CHRISTINE Anu is no stranger to the stage but the sweetheart of Australian song believes there’s something special about telling a person’s story rather than singing it.
Anu will perform in Parramatta later this month when she brings Rainbow’s End back to Riverside Theatres.
The play, which tells the stories of three generations of Koori women and the lives they lead in 1950s conservative rural Australia, was a popular production in Riverside’s 2009 program, and Anu said she was looking forward to performing it again for local audiences.
“It’s a beautiful piece of theatre with great actors and it gives those who see it the chance to learn about a different part of Australian history,’’ she said.
The three women Lillian Crombie as Nan Dear, Anu as her daughter Gladys and newcomer Chenoa Deemal as teenage grand-daughter Dolly live in a shack on the flood plain of the Goulburn River near Shepparton in Victoria.
Set against the backdrop of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Australia in 1954, the story follows these three tenacious women as they fight for opportunities in post-colonial Australia.
“It’s about the past, present and future and is very much based on these women’s survival. It covers quite a big history and shows the audience how change is a constant thing, no matter what generation you’re from,’’ Anu said.
Rainbow’s End was commissioned by Victoria’s Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative in 2001 and has since played in Japan and at Rumbalara (meaning rainbow) near
Shepparton, Victoria the Aboriginal settlement which inspired the work.
Since the production’s last visit to Riverside Theatres, Anu has been touring the country with the musical The Sapphires.
“As part of The Sapphires, I actually got to visit the places that the story of Rainbow’s End are based on. It really gave me something to visualise this time around,’’ she said.
Singing and acting are “black and white’’ to Anu, one of Australia’s most successful indigenous performers, who relishes the chance to get back on stage to tell someone’s story.
“Acting is not a format that I’m particularly experienced at but I love it,’’ she said. “The more I do it, the more I’m engaged with the character, and it’s nice to be telling a story and not doing so through song. I’m telling a message in a different way.’‘
Riverside is the first stop on Rainbow’s End’s tour.
“Luckily the production got a touring grant and now we’ll be taking the play to regional centres,’’ Anu said.
“We all need to see plays and it’s important for them to be seen in areas that some productions don’t reach. Often those people have a different interpretation than others.’‘
It’s been more than 15 years since Anu’s rendition of My Island Home entered the Australian songbook but the songwriter, singer and actress can see similarities between that song’s message and that of Rainbow’s End. “It’s not where you are or what your address is, it’s who you’re surrounded by that makes up a home,’’ Anu said.
* WHAT: Rainbow’s End at Riverside Theatres
* WHEN: Thursday, April 28, to Saturday, May 7
* TICKETS: Adult $45, concession $40, under-30 $33
* INFORMATION: see riversideparramatta.com.au or call 8839 3399 for bookings
SOURCE: PARRAMATTA ADVERTISER