Performance History & Credits

Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country

Poster for the premiere season of 'Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country'. Click to enlarge.Concept by Giordano Nanni
Adapted by Giordano Nanni and Andrea James

Pilot readings: 13–15 August 2010, La Mama Courthouse Theatre

In late 2009, the Minutes of Evidence project decided to test the concept of re-staging the Coranderrk Inquiry using only verbatim theatre techniques. Giordano Nanni and Andrea James teamed up to produce the first draft of the script in August 2010 during a one week workshop hosted by Liz Jones (La Mama Theatre) which included a cast of nine actors under the direction of Rachael Maza (ILBIJERRI Theatre Company). The workshop culminated in four rehearsed readings being staged at the Courthouse Theatre, where the cast performed in front of a full house each night, including on one occasion a class of pupils from Worawa Aboriginal College (Healesville). Each performance was introduced by Koorie writer and academic Tony Birch, and the final reading was followed by a Q&A with Rachael Maza, Bruce Pascoe, Giordano Nanni and the cast. Funding for the pilot readings was provided by the University of Melbourne and the City of Melbourne with support from La Mama and ILBIJERRI. The pilot readings attracted interest from stakeholders and were instrumental in assembling a successful application for an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant.

Directed by Rachael Maza
Performed by Syd Brisbane, Jack Charles, Jim Daly, Peter Finlay, Greg Fryer, Liz Jones, Tom Long, Kelton Pell and Pauline Whyman
Lighting & production manager: Bronwyn Pringle 

Community engagement readings: 6-7 May 2011 - Melbourne & Coranderrk land

In 201011, with support from the Koorie Heritage Trust, extensive consultations occurred between members of the Minutes of Evidence project and members of the Aboriginal community in Melbourne and Healesville, including Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin and members of the Wurundjeri Land Council. Three more rehearsed readings were held for the benefit of descendants of the Coranderrk community and to garner their feedback. The last two of these were held at a venue located on land which once formed part of the Coranderrk reserve, and were attended by descendants of the Coranderrk residents, as well as descendants of John Green. After almost a century, this historic performance brought together the descendants of the people who founded Coranderrk, on Coranderrk land. Descendants praised the level of consultation and commented that they felt proud of their ancestors depicted in the readings. These performances were presented by ILBIJERRI and La Mama and were funded by the University of Melbourne, the Yarra Ranges Community Health, Yarra Ranges Council, the Eastern Metropolitan Region Indigenous Family Violence Action Group, and Kere-Kere.

Directed by Rachael Maza
Performed by Syd Brisbane, Tony Briggs, Jack Charles, Jim Daly, Peter Finlay, Greg Fryer, Liz Jones, Robert Menzies and Melodie Reynolds
Lighting & production manager: Bronwyn Pringle

Premiere season: 16–27 November 2011, La Mama Courthouse Theatre

The original cast of Coranderrk at the premiere of Coranderrk - La Mama Courthouse Theatre, November 2011. Photo: MoE Project. Click to enlarge.This was the first public ‘season’ of Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country. Funded by the Australian Research Council and partners in the Minutes of Evidence project, the play premiered at the La Mama Courthouse Theatre, with a cast of nine actors under the direction of Isaac Drandic. The entire season was sold out before opening night and attracted highly positive reviews in the media, as well as several radio and newspaper interviews with cast and creatives. A number of Q&A sessions were also held with Isaac Drandic, Giordano Nanni, Erin Birch (Partner Investigator on the MOE project), and the cast. The readings attracted positive community testimonials. For example, several Stolen Generations clients of the Koorie Family History Service commented that attending the performances was a ‘life-changing experience’. Descendants of Coranderrk residents praised the level of Community consultation and commented on feeling proud of ancestors depicted in performance readings. At the conclusion of the season, a percentage of box-office earnings was transferred into the Coranderrk Cemetery Restoration Project fund, administered by descendants of the Coranderrk community, including Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin. Together with future earnings from the performances, these funds will help to maintain and upgrade the Coranderrk cemetery.

Presented by ILBIJERRI Theatre Company in association with the Minutes of Evidence project. Supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC).
Directed by Isaac Drandic
Performed by Syd Brisbane, Jack Charles, Jim Daly, Peter Finlay, Greg Fryer, Liz Jones, Tom Long, Melodie Reynolds and Glenn Shea
Dramaturgy by Rachael Maza
Lighting & production manager: Bronwyn Pringle
Stage manager: Jessica Smithett
Set design by Darryl Cordell
Costume design by Emily Barrie
Audio visual design by Peter Worland
Sound design by Ben Grant 

Season 2: 11–12 February 2012, BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne

Following the highly successful premiere season, the City of Melbourne invited ILBIJERRI and the Minutes of Evidence project to stage Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country at Melbourne’s inaugural Indigenous Arts Festival. Two performances were held on the banks of the Yarra River (Birrarung) at BMW Edge, followed by Q&A sessions moderated by Gunditjmara playwright, scriptwriter and musician Richard Frankland. Both performances received standing ovations.

Directed by Isaac Drandic
Performed by Syd Brisbane, Tony Briggs, Jim Daly, Peter Finlay, Greg Fryer, Liz Jones, Tom Long, Kelton Pell and Melodie Reynolds
Production credits: as above 

Season 3: 28 June–1 July 2012, Playhouse Theatre, Sydney Opera House

In June 2012, thanks to the enthusiasm of Rhoda Roberts, Head of Indigenous Programming at the Sydney Opera House, ILBIJERRI was invited to perform Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country at the Playhouse Theatre – a major milestone in the play’s journey. Four performances took place and a Q&A session was held with the cast, director Isaac Drandic and co-writer Giordano Nanni.

Directed by Isaac Drandic
Performed by Syd Brisbane, Jim Daly, Peter Finlay, Greg Fryer, Liz Jones, Tom Long, Kelton Pell, Melodie Reynolds and Jason Tamiru
Production credits: as above


Pilot readings: 15-16 August 2013: Healesville & Melbourne

In 2013, the Minutes of Evidence project together with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company decided to develop a new version of the play, entitled CORANDERRK, which would be targeted specifically at school audiences. This new development of the play included the following aims:

  • To ensure the play would be engaging for younger audiences
  • To provide more context and background information for audiences not familiar with the broader history of 19th-century Victoria wherein the Coranderrk Inquiry took place.
  • To provide the 'back-story': how Coranderrk came to be established, how the Inquiry came about and what happened after it concluded. 
  • To ensure the show would be affordable to tour, which entailed reducing the cast from 9 to 6 actors
  • To bring the running time of the show to under one hour.  

Following three weeks of workshops with writers Andrea James and Giordano Nanni, and a cast of six actors, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company presented three readings of the new script. Public performance were held at Memorial Hall in Healesville and at Open Stage at The University of Melbourne. Q & As were held at all three performances, specifically designed for educators, teachers and students in the audience.

Directed by Isaac Drandic
Performed by Peta Brady, Greg Fryer, Kirk Page, Steven Phillips, Oscar Redding, Melodie Reynolds-Diarra
Dramaturgy by: John Harvey & Rachael Maza
Design: Ralph Myers

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