Memories of a stolen past

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 12:00am

WITH EQUALITY BEING a much-emphasised part of most societies these days, it's easy to forget how, somewhere in the not too distant past, men and women argued over equal rights, and people struggled against racism. Among these recent battles was the 'containment' of the aborigines that happened from about 1920 to 1970 in Australia.

Under the 'containment' policy, children that were half-aboriginal and half-white were put into special 'homes' with or without their parents' consent. To this day, the government has still not acknowledged what they did or issued an official apology over what happened. This has caused anger, grief, and both social and psychological problems in Australian society.

Stolen, a play by students from the Li Po Chun United World College, explores the stories of violence, hard labour and racism behind these 'homes' and the effects they have on five mixed-race children. The characters go through problems, trying to define who they are and fit into a society which simply does not accept them. Most of them were taken away against the will of the people who protected them, leading them to become what was known as the 'Stolen Generation'.

While the five characters are all children of mixed parentage, the cast is made up of actors from four different continents. The directors of Stolen did not feel this to be an obstacle, as it is a piece that can speak to the audience no matter the actors' skin colour.

According to Sigridur Jonsdittir, one of Stolen's two directors, one of the most important reasons why this play is being produced is because 'it is a story that needs to be told' - 'its combination of passion, sadness and hope'.

Jonsdittir, from Iceland, devotes from three to eight hours a day working on all aspects of the production, with two hours of rehearsals every day.

It is a demanding task to put together Stolen, says the other half of the partnership, Hector Francisco Pascual Alvarez from Spain. Stolen is proving to be a challenging production, a 90-minute performance involving a cast and crew of about 20 students, he said: 'It's difficult, demanding time and energy to coordinate all the areas of the production, to put together our vision of the play in order to create a coherent idea of the whole thing.

'My advice is, if you don't love it, don't do it.'

Winifred Mok is a student from Li Po Chun United World College. Stolen will be performed at the Fringe Theatre from April 29 to May 1 at 7pm. Tickets are $100 for adults and $45 for students. More information can be found on