2. History of the Drama

The genesis of the play

In 1991 the Committee of Management of Ilbijerri 1) decided to start a play concerning the "Lost Generations", nota bene six years before the inquiry into the Lost Generations. In the following year funding became available from the Lance Reichstein Foundation 2) and enabled Ilbijerri to contract Antoinette Braybrook 3) as a researcher and Jane Harrison as a writer. The same year the members of the Committee of Management worked with the researcher, the writer, and dramaturg Fiona McHugh to develop the play.

Jane Harrison writes about these first steps: "In 1992, when the project was begun, there was very little knowledge or understanding of the plight of the Stolen Generations outside the indigenous community itself. Despite my Aboriginal heritage, I knew nothing about it and found my new knowledge often difficult to deal with emotionally. What always impressed me though was a lack of bitterness on the part of the survivors of these policies and I have tried to mirror that attitude in the play. Stolen is not about blame, it is about understanding and acceptance." 4)

The next year, four public readings of The Lost Children, a prototype of the drama, were organized at the Fringe Festival in Melbourne, and a three-week-workshop followed. The experiences were documented by the playwright: "After the reading a number of indigenous people told us that they strongly identified with a particular scene - many were in tears at seeing their lives revisited in dramatic form. We knew then that we were on the right track, but we didn't know how long and winding the road would be before the play could reach full production." 5)

As the community had found out that the children who were taken were "stolen" not "lost" the play was renamed Stolen. In 1996 a three week script development project was performed and in March 1997 Stolen was presented as part of an indigenous Theatre.




Short Stories Model Interpretations


Jane Harrison , Stolen


Finally the play was premièred at the Playbox Theatre 6), as part of the Melbourne International Festival of 1998.


1) Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative in Victoria - 2) The Lance Reichstein Foundation is a philanthropic foundation that funds projects which effect structural change to improve, maintain or restore human rights and social justice. - 3) As a young Koori woman Antoinette Braybrook qualified for admission to practice as a lawyer. She was the first Koori Judges Associate in Victoria. - 4) from URL: http://www.ilbijerri.org.au/page3.htm . Printed by kind permission of Jane Harrison. - 5) Ibid. - 6) Playbox Theatre is a company founded in 1976. It is dedicated to the creation, interpretation and promotion of theatre that reflects Australia's cultural diversity.

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