Directed by Neil Armfield and adapted by Andrew Bovell (When the Rain Stops Falling, Lantana), The Secret River is a story of two families divided by culture and land. William Thornhill arrives in New South Wales a convict from the slums of London. His family’s new home offers him something he hadn’t dare dream of: a place to call his own. On the banks of the Hawkesbury River, he plants a crop and lays claim to the soil in which it grows.
But the Hawkesbury is already home to another family. A family from the Dharug people. A family whose existence depends on that land. As Thornhill’s attachment to the land deepens, he is driven to a terrible decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Grenville’s story confronts the brutality which ensued with this collision of cultures, and the stage adaptation expands the emphasis to the experiences of both the Dharug people and the European settlers. The staging also gives a voice to the land and the river, demonstrating how human stories are uniquely shaped by their environment.
The Secret River depicts a turning point in the development of Australia; a fork in the road with the chosen path resulting in consequences we all live with today.
Winner of six Helpmann Awards, including Best Play, Best Direction and Best New Australian Work, The Secret River was heralded as “a stunning, shattering piece of theatre that goes to the heart of our history” (The Sunday Telegraph).
“Director Neil Armfield, designer Stephen Curtis and composer Iain Grandage translate the rich detail and drama of Kate Grenville’s novel into a moving and substantial work for the stage.” – Sydney Morning Herald
Director: Neil Armfield Featuring: Shaka Cook, Nathaniel Dean, Trevor Jamieson, Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Madeleine Madden Colin Moody, Richard Piper, Bruce Spence, Matthew Sunderland Artistic Associate: Stephen Page Set Designer: Stephen Curtis Costume Designer: Tess Schofield Lighting Designer: Mark Howett Composer: Iain Grandage Sound Designer: Steve Francis
The Secret River
Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performances: 10 – 19 March 2016
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
For more information, visit: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au for details.
Image: Nathaniel Dean in The Secret River – photo by Heidrun Lohr for Sydney Theatre Company, 2013