In Review: Bindjareb Pinjarra

By Eugenia Flynn

  • A review of Ilbijerri Theatre’s latest presentation, The Pinjarra Project and Deckchair Theatre’s Bindjareb Pinjarra

Bindjareb Pinjarra is a comedy that crosses cultural divides to bring humour and mirth to an otherwise shameful part of Australian history, written in the history books as the Battle of Pinjarra.

The show provides a history lesson, turning the history books upside down and exploring the reality of the Battle of Pinjarra as it actually was: a massacre of the Nyoongar people at Pinjarra in 1834.

Rather than guilt-inducing or depressing, Bindjareb Pinjarra deals with the sensitive topic appropriately through improvised comedy and physical theatre. Audiences are invited to interact with the performers, causing them to reflect upon their own knowledge of history and ultimately to provide details that are then used in the performance to great comedic relief. Devised scenes demonstrate the strong collaborative process employed by the cast, with humour equally appealing to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audiences alike.

Beginning with a scene that highlights the perspectives of children who do not see colour, Bindjareb Pinjarra then proceeds to weave a story that journeys from the past to the present and back again. This weaving through time subtly allows audiences to draw connections between past atrocities and how these have lasting effects, evidenced in today’s disadvantage amongst Indigenous communities.

Whilst a strong comedic performance throughout, Bindjareb Pinjarra ends with the cast ‘playing out’ the massacre and raising numerous takes on the haunting question of “why?” To further sensitively deal with the audience, the cast members (who are also the co-writers and co-directors of the work – they work in lateral collaboration) end with a Question and Answer session and further invite audiences to informal conversation in the foyer.

All in all, a strong piece that demonstrates how collaborations that see Indigenous and non-Indigenous collaborators on equal standing can provide a high emotional intelligence to the quality and feel of a work. I highly recommend that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences are quick to book tickets so as not to miss out on the short Melbourne season!

Created and performed by Isaac Drandic, Geoff Kelso, Sam Longley, Frank Nannup, Kelton Pell and Phil Thomson, Bindjareb Pinjarra was originally devised and presented by The Pinjarra Project and Deckchair Theatre back in the early 1990s. The Melbourne season of Bindjareb Pinjarra is Ilbijerri Theatre’s latest effort and the first time Ilbijerri has presented an interstate work.

When:

  • Thursday 14 June, 1pm & 7pm
  • Friday 15 June, 7pm
  • Saturday 16 June, 7pm

Where:

  • Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street, Footscray, Victoria

Tickets:

  • Students $10, Concession $15, Adults $20
  • Book tickets online – www.trybooking.com/BJOA
  • Book tickets by phone – 03 9362 8888
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