“When you take people back to their childhood and ask the questions that they are not really expecting, you get something new,” he says. “These people who are challengers and agitative thinkers, in almost all of their cases that derives from early experiences as a child.”
In the case of Deng Thiak Adut, Macdonald explores the former child soldier’s first memories of Australia, including a mishap of trying to warm a can of Coca-Cola in a microwave, and the feelings of homesickness that made him want to return back to South Sudan.
It’s a Long Story was overseen by Danielle Harvey, the Opera House’s Head of Contemporary Performance. “Podcasting is a burgeoning art form and that’s what we’re about, exploring new art forms,” Harvey says. “It’s a way to share with a global audience the amazing talent that visits us here at the Opera House.”
Although it’s the Opera House’s first made-for-podcast series, it’s not the only content from the Opera House that’s available on podcast. Since early 2014 recordings of the Talks & Ideas program have been available for download. Episodes include talks by Rosie Batty, Carrie Brownstein, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Ira Glass. With more than 410,000 downloads, Ideas at the House is one of the most successful podcasts in Australia.
In July 2016, Deadly Voices from the House was launched as a podcast after over 20 years as a syndicated radio show on the National Indigenous Radio Service and the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. Hosted by the Sydney Opera House’s Head of First Nations Programming, Rhoda Roberts AO, Deadly Voices from the House features a diverse selection of prominent Indigenous leaders from the music, arts and culture sector. This year it has featured interviews with Adam Goodes, Linda Burney and Danielle Ireland-Pipe.
New episodes of It’s a Long Story will be released fortnightly. Asked for a stand-out moment, Macdonald referred to the upcoming interview with Adut.
“Deng was especially brilliant and fascinating,” he says. “His life trajectory is almost unbelievable. Listening to him sing songs from before he became a child soldier was quite special.”