Cross section of nation in Norpa's Australia Day performance

NORPA presented actor, writer and director Jonathan Biggins' play Australia Day to a packed crowd last Tuesday and Wednesday night at City Hall.

Jonathan showed it all, more than an apple to anyone's eye to bite and savour the flavour of rural Australia. He put the mirror up for all to see us as a multi-cultural conservative nation that is changing. And that change causes conflict, satire, cynicism, humour and the raw acid of deep feelings of hurt and humiliation.

There was real ..........'en swearing as we all entered into our ..........'n duty and ..........'n responsibility to serve on a ..........'en country committee. Victorians are so Victorian aren't they as they have a picture of the Queen on the wall in all their halls?

A Committee that began in the state's freezing winter of despair, more than mentioning state politics in July, to come out on a sunny January 26 in a conglomerate mess.

That was when the vomiting started from the snags eaten that weren't frozen and gave everyone food poisoning, the senior citizens, the girl guides and scouts all had to go to sickbay.
Meanwhile, any Australia Day committee from a new Australian's point of view could be Greek to them, if they were Greek, but it was Greek designer Alex Issigonis who said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

The Australia Day Committee of six on stage contained Robyn Arthur and she was not restrained as the outspoken spokesperson for the CWA, Geoff Kelso the sly mayor of a small country town of Coriole, Liberal, as he owned a hardware store and did not want Bunnings to come to town and he tried to convince another councillor in a secret meeting, the jovial David James to shift his vote the mayor's way.

There was devoted Green activist Sharon Davis who was very much in the mold of Sarah Hansen-Young. Sharon found out about the secret conversation, but the serious protagonist was Dennis Coard; the staunch, solid-as-teak, right-wing redneck who said a spade was a spade.

From that mixture the heat went up and the pot was stirred, as there was a late contender, newcomer Asian Ken Moraleda and then light-hearted racism came in through the side door that Asia now has an Influence on our way of life.

The pace was slick with fast-paced lines slipping along like oil on water with the issues of boat-people, refugees, climate change and trees, and each of the lives on stage depended on how well they could organise an Australia Day event, besides dealing with personal issues of what it was like to cope with a child with cerebral palsy in the days of PM John Howard.

There were many mentions of the great leader and his threat to attend the Australia Day meeting when the Committee was not cash strapped to give him comfortable accommodation.

Writer Jonathan Biggins presented the modern rural Australia in a changing culture and gone was the Aussie Ocker strine of the 1960s and the '70s of They're a Weird Mob and the influx of the Greek wogs and the ities, Italians. We have moved on. We, of white Anglo Australia, in dealing with South-East Asia and the environment in this lucky country are so un-Australian that we are fair-dinkum Australian and the bigoted among us have an excuse for being that way.

* Len Heggarty is a Banora Point-based journalist.


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