Melbourne discovers Columbus

Issue 

Melbourne discovers Columbus

The 500th anniversary of Columbus' "discovery" of America has aroused controversy around the world. People in Latin America are particularly upset at the celebration of what became a bloody conquest, leading to the wiping out of many native peoples.

Columbus himself has "copped a lot of flack" in the controversy, being demoted from the position of great historical hero to that of bloodthirsty adventurer lusting for gold.

John Brotherton, head of the School of Latin American Studies at the University of New South Wales, has another look at the Columbus legend in his new play The True Confessions of Christopher Columbus, which opens September 11 in Melbourne. Basing himself on the true history of Columbus, Brotherton has developed an uproariously funny but provocative monologue, in which the character makes his "confessions" to the audience.

Columbus was the son of a Genoese weaver, and spent his life trying to escape from his humble origins. In this new version, he is transformed into a northern English con man, with a strong accent and a large chip on the shoulder. The part is played by Brotherton himself, accompanied by Justo Diaz, of the Papalote group, who composed music especially for the play.

The True Confessions of Christopher Columbus was a great success at its premier in Auckland at an International 500th Anniversary Conference, for which it was commissioned, and will be performed at Sydney's Belvoir Street Theatre in October.

The play is presented by the Fringe Network, and will be on at the Brunswick Mechanics of Glenlyon and Sydney Roads, Brunswick, on Fridays and Saturdays, September 11-12 and 18-19. For bookings, call (03) 429 5120.