The limited run began on Tuesday the 15th of November and culminates in a final performance this Sunday afternoon.
“Jack Charles v The Crown is the culmination of years of frustration and rejection from bureaucracy, both black and white,” said Jack.
The show follows the life story of Jack Charles from the Stolen Generations to Koorie theatre in the 1970s, from film sets to Her Majesty’s prisons, all acted by the consummate storyteller himself. With an unswerving optimism Jack narrates his tale of addiction, crime, prison time and triumphant return to the stage.
The play is in part a response to the 2008 documentary ‘Bastardy’, a confronting portrait of the actor’s struggle with addiction and time spent on the streets of Melbourne. The documentary will air as a pre-cursor to the Saturday evening show.
The limited run is part of the celebrations of Ilbijerri Theatre Company’s 25th anniversary. The company was founded in 1990 and grew out of the Indigenous theatre scene that Jack Charles co-founded with Bob Maza in the 1970s.
“This is a timely, necessary journey we at ILBIJERRI undertake in the national interest,” he said.
‘Jack Charles v the Crown’ has been performed at 31 venues across Australia as well as at London’s Barbican Theatre, the Dublin Theatre Festival and Canada’s National Arts Centre.
Following the Wednesday night show, a panel including Rhoda Roberts, Rachael Maza, Dr Lou Bennett and Edwina Lunn discussed the future of First Nations Performing Arts in Australia.
Lydia Miller, the Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts at the Australia Council for the Arts, who chaired the panel quoted a recent finding in the Showcasing Creativity Report that 92% of Australians see the Indigenous Arts as vitally important to Australian society.
Rachael Maza, the Artistic Director of Ilbijerri Theatre Company and daughter of playwright Bob Maza, told the audience that the Australian and international support for ‘Jack Charles v the Crown’ showed that support for Indigenous creative arts was growing.
“It’s quite extraordinary coming back to this space where it all started in 2010 to be standing on this stage and this incredible, literally, trip around the world that this show has done over this six year time."
"Over that time, we have experienced, as an organisation, an extraordinary growth… for our stories and a growing demand to want to engage in these stories.”
Limited tickets are still available through the Melbourne Arts Centre.