Shake. Canberra Youth Theatre directed by Linda McHugh at Tracking Kultja, National Museum of Australia, First Australians Gallery. October 13-14 and Wednesday October 17, 2001, 10 am, 12 noon, 2 pm.
Earlier in the year I wrote about museum theatre - theatre in a museum, that is - at NMA. I hoped that there would be more. Well, there is, and there will be, and there should be, if we take CYT's Shake as a guide.
Daina Harvey from NMA has just returned from a conference of the International Museum Theatre Alliance and is enthused now to use actors to present real characters from our history to bring NMA's exhibits even more to life. In the meantime she helped lead a small group around the opening performance on Saturday of CYT's "street" theatre in 5 vignettes.
Shake runs like a small creek, beginning at a high waterfall of sounds - The Australian Declaration Towards Aboriginal Reconciliation. Then a small eddying pool of movement - Land and Spirit. In a quiet perhaps rainforested section of still water we heard Childhood Stories and saw figures of childhood, labelled like trees in a national park. Water then fell in thin strands in among the audience, with the words of laws about the "Protector of Aborigines" on a teletype ticker tape passing through people's fingers and before their eyes.
On reaching the point where the creek should shake hands with the sea, coming together was as turbulent as peaceful, raising Questions and Answers. Here the non-indigenous people, stood in line, asleep, head on the next person's shoulder. Then one stirs and calls "Wake up!" to the next and so on down the line, until the last says "Sorry", and the word flows back up the line. Isn't reconciliation easy, hey?
But when the indigenous people cry "Wake up!", the one on the end lies dead. There is silence and grieving. To achieve such a powerful and telling image in the Museum, in the First Australians Gallery, cannot fail to wake us, to make us realise past failings and how much must be done to turn the Australian Declaration Towards Aboriginal Reconciliation from easy words into hard reality.
Catch it Wednesday if you can.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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