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Photo by Alex Wisser

Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company present TRIBUNAL. Concept by Karen Therese, at the SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross, 12 – 20 August.

A tribunal is a court of justice. This TRIBUNAL, in the SBW Theatre, does not reach for that definition, rather it facilitates a gathering of tribunes: indigenous peoples and refugees with their empathetic supporters. Tribunes being defined as a person who upholds or defends popular rights, or dare one say in Australia in August 2016, persons who uphold and defend human rights.

TRIBUNAL is a modest but powerful piece of verbatim theatre. The Powerhouse Theatre Company under the aegis of the Artistic Director, Karen Therese, has prepared a collective of Creative Collaborators/Text /and Performers: Paul Dwyer, Katie Green, Aunty Rhonda Grovenor Dixon, Mahdi Mohammadi, Jawad Yaqoubi and herself to develop ‘a play’, a piece of theatre, to review the stories of the indigenous population and more especially that of recent refugees.

In the week of The Nauru Files and our Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton’s response, this work could not be more relevant. We meet and hear personal stories of experience in a gentle and welcoming format of friendship and respect. It is both engrossing and humbling for we get to meet and hear actual individuals and their remarkable stories. Stories of hope, comedy, sadness and tragedy.

The form/structure of the work is straightforward, open and uncomplicated. On the night I attended members of the audience, late in the timing, were invited to participate and we met, for instance, a social worker, Sarah Coconis, who spoke clearly and quite simply of the emotional violence  perpetrated in Detention Centres, and the complications arising from this trauma. Other audience asked questions and commented from knowledge of their experiences. Invitation to meet and converse after the performance was given and taken.

This project was instigated and developed by Ms Therese during her time and conversations as a 2015 Griffin Studio Artist. It is just one of many works connected to the refugee experience that Ms Therese has facilitated in her home base in Fairfield: LITTLE BAGHDAD: LET’S PARTY LIKE IT’S 620B.C and JUMP FIRST ASK LATER.

The Text Editor (and a performer) Paul Dwyer has shaped a very subtle evening supported with a Sound and Video Design by James Brown of elegant simplicity. All of the participants are easeful and generous, looking and feeling safe in the close SBW Theatre environment.

After writing, this week of the over-the-top satire of THE BEASTby Eddie Perfect and been extremely ambivalent of its ability to deliver a message, and struck stupidly happy by the commercial indulgences of ALADDIN I encourage you to spend time with The Powerhouse Youth Theatre and their important work, TRIBUNAL, in Kings Cross. You will grasp how the theatre can be so diverse in its formulations as I have this week, and in all of those forms entertain the value of the theatre as a jewel of culture for our society’s growth and expansion. And above all else, its simple power, to move us, change us.

Do go. Much can depend on it.