There’s always something going on here in the nation’s capital, besides politics that is and despite the belief in some circles that it is a soulless place! In fact, it’s so busy here – so packed full of things to do – that my reading has been pretty slow of late. However, I have been active, and thought some of my activities might interest you.
Blog mentoring – and a question for you
In my last Monday musings I mentioned that I’ll be mentoring two ACT Lit-bloggers for the rest of this year. We had our first meeting last weekend, and one of the issues we talked about – and it’s one we’ll continue to talk about – relates to what litblogging actually is. What is the difference, we want to explore, between litblogging, review and criticism? Where are the lines, what are the crossovers? We tossed a few ideas around, including the issue of informality/formality, but there’s a lot more to explore regarding content (and these concepts of review, criticism, analysis) and audience (who reads blogs, what do blog readers look for, and can this audience be widened?)
So now I’m throwing it over to my brains trust – that is, you who read this blog – because you cover a wide range of backgrounds. What say you to these questions? And how (or where) do you think litblogs fit into literary culture?
I mentioned Coranderrk on this blog a couple of years ago. It was an Aboriginal Station in Victoria, established and successfully run by some remaining local indigenous people, and it operated from 1863 to 1924. I came to the story through the Bread and Cheese Club’s activity in the 1950s when they held working bees to repair the cemetery and restore the monument of leader William Barak to its rightful place in the town.
So, when I saw that the play Coranderrk, which was first performed in 2013, was going to be part of his year’s Canberra Theatre Centre season, I bought tickets, and we finally got to see it this week. It tells the story of the community’s attempt to obtain formal control over the land when local farmers started making moves to move them on! They felt the land was too valuable to be run by Aboriginal people (!), and so, as the program says,
the men and women of Coranderrk … went head-to-head with the Aboriginal Protection Board at a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry to be allowed to continue.
The play tells this story primarily using words from sources of the time – mainly evidence and testimony from the Inquiry. The four actors – three men and one woman – each play several indigenous and non-indigenous characters to tell the story of the conflict. It is, really, like a documentary in play form (called, I believe, verbatim theatre), and it could have been very dry. Fortunately, I like documentaries. And anyhow, the writers do manage to inject the words, the story, with a sense of theatre, partly through little recurring motifs, like banter over a hat, and word plays, as well as, of course, the drama of the story itself.
It’s not a happy outcome, as you’d expect for the time, but the program says “The production aims to encourage a shared understanding of the past between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.” It is just one of the many stories that are coming out now about our colonial past and that we Australians need to know if we are to advance as a “real” nation, that is, as one that knows its true history.
Written by Andrea James & Giordand Nanni
Directed by Eva Grace Mullaley
Produced by Ilbijerri Theatre Company & Belvoir
Canberra Theatre Centre, 14-15 June 2017
One of my several post-retirement commitments is involvement in the Friends of the National Film and Sound Archive. Like most Friends organisations we volunteer for our “parent” body, and we organise events. Recently, we ran a bus tour of the suburb of Moncrieff, whose streets are named “to honour Australia’s music history”. We enjoyed driving around the streets, being regaled by local music expert David Kilby with biographies of and entertaining clips from such performers as Johnny O’Keeffe, Jimmy Little, Harold Blair and June Bronhill.
Then, this week, we presented an evening, to a full house, with the wonderfully generous Australian actor John Waters who willingly gave up his time, driving himself to Canberra, to talk about his career in film and, at the same time, promote the importance of preserving Australia’s audiovisual history. The NFSA is “our nation’s album” he said, and “who doesn’t like a family album”. Exactly.
There was more to my week, including my local Jane Austen group’s discussion today of the plethora of biographies about our Jane – but I think I’ll save that for another post. There’s only so much culture you can manage at a time!