The Age of Bones (Jaman Belulang)

La Mama The Age of Bones Asia TOPAA stunning Indonesian-Australian co-production set deep beneath the sea from award-winning playwright Sandra Thibodeaux, The Age of Bones (Jaman Belulang) will be presented at La Mama Courthouse from 22 February 2017, before embarking on a national tour.

It follows the fantastical story of an Indonesian boy, Ikan who goes fishing one day and fails to return home. Assuming the worst, his parents hire a legendary seafarer to look for his corpse. He finds nothing. The Age of Bones traces what happened to Ikan – from the day he left to his eventual imprisonment in Australia and his fight to return home.

Darwin writer Sandra Thibodeaux was inspired by the real-life stories of around 60 underage Indonesian boys who were jailed in Australia for working on refugee boats. Falsely identified as adults, many spent up to two-years in jail. A bilingual production in English and Indonesian, The Age of Bones is mostly set under the ocean in an underwater court, realised through Indonesian shadow puppetry, music and digital projection.

“I wanted to look at the terrible injustice these boys suffered in a way that was a bit magical,” said Thibodeaux. “I took all the Australian scenes literally down under, beneath the ocean. The lawyer became a White Pointer; the judge an octopus …  I also wanted to explore this sad episode in Australian history from an Indonesian perspective – what it meant to the boys and their families.”

Presented by La Mama as part of Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts, this timely and darkly funny production shines a light on a controversial chapter in Australia’s recent history in a Performing Lines, Teater Satu, and Satu Bulan Theatre co-production.

Sandra Thibodeaux is a playwright and poet. She has written over a dozen plays that have been staged as part of festivals and broadcast on Radio National. Her latest plays include The Lion Tamer (winner of the 2012 Darwin Festival Script Award) and Mr Takahashi (and other falling secrets) (short-listed for the Patrick White Playwright’s Award).

Since 2003, Sandra has worked with Indonesian writers and artists on literary and theatrical projects, including: Katakan Padaku (Ubud); Diburu Waktu (Darwin Festival); and TERRA (a bilingual literary anthology). The Age of Bones (Jaman Belulang) was recently shortlisted for the Griffin Award.

Co-directors: Alex Galeazzi and Iswadi Pratama Featuring: Kadek Hobman, Ella Watson-Russell, Imam Setia Hagi, Budi Laksana, Gandi Maulana, Imas Sobariah, Deri Efwanto Translation: Kadek Krishna Adidharma Sound Design: Panos Couros Costume Design: Imas Sobariah Puppetry: Wayan Sira and Made Gunanta Digital Design: Mic Gruchy

The Age of Bones (Jaman Belulang)
La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Season: 22 February – 5 March 2017

Following the Melbourne season, The Ages of Bones will be presented in Canberra (8 – 11 March), Sydney (15 – 18 March), Parramatta (22 – 25 March), and Darwin (30 March – 9 April). For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Age of Bones (Jaman Belulang)