"Mirror Mirror on the Screen"

Wednesday night before Easter was a big night for Jilkminggan. The small town on the Roper River had an opening night and about seventy people, young and old, came for the first performance of a play produced by the young members of the town.

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The project was supported by a Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal/ABC Haywire Youth Innovation Grant.

Written and performed by young local performers, most without performance experience, the play was based on alcohol’s impact on small communities and families.

“The play is Community to Community, and across the generations, showing the effects of alcohol on their own mob…it was a great way to deliver a message,” said Holly Gosden, Roper Gulf Regional Council’s Jilkminggan Sport and Recreation Coordinator.

Two Sydney based volunteers from Indigenous Community Volunteers, Nadia and Shai assisted with writing and drama development. Other residents helped with costume, make up and the construction of scenery construction, painting, and catering.

Sixty young people have been involved in the project so far. Holly Gosden added,

As well as fun, I think I have the shyest kids in the region… and preparations were quite intense. It was really hands on and the kids enjoyed voicing their opinions…and the hard work has gone on right up to the kids going on stage tonight.”

The performance was held on the town’s basketball court; an atmospheric location in the sticky heat of early April. The single spot light lit the brightly painted stage set, a geometric and primary coloured design and highlighted the stark face paint make up of the performers.

As the play was written from the players’ own experience it had a raw feeling but was also funny. The audience quickly involved themselves in the story that generated a lot of discussion after.

The personal development of shy young people and the opportunity for self expression is invaluable as was the experience of the community working together and seeing itself in a mirror held by their children.

The plan is to travel the show to neighbouring towns. Sets and stage have been designed to be easily transportable.


Story and photos reprinted with the kind permission of Stephen Roper and Roper Gulf Regional Council