by Emily Elise
Storylines Festival – 31st July 2012
The Storylines Festival’s aim is to showcase the stories of Sydney’s Malaysian, Islamic, Indigenous and African refugee communities through theatre, art, dance, music and public forums. Opening night featured two of the three plays by successful playwright Justin Fleming; A Land Beyond the River and Junction.
A Land Beyond the River is rehearsal for a play within a play, based on interviews with three young African Refugees and their journey to Australia interwoven with scenes from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. With themes such as colour blind casting, patriotism and racial discrimination, it brings up issues that few theatre makers dare to go near. Watching the To Kill a Mockingbird scene play out presents a message without being preachy or condescending, and is given a context in the previous scene that allows the audience to see it in a whole different light. The young cast are a tight ensemble, each bringing distinctive skills to the piece and an enthusiasm that keeps the piece alive.
Junction is set in “no man’s land”, at a long abandoned railway station where two young travellers have decided to spend the night. As darkness falls, strange things begin to happen and choices must be made. The performances of the two actors were beautifully composed, Stacey Duckworth is quick witted and natural, while Guy Simon displays a caring nature in his character despite his cheeky comebacks and comic relief after a build up of tension. Justin Fleming must be given credit for a cleverly composed script that keeps your attention on every single word that is uttered and an intriguing storyline that leaves you wanting more.
Storylines Festival has its heart in the right place and matched it with performances that won’t disappoint. Make sure you get there early to check out the Voices and Visions Art Exhibition and some pre show entertainment of live music and ‘The Saints’ contemporary dance team.
For more information, visit http://www.nida.edu.au/Whats-On-Production-10-page/default.aspx