What you see here is – and will be – one of my best art moments of 2011. It’s hard to be particularly eloquent about it, because I’m still reeling with heavy complexities, astonishment, sadness and the pain of a properly profound artistic experience, which touches the sides of something you didn’t formerly understand – or even know you would try to understand. A rich, deep experience whose honesty and generosity cracks open whole new landscapes – new planets – of thought.
Big hArt’s Namatjira, directed and written by Scott Rankin. Trevor Jamieson in the title role is an absolute marvel; his liquidity, meta-theatrical storytelling and heartfelt intelligence aroused a relationship with the audience that I have not seen… hardly ever. Trevor created such a profound shared space that when the lights came up, people actually swarmed the stage. I couldn’t help but take a picture – why did they do that? For all the showing-off and carrying-on I hear about attempts to ‘break boundaries between audience and artist’… how did this production create a situation whereby people were so comfortable, so confident, so drawn in by Trevor’s performance, Scott’s beautiful words and the sheer massive cliffs of joy and pain bound up in Albert’s story, aching metaphor that it is, that they had to get closer? People walked onto the stage yes, to get closer to the evocative drawings that had been completed during the show by descendents Hilary Wirri and Lenie Namatjira; and yes, to see the instruments Genevieve Lacey had so elegantly played. But mostly they swarmed the stage for the same reason crowds want to run onto the MCG at half-time; to be inside that space where something vital has occurred.
Ugh. It’s the type of generosity I keep thinking about but didn’t know I would actually find: essential, noble, political and difficult, as its selflessness also requires a type of loss.
Man. What a night.
The show is on tour around Australia right now.