantly their story, suggests the reason Canberrans should see this show before it goes into hibernation again.

The Pitjatjantjara people and their country have suffered nuclear tests that number grossly beyond the average Australian’s understanding. Trevor Jamieson and cast narrate and conjure moments of their story within the context of Australia’s long history and evoking the collective memory of Hiroshima.

Trevor Jamieson, Scott Rankin and Big hART have personalised another dark cloud and overlooked stream in the two sides of Australia’s history. This has been done through the weaving of further details of history, use of first language, Jamieson’s vulnerability in exposing his family’s present story, and the juxtaposing physicality with film – historical and contemporary. The design evokes the other worldliness of the Desert region for coast dwellers. Symbolism and ritual are used, at times unknowingly, so that it creeps up on you and reveals the relationship of the Pitjatjantjara people and their country.

This story is so compelling, heart wrenching and utterly shameful that I wanted to leave at one point as I felt I could hear no more. If I had time and money I would arrange for local high school students to see this production as it clarifies and personalises the complexity of a range of abstract, politicised and stereotyped issues through Trevor Jamieson’s own experience of his family’s past and very present story.

I feel as though I am rambling as my mind is still processing and trying to cope with what was knowingly done to our own people, every step of their journey to the present day. I wanted to head straight to someone with the power to do something.

Trevor is his usual charming and disarming self. His daughter, Keischa, joins him adding further weight with her own story. Lex Marinos is playful, lending his warm commanding voice to several characters confidently. Yumi Umiumare’s physicality and characterisations are superb. The rest of the cast are great in supporting the focus of the story.

This story couldn’t be more necessary and relevant as the Warlpiri and surrounding Australians fight against a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, N.T. Maybe we can all do something about that.

Booking information: Canberra Theatre Centre 62752700

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