Sydney-based Kinetic Energy Theatre Company's team of six actors performed their show about the Australian 1965 “freedom ride” at Sydney University on December 14. The performance was part of a conference organised by the Aboriginal Studies Association and attended by teachers and Aboriginal counsellors from all over NSW.
The show tells the story of how the freedom ride came about, with prominent students such as Jim Spigelman and Ann Curthoys at the helm, and how the first Aboriginal student ever to enrol at uni and get a degree, Charlie Perkins, took on his legendary role as leader and activist. The story focuses on the strategies that were employed — how to resist abuse, how to use the media, how to attract worldwide attention — and then zooms in on the protest in Walgett.
The show made quite an impact, moving some spectators to tears. Most attendees stayed on afterwards to talk further about the issues raised: racism in Australia now, the ongoing disadvantages suffered by Australia's indigenous peoples, and the abhorrent NT Intervention being prolonged for 10 more years under its new misleading name “Stronger Futures”.
Many of the Aboriginal audience members shared their personal stories. Others commented on the importance of this history being told. Such reactions show how effective theatre can be, as a tool for healing, as well as for awareness raising and activism.
In 2013, Kinetic Energy will take this show on the road again, coupled with a dramatisation of Bougainville’s struggle for independence — and the despicable role the Australian government and Rio Tinto played in the conflict. The company will use these stories as a primer for debate about current land grabs by mining interests in Australia and worldwide.
The 2013 Kinetic Jazz Festival is also on at St Luke's in Enmore from January 22-27, with a wonderful program that can be found at KineticJazz.com.
As an act of solidarity with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island nations of this stolen continent, we invite our audience to apply for an Aboriginal passport on this year's Invasion Day. At 4pm on January 26, Wiradjuri elder Ray Jackson will acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, and reflect on the dire significance of this day for Australia's indigenous peoples.
Over the course of the rest of the day, Jackson will issue Aboriginal passports to anyone interested, who will need to bring $10 and one passport photo for this purpose.
[Jepke Goudsmit is co-director of Kinetic Energy and Kinetic Jazz.]