Theatre can be fun, confronting, and challenging – but maybe it’s at its best when it provokes conversations about the sort of society we are and want to be. Flood is about the implicit racial bias that pervades Australian culture and the damage it has done to Aboriginal Australia, not so much through conscious bigotry but through plain ignorance.
A group of privileged but naïve twenty-somethings take a camping trip to outback Australia – a rite of passage – and unknowingly stumble onto a sacred site. It brings them into direct conflict with a local indigenous landholder, beginning a domino effect of personal and group implosion.
For Aaron Lucas, who plays one of the privileged few, there are plenty of real life parallels. Having grown up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, with an independent school education behind him, the play hit very close to home. “The way these people react is quite close to how I’d imagine my friendship group would react,” said Lucas. “We are cast as a group of very close friends and we really are close friends.”
The perennial funding challenges of independent theatre led to a series of yard sales where the cast sold their clothes, DVDs and other items to raise money for the production. This led to unexpected conversations. “People were really interested to talk about the play,” said Lucas. “That’s been personally very exciting, to see people getting as passionate as we are.”
Some other reactions have been more surprising, with people pushing back saying “there is no racial problem” and “we just need to get over it and move on”. “[This denial] is what we are saying is the dangerous thing that we have been doing,” added Lucas.
Chris Issacs’ Flood makes its east coast premiere after a successful season at Perth’s Black Swan Theatre Company. (GW)
Nov 8–19, various performance times. 505 Theatre, 5 Eliza Street, Newtown. $25-$35. Tickets & info: www.old505theatre.com