Bindjareb Pinjarra: State’s longest running play to be ‘thrown wide open’ with renewed, diverse ensemble
Western Australia’s longest running play is set for renewal after its original creators decided to “throw the work wide open” with “new blood and diversity”.
A cornerstone of WA theatre, ‘Bindjareb Pinjarra’ was first created in 1994 by Kelton Pell, Geoff Kelso, Phil Thomson and the late Trevor Parfitt.
It tells the story of the horrific Pinjarra massacre of 1834, which remains one of the most notorious attacks on First Nations people in Australian history.
The massacre was carried out by a group of about 25 soldiers, police, and settlers led by Governor James Stirling on October 28, 1834 in Pinjarra.
It was a result of increasing tension between Bindjareb people and non-Indigenous colonisers in the area.
Accounts of the massacre remain hotly contested, with Stirling’s official report stating about 15 Bindjareb men were killed and other accounts estimating up to at least 80 Bindjareb men, women and children were murdered.
Despite its dark subject matter, the play is ticketed as a comedy and uses satire and black humour to mock colonial attitudes and address an historically disputed and complex event.
The play is heavily based on improvisation, which lends itself to Pell, Kelso and Thomson’s desire to develop a new version of the play.
“The three of us surviving original members have been concerned for some years as to how Bindjareb Pinjarra might keep on keeping on into the future as it has never had a script,” Thomson told the Mandurah Coastal Times.
“We made the work in Indigenous ways — no writing — just improv and memory and careful methods to ensure equality amongst the team of two Noongars (Kelton Pell and Trevor Parfitt) and two wetjellas (Geoff Kelso and Phil Thomson).
“We realised that in order to pass on the play to a new generation we needed to carefully teach our methodology as well as the play.”
Thomson said once the trio decided to find a new team, they chose to “throw the work wide open”.
“It’s always been a play for blokes to perform, massacre being men’s business, but now we want to see what ideas might be generated through the gaze and involvement of women,” he said.
To stay true to Australia’s changing population — the 2021 Census found almost a third of Australians were born overseas — Thomson said they saw no reason why the non-Indigenous characters needed to be white and that they would be “embracing diversity as we select the new crew”.
While the play is set to evolve, Thomson said some things will remain the same.
Bindjareb Pinjarra will always be performed by a 50 per cent Noongar cast and the core of the show will remain the same: a simple set and props, improvisation, actors’ personal stories, and “a comedy until towards the end”.
“But with new blood and diversity we can only guess where it will go,” Thomson said. “As always we are experimenting.”
The trio has since set up Baalap Productions as a vehicle for the new ensemble and secured a near $40,000 grant from the State Government’s Arts 15k-plus program.
Baalap Productions recently put the call out for performers to express their interest in renewing the project with its original creators.
“Participants will experience the work and its methodology and experiment with new scenes,” it said in a statement. “A selected group will then be invited to a paid full-day intense workshop from which we will select a new ensemble to develop and perform new versions of the play.”
Baalap said it was after people with “professional experience or training” who “believe our creative future is in First Nations and non-Indigenous people working together”.
The company also warned despite the play being mainly a comedy, it “references massacre and other dark deeds of colonialism”.
“It requires performers with strong mental health and the ability to look after themselves,” it said. “It also depends on a solid collaborative approach, mutual respect and brave improvisation.”
Performers selected by Pell, Kelso and Thomson will receive an invitation to attend workshop auditions in April.
Expressions of interest close on March 13. For more information, contact [email protected].
Denial of responsibility! galaxyconcerns is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.