After spending countless hours trawling through an online Stolen Generation database, performer and Noongar man Ian Michael felt compelled to voice the harrowing accounts of trauma, separation and lost culture on stage.
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Ian Michael in HART. Photo: Gabi Briggs
“There were about 60 testimonials from the Stolen Generation Foundation’s website,” he tells InDaily.
“We went through all those videos and testimonials over and over again and took out excerpts.
“We wanted to create a kind of storyline arch; we never wanted it to become a narrative – more chronological than a storyline.”
The end product is HART, a verbatim-theatre work produced by She Said Theatre that tells the stories of four Noongar men spanning three generations.
“It’s this kind of timeline of these men’s lives. I’m the product of what those men went through and the trauma they experienced,” Michael says.
HART will be presented at Tandanya Theatre during the Adelaide Fringe and in Port Augusta as part of the Desert Fringe, following a sell-out season at last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, where it won the SA Tour Ready Award. Michael also won the Melbourne Fringe award for Best Emerging Indigenous Artist.
He is the fourth voice in the play, relaying his own personal story of living with the lasting impacts of the Stolen Generation.
“I felt like it was an important element to put into the show,” he says.
“It really showed that whatever happened back then isn’t finished – it’s still there.
“It’s not really an easy thing to talk about, but it’s things people experience, black and white. They feel like they don’t have an identity, or they don’t fit in somewhere.”