Ensemble Theatre

Black Cockatoo

Written by Geoffrey Atherden
Directed by Wesley Enoch


A new Australian play inspired by the true story of legendary First Nations cricketer Johnny Mullagh and Australia’s first ever international sporting team. But this is not just about cricket, this is a compelling story of strength, resistance, hope and possibility directed by Wesley Enoch and featuring a stellar cast.

''A sincere and tender proclamation, paying tribute to Indigenous identities past and present"


Over 150 years ago, 13 brave Aboriginal men in Western Victoria picked up their cricket bats and embarked on a treacherous voyage to England and into the unknown – all in the name of sport. Risking illness and persecution, Australia’s first international cricket team – including Australia's first Indigenous sporting hero, Johnny Mullagh – amazed the English crowds with astonishing talent, personality and grit. They should have returned to Australia as celebrated heroes. Instead they came back to find the world they once knew was no longer there.

This is not just a story about cricket – this is a story of strength, resistance, hope and possibility. When a group of young present-day activists sneaks into the Wimmera Discovery Centre to expose the truth of what happened to Johnny and his team mates, a hidden legend of triumph and tragedy unfolds. Funny and incredibly moving, Black Cockatoo is a collaboration between iconic Australian writer Geoffrey Atherden (Mother and Son, Babakiujera) and Sydney Festival Artistic Director Wesley Enoch (Black Diggers).


FROM THE DIRECTOR

Australian Cricket is full of characters and stories. Few would know about the first-ever Australian team to tour to England; that it was made up of 13 Aboriginal cricketers from Western Victoria, that one player died and was buried in London or that Johnny Mullagh was our first Australian sporting hero. Telling neglected stories is what theatre does well.

The decision to have an all-Indigenous cast, where the actors play all roles including white English characters, is a way of owning the whole story and providing a commentary on race politics. Actors switch seamlessly from actors today, Aboriginal characters in 2018, and a range of characters in 1868. Time and place are fluid as we connect the past, present, and future to tell this story.

Wesley Enoch


REVIEWS

"This amazing Australian story rings with authenticity, humour and quirky compassion" 
★★★★ Stage Noise

"A vibrant, fascinating and challenging production"
★★★★ Artshub

"Commendably and sensitively asks difficult questions... entertaining and informative" 
Audrey Journal

"Ripe with emotion, wit, and reflection"
★★★★ State of the Art

"A wonderful balance of educating and entertaining... hard hitting honesty and delightful comedy" 
Broadway World


TOURING IN 2022

Theatre Royal Hobart, TAS | Land of the Muwinina people
10 + 11 March | BOOK

Frankston Arts Centre, VIC | Land of the Bunurong people
15 March | BOOK

Clocktower Centre Moonee Ponds, VIC | Land of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people
17 March | BOOK

Bunjl Place Narre Warren, VIC | Land of the Bunurong Boon Wurrung & Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples
19 March | BOOK

Geelong Arts Centre, VIC | Land of the Wathaurong (Wadawarrung) people
22,23,24,25 & 26 March | BOOK

Ulumbarra Theatre, VIC | Land of the Dja Dja Wurrung and the Taungurung peoples
29 March | BOOK

Horsham Town Hall Theatre, VIC  | Land of the Wotjobaluk, Jupagalk, Jaadwa and Jadawadjali people
31 March | BOOK

Johnny Mullagh Reserve Harrow, VIC | Land of the Wotjobaluk and Gunditjmara people
2 April | BOOK

Wangaratta Performing Arts & Convention Centre, VIC | Land of the Bpangerang people
5 April | BOOK

Logan Entertainment Centre, QLD | Land of the Yugambeh people
7 April | BOOK

Brisbane Powerhouse, QLD | Land of the Turrbal and Jagera people
8 + 9 April | BOOK

HOTA, QLD | Land of the Yugambeh people
12 April | BOOK

Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre, QLD | Land of the Yuiberra people
14 April | BOOK

Pilbeam Theatre Rockhampton, QLD | Land of the Darumbal people
20 April | BOOK

Glasshouse Theatre Port Macquarie, NSW  | Land of the Birpai people  
23 April | BOOK

Capitol Theatre Tamworth, NSW | Land of the Gamilaraay people
26 April | BOOK

Orange Civic Theatre, NSW | Land of the Wiradjuri people
28 April | BOOK

Wagga Wagga Civic Theatre, NSW  | Land of the Wiradjuri people
30 April | BOOK

Griffith Regional Theatre, NSW | Land of the Wiradjuri people
3 May | BOOK

Goulburn Performing Arts Centre, NSW  | Land of the Gundungurra people
5 May | BOOK

Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, NSW | Land of the Wonnarua people 
7 May | BOOK

Glen Street Theatre Belrose, NSW | Land of the Gadigal people
11-15 May | BOOK

The Art House Wyong, NSW | Land of the Darkinjung people
18+19 May | BOOK

Civic Theatre Newcastle, NSW | Land of the Awabakal and Worimi people
21+22 May | BOOK

Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre, NSW | Land of the Wiradjuri people
25 May | BOOK

Zenith Theatre Chatswood, NSW | Land of the Cammeraygal people
31 May | BOOK

Touring

March - May 2022


CREDITS

Director Wesley Enoch  (Noonuccal Nuugi)
Playwright Geoffrey Atherden
Associate Director Yolande Brown (Bidjara Clan) 
Cultural Consultant  Uncle Richard Kennedy (Wotjobalulk traditional owner and descendent of First XI Team member, Dik-A-Dik)  
Set and Costume Designer Richard Roberts 
Lighting Designer Trent Suidgeest 
Composer and Sound Designer  Steve Francis
Dramaturg Jane Fitzgerald
Stage Manager Michelle Sverdloff
Assistant Stage Manager Fiona Lloyd Harding
Touring Production Manager Jason Thelwell
Costume Supervisor Sara Kolijn

Cast Joseph Althouse (Wunujaka), Phoebe Grainer (TBC), Mema Munro (Marriamu), Mark Nannup (Yamaji/Noongar), Kyle Shilling (TBC) & Colin Smith (Jagera)


If you are interested in touring get in contact!

Arts on Tour
280 381 880
touring@artsontour.com.au