Muruwari woman and playwright Jane Harrison’s new work, The Visitors, will premiere in January, 2020. This world premiere play, directed by Moogahlin Artistic Director, Bunuba man Frederick Copperwaite, will transport audiences to the shore of Gadigal land at a pivotal moment in history. As the tall ships drop anchor in 1788, seven senior law men meet. Should these strangers be welcomed, or should they rise as one and resist? Presented by Sydney Festival, Moogahlin Performing Arts and Carriageworks, The Visitors is a powerful, imaginative response to the beginnings of modern Australia.
Famed for her plays Stolen and Rainbow’s End, Muruwari playwright Jane Harrison turns her attention to that pivotal moment when the First Fleet dropped anchor. In The Visitors, seven senior law men, performed by an ensemble cast: John Blair, Damion Hunter, Colin Kinchela, Nathan Leslie, Leroy Parsons, Glenn Shea, Kerri Simpson, meet to decide how to respond. Their decision must be unanimous and will have far-reaching implications for all.
Director and Moogahlin Artistic Director, Frederick Copperwaite says “Moogahlin’s relationship with The Visitors started in 2013 with the first Yellamundie Playwriting Festival, and we’re excited to have Jane back on board. One of the attractions of the the play was that we don’t see this kind of story on stage very often – certainly not in a First Peoples context – it’s a very interesting story, a very unique play, with some very challenging things to say.”
Carriageworks CEO Blair French commented “The former Eveleigh Railway Workshops are located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. Carriageworks has a responsibility to the cultural and social legacy that is embedded within it. The Visitors places this responsibility in sharp focus, and leads into a 2020 program at Carriageworks firmly focused on First Peoples from South-Eastern Australia. The distinct projects presented by Carriageworks in 2020 will span stories of language, place, alternative pasts and utopian futures.”
The action of the play is set in January 1788, where a strange sight greets clan leaders gathered from across the country, on the shores of Gadigal land. Ships of a type which have never seen before have anchored in Sydney Harbour. Where are they from? What do they want? Who and what do they carry? Should they be welcomed – or should they be encouraged to leave?
Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch says, “Jane Harrison has written a play of our time. The foundation of the country is still contentious 230 years after the event. In an era of Sovereignty, Voice and Treaty this World Premiere from Moogahlin helps shape the discussion and the possible ways forward. This is a must see at Sydney Festival 2020.”