Another year another festival and the fear the offspring will miss something amazing.
A few “would you like to come and sees?” meet with “working” from Eldest and Middle, and flat refusal from Youngest (still digesting last year’s ‘smash the patriarchy!’ naked physical theatre escapade) so a friend and I watch the LA Philharmonic launching the International Festival with magnificent movie music at the footy ground.
Back at the homestead I show off my mobile footage of blissed out seagulls freewheeling to As Time Goes By and clutching the stand roof during the thunderous Star Wars Imperial March.
“Aw what,” says Middle, who gets a kick from classical. “If I’d known it was a full orchestra... What they were playing... And it was at the football... would’ve gone.”
“Yeah, you missed yourselves.”
“Still, bet it was expensive,” he says.
“Come and see a show tomorrow. It’s called The Secret River by Sydney Theatre Company, about Australia and the indigenous people who were custodians of the land and what happened when the Europeans arrived and claimed it. Great reviews, live music. I have a spare ticket.”
“Can’t – working,” he says.
“I’ll come,” says Eldest.
It is brilliant – the performances, staging, music, singing – a shattering story voiced in Dharug and English. By the end we’re stunned into silence, then talk about it all the way home.
“Thank you for taking me to that,” he says.
A few days later we hear Ningali Lawford-Wolf, one of the stars and creators, has died.
“That’s terrible,” says Eldest. “She wasn’t old. She was central, the one who told the story.”
Again we’re silenced, then he says, “So glad we saw that.”
Glad we saw and heard Ningali Lawford-Wolf loud and clear, giving voice to a story that crosses continents and time and speaks of injustice and the need for healing and mutual respect.
As Ningali goes home to rest in the country of her ancestors, The Secret River flows on. See it if you can.