Big hART’s Namatjira

Wednesday 14 September to Friday 16 September at 8pm. Saturday 17 September at 2pm and 8pm. The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre Info: , Writer and Director: Scott Rankin Cast: Trevor Jamieson, Derik Lynch, Nicole Forsyth, Robert Hannaford, Genevieve Lacey, Kevin Namatjira, Lenie Namatjira, Gloria Pannka, Ivy Pareoultja, Michael Peck, Evert Pleog, Elton Wirri, Hilary Wirri and Kevin Wirri. Set Designer: Genevieve Dugard Composer: Genevieve Lacey Sound Designer: Jim Atkins Creative Producer: Sophia Marinos Associate Producer: Cecily Hardy Costume Designer: Tess Schofield Lighting Designer: Nigel Levings Community Producer: Shannon Huber

Recently performed at the Playhouse of the Canberra Theatre was Big hART’s Creative Director, Scott Rankin’s portrayal of Albert Namatjira, one of Australia’s renown Aboriginal artist, with his efforts to “bring life *to+ Albert Namatjira’s art” in his latest work, Namatjira. In its media statement, he announced that “the Namatjira story is iconic and important, yet is a story that has really only been told in bits and pieces, despite being extremely relevant to all of us.” Co-created with the Namatjira Family, Rankin attempts to embrace the life of Namatjira in the mid 1940s, by capturing the spirit of the outback with Dugard’s (beautifully crafted) giant wooden rock centered on stage, which offset depictions of his family members loitering at the back of the stage “chalk-painting” a communal mural, against the strategic positioning of a couple of “white fellas” in their vain pursuits to engage with the “black kulcha” by using their own artistic talents across the stage. Charming. The central character of the self-titled play was performed by award winning actor, Jamieson, who orated the autobiographical accounts of Namatjira’s life growing up in Central Australia, but if truth be told, it was only a simple Google search away to notice that some of these accounts weren’t entirely accurate (Namatjira died in the hospital), and that some of the narratives were, in fact, plagiarized. That being said, Jamieson performance was superb, outstanding even. Using his enigmatic charm and candid demeanour, he managed to captivate his spellbound audience guiding them on the great artist’s life journey with his lucid narratives as Namatjira himself and as one of the few eclectic collection of Namatjira’s accompanying characters who he slip in and out of - without ever losing their ardent gaze. Lynch, the supporting actor, also marveled the enchanted audiences with his off-the-wall female parodies of the famous and the not so famous members of Namatjira’s life, which he delivered with hilarity and precise comedic timing. As Rankin suggested, “the Namatjira story is iconic and important, yet is a story that has really only been told in bits and pieces, despite being extremely relevant to all of us.” But perhaps, one that also need to be told with honesty and integrity, which not only captures his life as an artist but that his imagination, and his vision for his country.

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