"Coranderrk" offers no less than the truth. It captures the strength and stamina of a people who stood tall and publicly fought together for the rights of all people. And they almost won! Hearing these words today, from this rare occasion, helps to heal the hurt within, knowing that the same caring for each other still lives on between our families.
-- Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin
Descendant of William Barak and the Coranderrk community
About the book
One of the first sustained campaigns for justice, land rights and self-determination in colonial Australia was undertaken by the Aboriginal people of Coranderrk reserve in central Victoria. Despite having created an award-winning farm they were targeted for removal to make way for white settlement. As skilled communicators and negotiators, they lobbied the government, in alliance with their white supporters, and succeeded in triggering a Parliamentary Inquiry in 1881.
Coranderrk – We Will Show The Country derives from a unique verbatim-theatre performance where professional actors brought to life the witnesses who gave evidence before the 1881 Parliamentary Coranderrk Inquiry. Rescued from dusty archives, and including renowned Wurundjeri leader, William Barak, those witnesses continue to speak to contemporary audiences. Here, their powerful petitioning can be read alongside that of their non-Aboriginal allies, and those who would move them off their land.
The book features a concise and accessible history of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Station and of the events that led to the appointment of the 1881 Parliamentary Coranderrk Inquiry. The book also contains a special edition of the verbatim script which has been annotated and referenced so as to provide a blueprint of how the original minutes of evidence from the 1881 Parliamentary Coranderrk Inquiry were adapted into a theatre script. Each scene of the play has also been introduced with a short biography of each character and a discussion of the key themes raised in their testimony.
Supplementing the verbatim script of the performance, the book includes a range of historical images and stills from the ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s production. Coranderrk – We Will Show The Country celebrates the spirit of collaboration between black and white in pursuit of justice, and offers an engaging way to learn about our past – and to think about our future.
Read excerpts of the book
- Download the Foreword by Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin
- Download an excerpt of the opening chapter: A brief history of Coranderrk
- Doanload a scene from the play: Scene 7: Thomas Bamfield
- Download a scene from the play: Scene 21: John Green
Buy the book
Click here to order a copy from Aboriginal Studies Press.
About the authors
Giordano Nanni is a writer, historian and Senior Research Fellow in the School of Social & Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He conceived the idea of re-staging the 1881 Parliamentary Coranderrk Inquiry using verbatim-theatre and was central to its development as a theatre production through the Minutes of Evidence project, supported by the Australian Research Council. He is also the author of The Colonisation of Time: Ritual, Routine and Resistance in the British Empire (Manchester University Press, 2012).
Andrea James is a Yorta Yorta/Kurnai playwright, director, theatre maker and producer specialising in the development and presentation of Aboriginal Arts and Culture. She was the Artistic Director for Melbourne Workers Theatre (2000-2007) and is best known for her play Yanagai! Yanagai! about the Yorta Yorta struggle for native title rights. An Artistic Associate at Carriageworks in Redfern, Andrea is writing a new play, Winyanboga Yurringa, inspired by Hyllus Maris and Sonia Borg’s iconic Women of the Sun.