Following a sell-out season at the 2021 Darwin Festival ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s restaging of Heart is a Wasteland – directed by the company’s multi-award-winning Artistic Director Rachael Maza – brings John Harvey’s humorous and deeply heartfelt script to life.
Showing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Fairfax Studio from 25 – 27 August, the theatre piece coincides with activities celebrating 30 years of ILBIJERRI giving voice to First Nations cultures through the ongoing creation of innovative works by First Nations artists.
Heart is a Wasteland has been reinterpreted by Maza for this upcoming season but still combines storytelling and live music in an uplifting, cross-country love story that takes us through Australia’s heartland, dealing with love, loss, unspoken truths and history.
“I’m incredibly excited to be working on Heart is a Wasteland because it’s one of those stories we never get to see on our stages. I have the privilege to sit in a room with our writer and creative team to come at it with fresh insight and get the work to where it needs to be. I love working with John Harvey too; his rich intelligence for telling a human story really comes lifting out of the script,” said Maza.
Raye (Monica Jasmine Karo, Gunai/Gunditjmara), a country-music star in the making, plays pub-to-pub along Australia’s vast desert highways trying to make a living in the hope of returning home to her son, Elvis. But when she meets Dan (Ari Maza Long, Yidinji/Meriam), another young wanderer at the cross-roads of life, a love affair unfurls over a four-day drive to Alice Springs.
“I wanted to bring this human experience across that we all kind of share but in this uniquely Indigenous voice. I wanted it to also explore our relationships with each other and our relationships to country but how our relationships to country affect our relationships with each other,” said Harvey.
With original music by Lydia Fairhall (Worimi), exquisitely arranged by Gary Watling (Wiradjuri), freshly conceived sets and adventurous audio-visual design, this production brings Australia’s stunning outback right to the front matched by the vitality of its young leads.
“It’s a beautifully poetic piece and it’s in this same style that the music sits right in and is able to propel the emotional journey of our protagonists and allow the world of the play to speak through the music,” said Maza.
Director: Dr Rachael Maza AM (Yidinji/Meriam) | Performers: Ari Maza Long (Yidinji/Meriam), Monica Jasmine Karo (Gunai/Gunditjmara) and Gary Watling (Wiradjuri) | Songwriter: Lydia Fairhall (Worimi) | Musical Director & Arrangements: Gary Watling (Wiradjuri) | Sound Designer: James Henry (Yuwaalaraay/Yorta Yorta) | Production Manager: Glenn Dulihanty | Set and Costume Design: Emily Barrie | Lighting Design: Niklas Pajanti | AV Design: Sean Bacon | Dramaturg: Mark Pritchard | Stage Manager: Olivia Walker | Producer: Alexandra Paige | Writer: John Harvey (Saibai Island)
Heart is a Wasteland
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 25 – 27 August 2022
For more information, visit: www.ilbijerri.com.au for details.
Image: Heart is a Wasteland – photo by Aaron Walker