[20020038] The Longest Night

The Longest Night

Urban Theatre Projects @ Parks Motor Maintenance Shed

7:30pm, Sun 3 Mar 2002

Score: 1

Short Review: Unforgivable

At the show I attended immediately prior “The Longest Night”, William Yang mentioned that he could see hope in the faces of indigenous children.

However, it was especially tragic to see what skills were being offered to the young indigenous people in the workshop preceding “The Longest Night”. The sexes were segregated: boys had the opportunity to be “B-Boys” or rappers, and girls could be “R&B Girls” (complete with “sultry” R&B Top 40 hip moves), or try their hand at acrobatics (tumbling, et al).

If this blatant Americanisation doesn’t send a shiver down your spine… well, I guess you can’t see the writing on the wall.

America – the place where the black population have been marginalised to such an extent that the major role models available are those of sport stars or music stars. And yet, here we are, inviting a culture of subversive racial subjugation into our country with open arms.

And this was just the precursor to “The Longest Night”. After obtaining a coloured ribbon (to segregate patrons into “tour groups”) and watching the youngsters performed their newly-workshopped talents, we went on a bizarre “tour” around the Parks Community Centre campus, the point of which completely escapes me. We were then treated to the performance proper.

And what a performance it was. Using the tried, tested and true theme of “look how drug and alcohol abuse can ruin your life”, we see Bernie first have her child taken away by a government worker. Then her old druggie mates drop by, and her life (and those of her friends) turns to hell. All this is “acted” out using over-the-top theatrics, creating confusing “action” scenes, backed by a bizarre and contrived selection of music.

Yes, I realise that Peter Sellars had placed an emphasis on the representation of indigenous culture, and the involvement of youth, in his planning of the Festival. And I certainly support the intentions of Urban Theatre Projects – their altruism for their work is certainly commendable. However, to pass this piece off as “art” is really, really hard to take.

(As a sidenote, I noticed previous Festival Director Robyn Archer chose a black ribbon, then wore it almost as an armband. Almost apt, really.)

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