QTC’s 2015 production of The 7 Stages of Grieving directed by Jason Klarwein and performed in Bille Brown Studio incorporates contemporary Indigenous drama conventions to create dramatic meaning. The 7 Stages of Grieving is a wise and powerful play about the grief of Indigenous people and the hope of reconciliation. The play expresses the significance of the stories of the Indigenous people by using dramatic elements, Indigenous drama conventions and a nomadic performer, Chenoa Deemal, to communicate the hard truths of the lives of past and current Aboriginal people.
Through the use of symbol, role, and time and place this message is expressed in an extremely powerful and effective way which illustrates the grieving that Indigenous people have had to endure over many generations. Jason Klarwein smartly manipulates symbol to retell the emotional stories of Indigenous people and display the grieving that process that Aboriginal people have went through. The 7 Stages of Grieving uses a variety of symbolic words and phrases, props, and a powerful set design in order to emphasise the history of the Aboriginal people and the stories they have to share.Order now
A poignant example of symbol within the performance occurs in the last scene. Klarwein interestingly includes an extract from “The Apology Speech” by Kevin Rudd. Klarwein adds a scene, which was not in the original performance where the stage dims, and the nomadic performer leaves the stage through a door hidden on the back wall of the stage. Deemal leaves this door open and a bright white light escapes shining over the dark stage and the previously drawn circles on the stage.
The use of this intriguing white light represents the innocence of the Aboriginal people, the light itself symbolises the hope that Indigenous people possess of reconciliation. Symbolism of the Aboriginal people is further expressed through the circles that have been drawn on the stage using different colours of sand throughout the performance. The colours of which these circles have been drawn in symbolises the Aboriginal culture and they also have a strong connection to Deemal and her hometown.
Symbolic phrases are used in the performance to demonstrate the importance culture is to Aboriginal people and how they have continued to pass this down through stories over many generations. One example of this occurs when Deemal draws a blue circle on the stage whilst chanting the line, “I am a strong woman. ” She chants this however in the language of her hometown. As the nomadic performer chants this line in her own Aboriginal language, this displays how Deemal, even though she lives in a modern day world, is still in touch with her Indigenous culture.
The use of this language demonstrates how important it is that the Aboriginal language is passed on and the importance of family heritage within the Aboriginal culture. Collectively, this powerful use of symbol communicates to the audience the importance of Aboriginal stories and the history of the Aboriginal people. Dramatic meaning is successfully portrayed within the performance through the use of the dramatic element of role. Klarwein’s use of storytelling, multiple roles, and minimalistic costuming emphasises the dramatic meaning displayed within The 7 Stages of Grieving and how grief has affected many generation of Aboriginal people.
Through the use of storytelling the nomadic performer displays how grief has affected Aboriginal people over many generations. Deemal stated that. “ grief encompasses many people, not just one person. ” This helps to illustrate how grief has continued to disturb the Aboriginal people over many generations as it doesn’t affect one specific person and that it is a continuous cycle. Through the use of multiple roles the nomadic performer exemplifies how many people are affected by grief. Throughout the performance the characters that Deemal embodied seemed to be getting older.
This displays how, through the use of multiple roles, that the grief has affected many generations of Aboriginal people. Klarwein’s use of minimalistic costuming emphasises the dramatic meaning depicted within The 7 Stages of Grieving. Deemal appears on stage through the majority of the performance in the same costume. This helps to illustrate her as representing all Aboriginal people. An example where costuming is used effectively is in scene 11, 1788, where the nomadic performer takes on the role of Captain Cook.
She does this by placing a captain hat on her head and holding a union jack flag. Through this use of costuming the nomadic performer looks out of place, like he/she doesn’t belong. This costuming illustrates how the arrival of Captain Cook in Australia was not right and that he didn’t belong. The play displays the significance landscape is to the Aboriginal people and their culture. The nomadic performer expresses how grief has affected and is continuing to affect many generations of Aboriginal people.
Through the use of storytelling, multiple roles and minimalistic costuming Klarwein and the nomadic performer are successful in portraying how grief has affected many generations in the Aboriginal community within The 7 Stages of Grieving. Through the use of the dramatic elements time and place the significance of the stories of Aboriginal people and the grief that they have endured over many generations is expressed in The 7 Stages of Grieving. Klarwein portrays this through the use of dramatic and Indigenous conventions such as sound effects, language, lighting and stage design.
Klarwein cleverly uses the sound effects of nature and rain to enhance the importance of the storytelling at the start of the performance. These sound effects help the audience to connect with the performance and allow them to imagine a place within the Australian landscape. Deemal includes the Indigenous language from her hometown within the performance. This enhances the dramatic meaning of the storytelling within the performance as it illustrates that the nomadic performer has a strong connection to the play and the meaning behind it.
Klarwein is successful in tying the past and the present together through the use of lighting and stage design. In scene one scene (see notes) the lights that are on Deemal form two shadows, these representing her ancestors. Deemal further goes on to discuss how grief has affected the Aboriginal people whilst these shadows are projected behind her. These projections tie together the past and the present and how grief has been detrimental to the lives of Aboriginal people.
Jason Klarwein and the nomadic performer, Chenoa Deemal, display the significance of the stories of Aboriginal people and the grief that they have had to undergo for so many years through the use of many Indigenous conventions and dramatic elements. Jason Klarwein’s 2015 QTC’s production, The 7 Stages of Grieving encompasses contemporary Indigenous drama conventions to present the hard truths of the Aboriginal people and the grief that they have had to tolerate over many centuries.
This play expresses the grief that Aboriginal people had to endure and their hope for reconciliation. Throughout the performance the significance of the stories of Indigenous people is expressed through the use of dramatic elements, Indigenous drama conventions and the nomadic performer, Chenoa Deemal, to communicate the truths of these stories. Symbol, role, time and place are used through the performance to create powerful message of how Aboriginal people have beared so much grieving over many years.