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2012 Event Media Release - Coranderrk




28 JUNE – 1 JULY 2012

With: Syd Brisbane, Jim Daly, Peter Finlay, Greg Fryer, Liz Jones, Tom Long, Kelton Pell, Melodie Reynolds

Director: Isaac Drandic

Concept: Giordano Nanni

Dramaturg: Rachael Maza

Sydney Opera House and ILBIJERRI Theatre Company will present CORANDERRK: We Will Show the Country  and a series of accompanying debates and discussions from 28 June – 1 July.

VICTORIA, 1881: the men and women of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve take on the Board for the Protection of Aborigines in a fight for justice, dignity and self-determination. Following a sustained protest campaign against the Board’s attempts to disband the station, the people of Coranderrk succeed in pressuring the Government to hold an Inquiry that will decide upon the future of the station and its inhabitants. As the evidence is heard and placed on the record, the truth emerges.

130 years later, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company brings the life Coranderrk’s voices — both black and white — through a theatrical re-enactment of their official testimonies before the 1881 Coranderrk Inquiry. Consisting entirely of extracts from the Minutes of Evidence of the Inquiry, CORANDERRK: We Will Show the Country unites the power of oral history and the authority of the written-word to forge a personal connection with the voices of the past; allowing key figures such as William Barak and several of the men and women of Coranderrk — as well as their allies and opponents in the white community — to speak directly to a contemporary audience.

Not a story of “black vs white”, CORANDERRK pays tribute to the resilience and adaptability of a people who rose to the challenge despite all odds, appropriating the power of the written word and white political discourse to make their voice loud and clear; whilst also celebrating the spirit of friendship, and the power of genuine collaboration, between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

CORANDERRK lies at the heart of the Minutes of Evidence Project, a groundbreaking collaboration between leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, researchers, education experts and Community members, which aims to encourage a shared understanding of Australia's past and promote new modes of publicly engaging with historical and structural injustice. Supported by the Australian Research Council, The Minutes of Evidence Project is a partnership between ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, La Mama Theatre, The University of Melbourne, The Koorie Heritage Trust, VicHealth’s Arts About Us program, The Department of Education, Arts Victoria, Regional Arts Victoria, The State Library of Victoria and VAEAI.

ILBIJERRI is the longest running Indigenous Theatre Company in Australia. In 1990 a group of Melbourne Indigenous artists and community members came together to form a professional theatre company for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Victoria. Ilbijerri celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012 and entered an immensely exciting new era of Indigenous theatre.

Isaac Drandic is Noongar/Croatian and grew up in Western Australia. He has worked in theatre as an actor for over ten years, training at WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) and collaborating with renowned companies across the country.  Isaac has recently been appointed Associate Director of Ilbijerri Theatre Company.

Giordano Nanni straddles the worlds of academic and creative writing. Having grown up in Italy, he moved to Melbourne in 2002 to complete a PhD in History at Melbourne University, which led to his work on the theatrical adaptation of the 1881 Coranderrk Inquiry, and to his first book, 'The Colonisation of Time' (Manchester University Press, 2012). Giordano also co-writes and produces the popular online show, TheJuiceMedia Rap News.

Tom Long’s film credits include The Dish, Two Hands, Doing Time Patsy Cline, Risk, Strange Planet, The Book of Revelation along with television credits Seachange, Young Lions and East of Everything. His theatre credits include The Spook (Belvoir St), Hinderland (Melbourne Theatre Company) and The Tempest (Bell Shakespeare). He has received three AFI nominations for Best Actor.

Kelton Pell has an illustrious theatre career spanning over 20 years performing all around Australia. Theatre highlights include Bloodland (STC), the Jandamarra tour with Bunuba Film Productions, and Black Swan Theatre Company’s Bindjareb Pinjarra, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Screen credits include Mad Bastards, Aunty Maggie and the Womba Wagkun, The Last Ride, and Bran Nue Dae, and on the small screen; Cloudstreet, The Circuit and Bush Patrol.

Syd Brisbane has been with Coranderrk since the first reading, for which he feels honoured to be a part of. He first worked with ILBIJERRI on the inaugural Victorian Indigenous Playwrights Conference in 2001. He has appeared in many shows with The Australian Shakespeare Company. Films include Boxing Day & Silent Partner. He will be seen this year in Beaconsfield for Channel 9 & Conspiracy 365 for The Movie Channel.

Thursday 28 June – Sunday 1 July
Times: Thurs – Sat 8.15pm; Sun 5pm
Venue: Playhouse
Tickets: $25 / Insiders $20
Bookings: (02) 9250 7777 or


Accompanying this powerful production, on Saturday 30 June Sydney Opera House will host a series of debates and discussions.

Date: Saturday 30 June 
Venue: Playhouse 
Tickets: FREE

1.30pm  Aboriginal Art: It’s a white thing
Richard Bell, Vernon Ah Kee, Ian Mclean, Rex Butler
Richard Bell and Vernon Ah Kee are two extraordinary artists whose work questions everything we know about ‘Aboriginal Art’ and brings art and politics crashing together. Black artists in white Australia, their work in a variety of media is confrontational, beautiful and full of biting humour. Fiery and uncompromising, they will be joined in this conversation about art, politics and racism by two leading critics who have written extensively about Aboriginal art, Ian McLean and Rex Butler.

3.30pm Write the truth, or shut up 
Djon Mundine OAM 
Curator, activist, writer, and occasional artist Djon Mundine will deliver the keynote speech examining Arthur Koestler’s premise that “One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up.” If Aboriginal art is art made by Aboriginals we have to ask difficult questions like who are Aboriginals and what is the relevance of their art to Aboriginal societies? What makes good Aboriginal art and what is bad Aboriginal art? Is Aboriginal art still a social act?

9.30pm  Coranderrk post show Q&A 
After that evening’s performance of CORANDERRK, Rhoda Roberts, Head of Indigenous Programming at Sydney Opera House will chair a Q&A session with the cast and creative team.


MEDIA CONTACT: Jane Davis, Publicist – Performing Arts
02 9250 7440 / 


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