Kangaroo Stew plays at QPT to educate audience on native title rights through author’s personal experience

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Kangaroo Stew author Zac James and director Bruce Denny.
Camera IconKangaroo Stew author Zac James and director Bruce Denny. Credit: Jessica Moroney

The play Kangaroo Stew is a story about grief, culture, family and connection to land, and one which author Zac James hopes spreads awareness about native title rights.

The Geraldton public has only one chance to see the Desert Wirla presentation, which is showing at Queens Park Theatre on Saturday night.

The play tells a story from the author’s perspective about his family’s experience growing up battling for Tjiwarl native title rights in the Goldfields.

James said the play was a way to put information to an audience in a palatable way while exploring the meaning of sacred sites to Aboriginal people.

He spent 11 years writing Kangaroo Stew, using his personal experience as an educational tool to make an example for others.

The playwright said people wanted to watch the play because the conversation about native title land rights wasn’t openly discussed by everyone.

“It’s kind of that conversation and also about how much do we as Aboriginal people make concessions and sell land for sustainability,” James said.

“For instance, one of the places which are birthing sites, there are drills near it right now.

“It’s very difficult to comprehend that when you go on your land and you’re trying to take your family there, you go into this place that is really beautiful and there are drills right next to it.

“Aesthetically, water reserves, everything is still being impacted by it.”

The play’s protagonist, David, who isn’t close with the land, is taken back to country to sign papers for exploration on a sacred site which his brother Jack had never left.

The play shows the conversation between the two sides and Jack’s attempt not to sell to sustain the culture and land.

James said the play was about coming to terms with how to deal with the process while hanging on to culture and land in a proactive way.

“We can stand out on the hills and stop diggers from coming, but at the end of the day it is still going to get dug,” he said.

“We might end up with nothing and end up in a worse situation.

“If we were at least listened to and had a seat at the table we can protect what we can to empower the next generation to shift some of the perspectives in the mining sector.”

James said he was privileged to grow up knowing his culture and parts of his language and his inspiration to write Kangaroo Strew came from his pop, who began the fight for the Tjiwarl native title.

“It’s respecting him by sharing this story,” he said.

Tickets sold out for the debut showing at The Blue Room Theatre in Perth last year in April.

People should arrive from 6.30pm on Saturday. Tickets are $35.

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