Thursday, March 22, 2007

Modern day Dreamtime fable

Hamish Chitts

The Mack
Written by Sam Watson
Directed by Ian Brown
Judith Wright Centre for the Performing Arts, Brisbane
Until March 31
For tickets & information phone (07) 3872 9000

An angry, resentful Murri man in a wheelchair, a hate filled policeman dedicated to destroying the Macks, a woman unhinged and a powerful, deadly sorcerer who comes hunting — The Mack is a play like no other.

Set in inner-city Brisbane, this powerful play, written by leading Murri activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson, tells the story of Peacey, who is confined to a wheelchair after a car accident in which his older brother was killed. His father, Bullocky, must place his hand upon the shoulder of the man in the family who will succeed him as the Mack. That man, unquestioned and unchallenged, will be the leader of the family and his community.

Now Bullocky is waiting for Peacey to step up to the mark and claim that mantle that is rightfully his. Time is pressing, he and Nanna must return to the tribal country and “walk the line” to safeguard the sacred sites. But before he can go, Bullocky knows that he must ensure the succession and stabilise his family network.

Peacey, who doubts his ability to lead because of his confinement to a wheelchair, is also feeling tension from the spirit world. The car accident happened after he visited a sacred site with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend Birdie and now a spirit man hunts both Peacey and Birdie. Birdie, who can’t accept her boyfriend’s death and is haunted by the spirit man, has been placed in an institution and it’s up to Peacey to look after her son Corowa. All the while Sergeant Davis is determined to bring the Mack family down and has his hateful gaze fixed firmly on young Corowa. Birdie must come out of the hospital, Corowa must be saved from prison and Peacey must become the man that they all knew he could be.

The Mack’s director Ian Brown believes, “Regardless of the reason you take your seat at this performance, you are engaging in a political act. Watson’s writing is rich with conflict; between traditions and contemporary urban existence; between Indigenous law and a subjugating European law; between tolerance and respect.” Watson says, “The Mack is written as a Murri Dreamtime fable set in the modern day — among bitumen and concrete, rather than red-soil country.”

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