Photo - Jeff Busby
Kin is a special project for Stephen Page, Artistic Director of Bangarra Dance Theatre. In this work he has brought together seven young family members, six of his nephews and his son Hunter, and together with brother and composer David Page, worked with them to explore their experiences as young Aboriginal boys growing up in today's world. The end result is something special. The performance is full of energy and humour and in the brief space of thirty-five minutes touches on many of the themes that run through and bind together contemporary Indigenous culture. Dance, music, storytelling and film evoke some of the central realities of life for these young boys - past and present, good and bad.
Kin opens with the boys gathering for a jam session. There is general banter and chatter before they pick up their instruments and strut their stuff; and their stuff is good. So good that I at first thought perhaps they were miming to pre-recorded music. The drummer and lead guitarist are outstanding, demonstrating amazing natural talent.
Then the boys discover a smoking, broken down, old car and this becomes the 'stage' for the rest of the performance. Playing with a variety of genres – rap, traditional dance, spoken word and movement - they dance over and around the car, seek refuge within it, gather on it to share stories of past and present - petrol sniffing, learning about culture, domestic violence, racism, and the power of country. I was particularly moved by the rap rendition of the 1962 Aboriginal Charter of Rights, written by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker):
We need help, not exploitation,
We want freedom, not frustration;
Not control, but self-reliance,
Independence, not compliance...
The performance ends with moving and beautifully evocative images of the importance of culture and country.
Stephen and David Page have worked with the natural talents of each of their performers to create a work that is full of energy and full of heart. The performers may be young and relatively inexperienced (they range in age from 10 to 14), however under the guidance of their elders they demonstrate real talent as musicians, singers, dancers and storytellers. The themes and issues may be theirs but they are not limited to young people. Kin offers something for everyone, young and old, Indigenous and non Indigenous, performers and audience. It is as professional and engaging as the best adult theatre and never didactic.
Kin is moving and poetic theatre and the young performers are people to watch in the future. I'd like to list all their names but they know who they are and their performances were truly deadly.
Malthouse Theatre presents
Devised and Directed by Stephen Page
Venue: Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse
Dates: 27 September – 6 October 2007
Times: Thursday 27 September at 7pm, Friday 28 September at 7pm, Saturday 29 September & 6 October 4.30pm & 7pm, Sunday 30 September at 5pm, Tuesday 2 October at 10.30am & 1.30pm, Wednesday 3 October at 2.30pm & 6.30pm, Friday 5 October at 6.30pm & 8pm
Tickets: $18 - $26
Bookings: 9685 5111/ www.malthousetheatre.com.au