Affiliate Director, Adam Deusien, talks about regional Australia and stories that transcend geography.
My name is Adam Deusien and I’m the Affiliate Director attached to Angus Cerini’s The Bleeding Tree.
I’ve spent the last six weeks sitting in on this new work coming to life, in between the occasional day when I’m having to duck back off to Bathurst. The bulk of my practice takes place out there, a city three hours inland from Sydney over the Blue Mountains in a regional area collectively known as the Central West.
In my hometown over the mountains I’m a theatre director that works in scripted work, and with a background in physical theatre, I’m co-director of Bathurst based Lingua Franca Dance & Physical Theatre. We make a number of new works a year, so if you find yourself in Bathurst in November you could check out our latest, unsustainable behaviour at Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre.
I’m also a lecturer in Charles Sturt University’s Theatre/Media program out there, so it’s a great treat to be sitting in with the Griffin team, baring witness to the process of arguably one of the country’s greatest proponents of new scripted Australian plays, which is not only augmenting my own practice but also contributing to the knowledge I can share with the Theatre/Media students.
When applying for the Affiliate Director program, I spoke of how I care deeply about the representation of regional Australians and the stories we share about them, particularly those that have their origins or productions in metropolitan centres. Many of the regionally based performance makers I know, myself included, are often concerned about how these stories are handled, given that that they often deal with the daily realities that we face not only ourselves, but those of our communities and audiences, sometimes with little, cursory or even patronising interaction from metropolitan performance companies.
This certainly isn’t the case here though. I didn’t know it at the time, but director Lee Lewis is from a regional town herself, Goulburn. Whenever she speaks about her time growing up there I find myself nodding in familiar assent, or having a little giggle at particular insights only a fellow country person would know. She, and Griffin, deeply care about Australian stories, wherever they come from.
I’ve discovered though that this show isn’t about its geography. The rural/remote landscape of this play is a symbol reflecting and amplifying the isolation of the characters: an insolation inflicted on the three women not only by the abusive man of the house, but also by their reticent community unable or unwilling to articulate the trauma they know is happening. It can, and does, sadly, happen everywhere.
Rest assured though that this play won’t simply drag you through the dark! The show glows with Angus’ dark wit, and the generous humour of Paula, Airlie and Shari can’t help but shine through. I find my heart breaking for them one second, and then the next I’m chuckling heartily out loud.
It’s been a wonderful gift to watch this show coalesce over the last six weeks, being privy to the delicate maneuvers of director Lee Lewis. She has carved a careful but courageous path forward for the whole team, as they all carry the task of providing a platform for this important national conversation.
Affiliate Director, The Bleeding Tree