The Return

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The Return

By John Harvey, Jason Tamiru & Matthew Lutton

13 May 2022 – 04 June 2022 Merlyn Theatre

Malthouse Theatre,

New Writing Commission Theatre World Premiere

AN EPIC, 250-YEAR STORY TO RETURN HOME THE CAPTIVE BODILY REMAINS OF FIRST PEOPLES.

Once considered ‘exotic’ trophies of antiquity, the bodily remains of Indigenous men, women, and children served scientific theories of evolution and were prized objects displayed on mantelpieces. In the cover of darkness, grave robbers would pillage burial grounds, to sell Ancestral remains to the highest bidder under the guise of scientific research. Thousands were stolen and sold.

Today, they are still locked away.

Some are displayed in private homes, while others are hidden deep within the bowels of museums and universities. Now is the time to bring them back to Country.

Torres Strait Islander playwright John Harvey (Heart is a Wasteland) recounts a dark history of Australia in The Return, inspired by Yorta Yorta man Jason Tamiru’s experiences as a repatriation worker. Three narratives interweave—a repatriation officer, a museum curator, and a bone collector—uncovering a macabre history of false justifications in an epic tale spanning 250 years.

In his Malthouse directorial debut, Jason Tamiru joins forces with Malthouse Theatre Artistic Director Matthew Lutton for a theatrical event that will give rise to how the repatriation of Ancestors can bring us closer to homecoming and healing.

 

★★★★★
"A MASTERFULLY WRITTEN DARK COMEDY... SPELLBINDING"
— TIME OUT

 

"MAKES AN IMPORTANT STATEMENT WITHOUT INHIBITION AND WITH ENORMOUS GRACE AND STYLE"
— STAGE WHISPERS
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Cast

Creatives

John Harvey

John Harvey

Writer

Jason Tamiru

Jason Tamiru

Co-director & Cultural Custodian

Matthew Lutton

Matthew Lutton

Co-director

Mark Pritchard

Mark Pritchard

Dramaturg

Zoe Atkinson

Zoe Atkinson

Set Designer

Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson

Lighting Designer

Zoe Rouse

Zoe Rouse

Costume Designer

Jethro Woodward

Jethro Woodward

Composer & Sound Designer

Jason Tamiru

Jason Tamiru

Traditional Vocals, Yidaki, Clapsticks

Chloe Ogilvie

Design Consultant

Culture Evolves

Culture Evolves

Cultural Dance & Ceremony

Sean Ryan

Sean Ryan

Yiki Yiki (Didgeridoo)

Kristel Kickett

Kristel Kickett

Understudy

Ari Maza Long

Ari Maza Long

Understudy

Lyndie  Li Wan Po

Lyndie Li Wan Po

Stage Manager

Cointha Walkeden

Cointha Walkeden

Assistant Stage Manager

Acknowledgements

The Return is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. A Malthouse Theatre and RISING co-commission. PRESENTED WITH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF / Dara Foundation, Bardas Foundation, Circle5 Foundation, Lorraine & John Bates, Canny Quine Foundation, Pinky Watson

Production Program