A stage and screen response

Walkabout is a parable of black and white relations, a work of beauty and misunderstanding, a Romeo and Juliet story of innocence lost, an ode to our sense of identity and place within the Australian landscape.

Nicholas Roeg’s film Walkabout of the 1970’s holds an iconic position in Australia’s culture and was one of the first Australian films to deal explicitly with intimacy between Black and White. Through a re-telling and analysis of Roeg’s work, Richard J Frankland examines the legacy of theatrical and cinematic representations of Indigenous Australians by white film-makers and others.

In the original motion picture, the hero of the piece, a young Aboriginal rescues two white urban children abandoned by their father in the desert. The youth commits suicide after his ceremonial bid for marriage is rejected.

As a symbol of the unknowable ‘noble savage’, Frankland’s Walkabout sets about to redress European romanticism and the silencing of the Indigenous voice. What becomes clear is not only the tragic chasm between two cultures but also the fundamental and on-going nature of this misunderstanding, serving as a paradigm of contemporary black/white relations in Australia

This production of Walkabout offers the opportunity for a unique presentation of multiple art forms, fusing video, film, music and performance. The stage is set as an abstracted film studio where film cameras operate on stage in real time, with live video mixing in performance. Rushes from the original film and documentary footage combined with interviews of film performers and insights from prominent Indigenous commentators. On stage, six musicians are involved in musical accompaniment to song, as well as stage and screen action.

This Walkabout has been many years in the making, with a workshop presentation performed for the ‘Behind the Scenes’ series as part of the 2003 Melbourne festival. The involvement of ACMI’s state of the art cinema complex is an exciting union of enterprises committed to the presentation of important new and envelope-pushing works.

Presented by Chamber Made Opera in association with Australian Centre For the Moving Image.