Tag Archives: Alana Valentine

BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS:SUPERLATIVES FAIL

 

Elaine Crombie and Ursula Yovich           Production Images: Brett Boardman

So … I went a few years ago to visit my friend who lives alternatively  in the bush.  Her life is subsistent but she makes a bit of cash as a feral pig hunter.  She is surrounded by dogs of all kinds.  Many of them scarred and scary.  Her advice to me, should I ever need it.  If there is a pack of dogs causing trouble, in the middle there will be a little one who is meanest, fiercest and smartest.  That one started the fight. This brings me to Barbara of BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS.

This play is written with that kind of gritty truthfulness.  Lived experience and unspoken lives collide in an explosive whipcrack over the heads of those who wonder and those who know. Continue reading BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS:SUPERLATIVES FAIL

BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS: BELVOIR AND PUB ROCK

 

Ursula Yovich co-writer with Alana Valentine of BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS

Belvoir is bringing rock ‘n’ roll back to Surry Hills this December with the powerful new Australian work, BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS. It’s co-written by Alana Valentine (PARRAMATTA GIRLS) and Ursula Yovich (THE SAPPHIRES), directed by Leticia Caceres (THE DROVER’S WIFE), and features stunning new songs.

The extraordinary Ursula Yovich plays Barbara, a gutsy front woman burnt out by the Sydney music scene. When the feisty Barbara heads back to country with her sister René, she is forced to face the past she’s been running from her whole life.

Ursula Yovich isn’t just a gifted actor and writer, Continue reading BARBARA AND THE CAMP DOGS: BELVOIR AND PUB ROCK

The Fox and the Freedom Fighters

The Fox- Second Image

It is rare that one gets the story of a great man told through the eyes of his family. This is currently happening at the Carriageworks.

THE FOX AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS  is  the story of Charles ‘Chicka’ Dixon – one of Australia’s foremost Aboriginal activists – told from the unique perspective of his daughter, Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor, and granddaughter, Nadeena Dixon, with then help of playwright Alana Valentine. Continue reading The Fox and the Freedom Fighters

PATYEGARANG

Thomas Greenfield and Leonard Mickelo in PATYEGARANG. Pic Jess Bialek
Thomas Greenfield and Leonard Mickelo in PATYEGARANG. Pic Jess Biale

The Bangarra Dance Company’s new production brings to light the story of Patyegarang, a remarkable young indigenous woman,

When the colonial fleet first arrived in Eora country in the late 18th Century, Patyegrarang, a young indigenous woman, befriended Lieutenant William Dawes, gifting him her language in an incredible display of trust and friendship.

The Company, under Artistic Director Stephen Page, have fashioned this latest work from various archival records including diaries maintained by Lt Dawes that were rediscovered in 1972. Dawes, an astronomer, mathematician and linguist by profession, recorded all his encounters with Patyegarang in his notebooks.

Continue reading PATYEGARANG

PARRAMATTA GIRLS

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This extraordinary, disturbing and challenging play storms defiantly onto the small stage of the Lennox at Parramatta. This play received its premiere production back at the inner city Belvoir theatre in 2007.

Playwright Alana Valentine has skillfully woven together true stories of women who were former inmates of the notorious Parramatta Girls Detention Centre.

Under the exceptional direction of Tanya Goldberg, and starring a galaxy of fabulous Australian actresses, this vibrant, confronting and sometimes quite witty and funny play enthralls and challenges whilst play exploring the defiance, endurance and psychological legacy of being labelled a ‘Home girl’.In Valentine’s play, eight former inmates return to the notorious Parramatta Girls Detention Centre for a reunion forty years after it was shut down. For the lucky few it’s a way to find healing, for others it’s a way to dispel the ghosts, for all of them it is a way to share the pain.

Tobhiyah Stone Feller‘s set is extremely effective, minimalist ‘Institution’- grey concrete rubble with smashed windows , heavy doors with rusty locks , cold, dangerous wire and the atmosphere of Jane Eyre’s Lowood.

The staging is also rather minimalistic, with a few tables /chairs/buckets as required which allows for the fluid ,cinematic scene and time shifts.Verity Hampson’s lighting is very atmospheric and effective with a wonderful use of shadows.

We discover both the physical and emotional/psychological scars that are at first glance hidden. Valentine’s play features some very powerful monologues and also includes story telling and songs. It is a tribute to the mischief and humour in the face of hardship suffered by countless girls, forgotten Australians who were victims of this harsh juvenile detention centre.

We hear some of the stories of abuse and neglect of the girls by the State and at the hands of the people officially appointed to look after them. There are nightmarish ‘play’ scenes where the inmates act out sentencing, pretend to be the Matron and the notorious ‘Doctor Fingers’.

We learn of the exhausting scrubbing punishment,the isolation cells and the semi-mythical ‘dungeons’. There is a coverall dingy grey uniform they wear when ‘inside’.  It is an analysis of their struggle to survive and beat the system – if they can. Harsh, streetwise girls are mixed with naive far more innocent ones who do not understand ‘the system’ and haven’t a hope of survival. On this return visit , some crack and dissolve in tears , can’t face going back,some snap and scream ‘let me out’ ,– yet the door this time can be opened any time they wish.

The girl’s babies – if they had them – were removed at birth and placed for adoption. We learn about desperate attempts at abortion and other attempts to get into sick bay, to escape even temporarily…

We have Judi’s (delightfully played by Annie Byron) opening monologue about billycarting and her being self conscious about her bleeding elbows and the harsh treatment she received. (At one point the rest of the women wear elbow bandages in solidarity).

Christine Anu is excellent as feisty Coral,who has a delightful monologue about a group bus trip to Kings Cross among other things. Later it is revealed that she is illiterate and the case workers have badly written up her reports.We see Coral become one of the leaders of the riots for better conditions , an act that most unusually unites all the women in protest.

There’s Lynette’s (wonderful Vanessa Downing )’s mantra of self worth – she is NOT a ‘waste of space’.

A haunting, delicate performance was terrifically given by Holly Austin as ghostly, tragic Maree. In one very sad scene she is forced to rip the arm off her beloved teddy bear, becoming one who falls through the cracks in the system until it is too late.

Hard, streetwise and brash ‘bad girl’ Melanie is given a tremendous performance by Anni Finsterer. We learn that outside she becomes a mother with fierce love for her children.

Sharni McDermott and Tessa Rose as Kerry and Marlene enable us to follow the plight of the many indigenous girls who were inmates ,the racism in the system and how badly they were treated too.

Sandy Gore as Gayle gives a great performance , ending the play on an ironically rather hopeful note with her monologue about all the charity money she raised and winning a motherhood competition.

A shattering, disturbing play with a glorious cast that is highly recommended. There is a fascinating display as the audience enters about the history of the Institution and a wonderful eerily atmospheric exhibition by Heidrun Lohr.

Running time 2 hours 20 mins (approx) including one interval. PARRAMATTA GIRLS is playing at the Lennox at the Riverside Theatres until the 17th May.