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Photograph by Brett Boardman

City of Gold

Griffin Theatre Company presents a Co-production with Queensland Theatre Company, CITY OF GOLD, by Meyne Wyatt, at the SBW Stables Theatre, Nimrod St., Darlinghurst, 26th July - 31 st August, 2019

CITY OF GOLD, is a new Australian play written by actor, Meyne Wyatt – his first play. And what a debut play it is!

Writing a play was a plan that Meyne Wyatt had thought would happen in the future when he felt more established as an artist. He was not yet ready. Then, a ‘perfect storm’ of personal events caught him off-guard and accumulated into an overwhelming state of depression that conjured a responding energy, driven by a ‘rage’, that forced him to sit down and write.

Writes Meyne in the program notes:

So, I did what many first-time writers do, and are encouraged to do. I wrote from a place of experience. I wrote about my grief for the loss of my dad. I wrote about my work in this crazy business they call the entertainment industry. I wrote about the place I call the ‘City of Gold’, Kalgoorlie! And I wrote about the biggest stain that afflicts this country to this day: racism and my never-ending battle with it. … I’ve grown up with it. I experience racism on a weekly basis. Even where I live now – Sydney – and I am sick of it. I have worked as an actor for nine years, and in that time I have been fortunate enough to have worked pretty consistently. I understand because of that I have a responsibility to represent my community. I have a platform and I must use it. That’s what this play is.

This play is me doing just that. CITY OF GOLD is an act of rebellion. It is a revolt. It is me using my platform to hold a mirror to Australia and ask it, do you like what you see? … I ask questions. I don’t give answers. … I am not arrogant enough to know the answer to the questions I pose in this play. I don’t have the solution. But hopefully the questions the audience members ask each other after the play will give the glimmer of hope and change that is so desperately needed. … This play is hard work. I hope you like it. I hope you hate it. Just don’t feel anything in between. … Because there are things in this world that are wrong and we all have the responsibility to try and make them right.

Meyne Wyatt’s CITY OF GOLD erupts from a raw and passionate place ignited by painfully lived truths refined, however, by a scintillating intelligence, crafty wit and empathetic grace that prevents it from being just a cascade of rage recrimination. This is a play about the state of a nation where the ‘blacks’ and the ‘whites’ may stand opposite to each other with suspicions, but, also, a play about a family, the Black family: Breythe (Meyne Wyatt), Carina (Shari Sebbens), Mateo (Mathew Cooper), Cliffhanger (Jeremy Ambrum) and Dad (Maitland Schnaars) who, also, may stand opposite to each other with suspicions.

The play is made up of two acts of twenty scenes. It is a mix of naturalism, magic realism (spiritualism) and monologue, ranging across domestic comedy and bitter political confrontation of subtle and not so subtle racism and family division. The dramaturgical structure is surprising and keeps one, as an audience, deliberately, provocatively, attentive. Just when you believe you have the measure of the stylistics one is thrown out of one’s comfort zone.

These stylistics combined with acting that is clear sighted and highly impassioned, especially in the bindings that Mr Wyatt, Cooper and Ms Sebbens bring to their sibling relationship – marvellous acting (how do they do it seven or eight times a week? – it must cost!), and the ugly conviction of racial tension and tragedy from all the cast, including Christopher Stollery and Anthony Standish, reveals the power of CITY OF GOLD, so that one feels that one is witnessing an important production, Directed by Isaac Drandic, of a play that is timely in its presence. Important. Important for the health of family and nation.

Mr Wyatt in speaking out shakes the world we all live in and if we all who have witnessed it can simply listen, perhaps some glimmer of hope of change is possible to believe in. Encourage all you know to see this work – it speaks for us all and none too soon.

The Griffin this year have spoken for our community: Omar Musa’s SINCE ALI DIED; Betty Grumble’s LOVE AND ANGER; Suzie Miller’s PRIME FACIE and now CITY OF GOLD. Plays and productions that ought to be a part of everybody’s conversation.