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Historical play leaves its mark

Creek

Johnny Carr as Tom in Charcoal Creek. Picture: HEIDRUN LOHR

THE premiere of the historically based play Charcoal Creek by Merrigong Theatre Company has spawned an industry of collaborative works.

Former Greens federal MP Michael Organ will give a talk on the Illawarra's early history this Saturday, June 9, as part of Merrigong's Talking Points; cultural historian Dr Joseph Davis will lead a tour of Wollongong City Gallery’s colonial works on Saturday, June 16; and Berry artist Jen Saunders will exhibit her Some Time in the Future series to coincide with the play, which runs until June 16.

The play is set in 1875 in the small township of Charcoal Creek, now known as Unanderra. Written by award-winning playwright Marcel Dorney, it recounts one of Australia’s first incidents of white resistance to new migrants and is a moving story about the power of ignorance and fear.

Inspired by this historical footnote, the work examines how a community can descend into prejudice and hatred, and how ordinary people can allow terrible things to happen.

Charcoal Creek draws on the forces of class, Darwinism, and the Industrial Revolution to explore the impact of change and development on the forging of the Australian psyche.

Charcoal Creek is a play about a time and place where this historical movement – the development of what we now know as white Australia – was barely a generation old, and a new wave of immigrants, who didn't necessarily understand what the first wave had gone through had begun to arrive,” said playwright Marcel Dorney.

“The play is about violence and fear, just as it is about love: I don't believe these things can be separated in our stories, any more than the crimes of our culture can from our achievements.”

For more information on the play and associated events, contact 4224 5999 or visit www.merrigong.com.au

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