Remaining a vital masterwork 20 years after it was penned by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, The 7 Stages of Grieving is a wise and powerful play about the grief of Aboriginal people and the hope of reconciliation.
In this one-woman show, Chenoa Deemal (Queensland Theatre’s Mother Courage and Her Children) spins poignant stories of different people from different mobs – where tear-streaked tales of tragedy go hand-in-hand with jubilant celebrations of simple survival.
Deemal said the production is based around seven different aspects of grief, telling seven different tales; encompassing family funerals, black displacement, the impact of European wars and other stories.
Raised on Queensland’s Cape Flattery Silica Mines, located on the east coast of Australia’s Cape York Peninsula, the 32-year-old said at the end of every year the school kids would put on a concert for the miners and local families.
“Every year I would be involved in the concert and it was really what sparked my love of performing,” she said.
“It’s a very remote place but it was a safe and friendly environment to grow up in, so nerves never really got the best of me. I was quite comfortable performing.”
It opens a dialogue about the issues that separate and unite Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
The design elements of the play are based on the environment of Deemal’s youth: the rainbow coloured sands, the tropical rainforest, and the artworks of the local people.
“It’s politically relevant and shares true and personal stories that need to keep being told,” she said. “It’s also hilariously funny, so it’s a well balanced show.
“Most importantly, it opens a dialogue about the issues that separate and unite Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”
Deemal said she doesn’t think there’s one Aboriginal person who hasn’t been affected by the Stolen Generation.
“Most of our population have some kind of connection to the Stolen Generation,” she said. “But grief is a universal expression. Everyone can relate to it.”
- 7.30pm on June 16; 2pm and 7.30pm on June 17. The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, 597 High Street, Penrith. Tickets: $50-$55. Bookings: 4723 7600 or thejoan.com.au