Noelle Janaczewska wrote This Territory as a response to the Cronulla Riots in 2005. She was approached by the director of Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) to write about the issues from the perspectives of young people and spent six months interviewing young people across Sydney.
Because This Territory was written as a commission for ATYP it has a large cast of young people and would be a good project for high schools and universities. It tackles themes of inclusivity, asks what being Australian means, and looks at different cultural perspectives.
Janaczewska manages to embed poetry and strong images in the language. It’s there in the chorus of The Voices of Dust:
Then one day, Enki, the ancient Mesopotamian god of craft and wisdom, marshlands,
freshwater and a whole heap of other things,
bored perhaps with all this harmony,
changed the words in people’s mouths,
and the speech that had been universal and understood by everyone,
broke into a kaleidoscope of different tongues.
Poetry is also there in Apricot’s words:
How long are we going to sit here zipping our heels on the carpet, wondering how much static you need to make a spark?
This isn’t a didactic piece. It doesn’t portray one culture as less worthy than another. It reflects the fears, misconstructions and paranoia that plague us all. And it shows the fragile nature of ‘truth’. Throughout the play, eye-witnesses reconstruct the violent event that started the riot, but each person remembers it differently. This Territory beautifully illustrates the way that what we see is often what we want to see, or what we expect to see, rather than what is actually in front of us.
Publisher: Currency Press (published alongside Songket)
Cast: 9F, 8M + chorus of Voices of the Dust: can be female and/or male