Coranderrk

When I saw this play last year at the Opera House, I went home afterwards, ashamed that I knew nothing of this incredible piece of indigenous history. Belvoir and ILBIJERRI theatre have combined to present this work again in Sydney and it has an even more powerful impact with an all indigenous cast. Coranderrk was an Aboriginal Station established in 1863 near Healesville in Victoria. Under the excellent management of a lay preacher John Green, the station flourished and was self sufficient. The indigenous population thrived and were treated with respect and kindness. Because of its success, various lobby groups at the time wanted a piece of the action and the valuable Coranderrk land for white settlers and urged the Board for the Protection of Aborigines to move the indigenous population on. After the dismissal of John Green, the men and women of Coranderrk fought back and after petitions and deputations, an inquiry was held in 1881 which had 69 witnesses, 22 of them Aboriginals. This play is a partial re-enactment of the inquiry presenting the personal testimonies of the sadness suffered by the men and women of Coranderrk after John Green’s dismissal and those that tried to destroy Coranderrk for their own selfish purposes. Whilst the Inquiry ultimately allowed Coranderrk to continue, Victorian politics intervened and the passing of legislation caused it to be closed in 1924. Beautifully directed by Isaac Drandic, this story was brought to being by research from writers Giordano Nanni and Andrea James. A great cast- Jack Charles, Stewart, Kate Beckett, Kelton Pell, Melodie Reynolds-Diarra. At only 1 hour this is a powerful story particularly because of the personal accounts – you cannot help feeling that had John Green been allowed to continue his work, the lives and work of Aboriginal men and women may have been far more valued and a lasting legacy would have ensued. Belvoir.

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