Later this week, The Truth Is... premieres at the Twelfth Night Theatre as part of Clancestry. The play is special to me for several reasons.
Firstly, the process by which this show was created was entirely unique to me. It was the first show I officially wrote in partnership with my wife. This collaboration was born out of necessity. For circumstances outside of everyone's control, a script needed to be written for Digi Youth Arts in just one week. The brief was simple. A play to be performed by young people around urban indigenous identity. I wasn't scared of the compressed time frame. Writing a show in a week with my wife sounded like a pleasant adventure.
I was scared, of course, because I'm white, and the cast and production crew weren't. I was more scared of my whiteness than of anybody's 'blackness'. Any attempt I could make to articulate urban indigenous identity came with oodles of guilt, shame and hesitation. In other words, I was frightened at my ability to write with any sense of conviction, and I knew that a clear and robust script was what these young people deserved. Time didn't leave us with much opportunity to ponder the complicated ethical integrity of this cultural transaction. At the end of the day, with all pre-conceptions aside, I was asked to write a work. That was my job. So I better get on with it.
Of course, meeting and working with the young actors who we'd been writing for was a thrilling experience. The Logan-based youths were smart, articulate, funny and bright. They were very, very easy to write for. I confessed my 'white' hesitation, and that grew into a conversation all of its own. I realised while writing and working with this ensemble that the future is a very bright place indeed. My children are unlikely to suffer the same emotional baggage that comes with the history of our country. This is the blessing of time. History lives on, but emotion fades. The young cast were able to speak on issues of race and identity on a level that I had previously been ignorant of, simply because of my experience and my age. Their ability, within a single breath, to hold past, present and future in their mind's eye was breath-taking. It made a lasting impact on how I view our country.
So Emily and I wrote the script, handed it over, said 'It's all yours, do whatever you want with it...' and stood to one side. This disconnection was because of time constraints on Emily and I, but also because we weren't needed. This project was entirely theirs, and we were only helpers.The first time we'll see or even hear the show will be on opening night. As such, we can really only be considered consultants, or a temporary channel through which this extraordinary group of people could present themselves. I'm looking forward to it immensely.
The Truth Is... premieres at the Twelfth Night Theatre on Thursday night. Tickets can be purchased here.