‘The Seven Stages of Grieving’

(I have just spoken to Nick today, who is going to try and upload the footage I have from the play. Because of copyright issues I can’t put it on youtube sorry, so Nick said he would try and put it somewhere else on the site.)

Hello everyone, I’m Wren (o:

The Seven Stages of Grieving is a play written by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, first performed in 1996 by the Kooemba Jdarra Theatre company (Kooemba Jdarra means ‘good ground‘ in the Turrabul language from South East Queensland). I think that it is a wonderful play. It shares the grief experienced by aboriginal people and talks about reconciliation. It is made up of lots of little stories about different people and different families, but they are all told by the one actress. They are all beautifully told. Some of them are incredibly funny whilst at the same time devastating sad. I think it illustrates particularly well the cultural differences when it comes to family structure. In one section of the play called Home Story, the woman begins to explain the complexities of Kin relations and uses small piles of dirt to demonstrate which groups are allowed to marry into which groups and so on. As you will see, it becomes clear that the complex structure of these relationships forms the foundations of aboriginal culture. When this structure is upset in any way, resolving the imbalance caused is no simple matter. I have video footage of this scene as it was performed at the STC, but unfortunately I am still working on a way of attaching it to the blog. Here is part of the script for you to read however;

16 HOME STORY

The woman takes several handfuls of red earth from the grave making a large pile on the floor.

Now i want to tell you a story. I’ll tell you how it was told to me. now it’s very complex, i get it wrong sometimes, I’m no expert but I’ll try to explain it the best way i can, so you’ll have to stay with me. it’s all got to do with family culture and language and stuff. are you with me?

This pile here is the land, the source, the spirit, the core of everything. are you with me on that?

The woman makes a circle around the pile

And this one here is about culture, family, song, tradition, dance. have you got that?

Then came the children. Every one has their place. now this is where it gets complicated so you’ll have to stay with me.

The woman makes eight smaller  piles around the larger pile within the circle.

You always have to marry within your own skin.

If i was part of this pile here, that would mean this pile would be my mother…because you always follow the line of the woman. and this pile could be my father…or this one. Which makes this one and this one here my grandparents and cousins.

Now if I was to marry, I couldn’t marry from the same pile becasue they would be my brothers and sisters. But I could marry this pile here becasue they’re my cousins, which makes this pile my children, because you always follow the line of the woman. are you with me?

I’ll explain that again.

This mob and this mob can marry becasue they’re grandparents and cousins. You can’t marry this mob because they’re your brothers and sisters and you can’t marry this mob or this mob because they’re your children. Cause you always follow the line of the woman.

You can’t marry this one, this one or this one because that’s like marrying your father.

The only ones I could marry are…wait a minute. This mob and this mob can marry because they’re grandparents and cousins. You can’t marry this mob because they’re your brothers and sisters and you can’t marry this mob because they’re your children. Cause you always follow the line of the woman. You can’t marry this one, this one or this one because that’s like marrying your father. The only ones I could marry are this mob or this mob. Are you with me?

The woman gathers up the smaller piles and relocates them on the white fringing that defines the black performing area.

Now imagine when the children are taken away from this. Are you with me?

The woman flays her arm through the remaining large pile and circle, destroying it.

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This is just one scene, hopefully I can get the footage to work and hopefully you will be inspired to read the whole thing. There are songs used in the play written in Kamilaroi and a number of different words also. Translations and a Glossary are provided at the end of the play.

**************************************************************************************************

On a separate note, I saw Cath’s posting on Babakiueria. I also watched this film in highschool while I was doing Aboriginal studies, and it came to mind during this unit. I agree Cath, it is a great series. I have actually found it online so here is part one. Thankyou Cath.[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/06DKCdJWK2c" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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2 Responses to ‘The Seven Stages of Grieving’

  1. Catherine says:

    Well done, Wren – I searched high and low but couldn’t find it online but all the same I am now the proud owner of the dvd anyway!! Brilliant show.
    Cath

  2. amelia says:

    Thanks heaps for posting this! I thought I’d seen it at school too, but it turns out they only showed us up until the main title, the first 3 minutes or so. Considering how conservative my school was, the teacher probably couldn’t get permission to show the whole thing! Nice to have finally caught up!

    Amelia.

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