REMOTE THOUGHTS – Musings from the Bush
27/03/2023 - 28/03/2023
Written and performed by Anna Shaw
Creative director Robyn Bardas
For four years, Wānaka teacher Anna Shaw lived and taught in Wadeye, a remote indigenous community in the Northern Territory.
Wadeye is located 400 kilometres SE of Darwin near the Kimberley. 3,000 people living at the end of 300km of dirt road.
This solo show explores the complexities of being a whitefella having the privilege of living in a blackfella community. A teacher building relationships with her students and the womenfolk. It’s honest, sad and funny.
Remote Thoughts will be peppered with songs and images. Join Anna on her journey for the premiere season of this piece.
Hāwea Flat Hall
Monday 27 & Tuesday 28 March 2023
Theatre , Music , Solo ,
Strong performance reflects the zeitgeist of an intense and beautiful world
Review by Sue Wards 29th Mar 2023
Wānaka’s Festival of Colour hosted the premiere of a trans-Tasman solo show (which will be staged next in Melbourne) telling the story of a Wānaka teacher’s four years living and teaching in the remote North Territory Aboriginal community of Wadeye.
Remote Thoughts – Musings from the Bush is a love letter to that community which rings with emotional truth.
Anna Shaw has talked about life in Wadeye as “constantly treading a tightrope between hope and despair”. The show opens with a song, where Shaw says she and husband Rick were blind to what they would find as they flew into the eye of a storm.
This is moving, personal story-telling, with Shaw speaking directly to her audience, using just her physical energy, live music, a few visuals and a simple set design. She uses the space and the few props cleverly and her timing is spot on: the narrative neither drags or feels rushed.
The pace of her performance reflects the highs and lows of life in the traumatised and at times volatile community. That rhythm is enhanced by her guitar playing, song, and the use of percussion.
Giddy highs of cultural experience and fleeting academic success are contrasted with moments of despair.
The vignettes are often bleak, sometimes violent, but welcome relief comes with the many laughs – often at Shaw’s expense, and often followed by an emotional punch.
Even if you don’t know Shaw (and many in the Hāwea Flat Hall on Tuesday night did), you get a strong sense of her personality from her 75 minute performance.
Remote Thoughts has premiered just a week after Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese announced plans for a referendum to establish a formal body for indigenous Australians to give advice on law making: an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
Shaw’s play, reflecting the zeitgeist, does not shy away from the fraught politics of Aboriginal Australians. Highlights include her original songs ‘White Mess’, ‘Incarceration Blight of the Nation’, and a Bruce Springsteen riff, ‘Wadeye Policeman’.
The finale to Shaw’s strong performance is a music video, ‘Walk Two Ways’, a joint production by the Shaw family and Wadeye children, which gives the audience a moment to find their tissues and collect themselves before leaving the intense and beautiful world created on the Hāwea Flat stage.
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