Company / Producer Name Desert Wirla
Contact Person Zac James
Contact Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Genre: Contemporary Theatre, First Nations Drama
First Nations heritage, a family curse and ghosts at the dinner table.
‘Kangaroo Stew’ is an Australian play written by Zac James and a new addition to the Australian First Nations cannon of contemporary Aboriginal theatre. Centred around the Wite family, ‘Kangaroo Stew’ is an exploration into modern Aboriginality, Culture, the impacts of mining on tradition and the role grief plays within family structures. Set in Leonora, a town in the Western Australian Goldfields, David is returning to see his family. It’s the anniversary of his Dad, John’s death and John doesn’t like to stay dead during his anniversary. Jack, David’s older brother, has taken charge. of the family. His relationship with David is pressed once he discovers David’s motive for returning home is to approve a mine site near the family’s traditional/sacred ground. Accompanying David is Anne, his watjela (Caucasian) fiancé. This is the first time she’s been in David’s hometown during the anniversary of his dad’s passing. Lilly, the matriarch of the family struggles between an overpowering grief and alcohol addiction as the ghost of John literally haunts her, encasing her within living memories. David and John must reconnect their spirit to keep the family safe but what is more important, money for stability or lore for soul? Kangaroo Stew is a story of modern-day Aboriginality and what it means to be a Black family in a colonised world.
The play has been purposely presented as a classic ‘kitchen sink’ style drama (Pinta, Ibsen) during the first half of the story. Focus on familial relationships and naturalistic dialogue lends itself towards a Chekhov style so that tension is built within the opening scenes without giving hint to the reality breaking shift that occurs once John takes David into the Dreaming realm. Once the ghost of John becomes more present within the show, characters shift between the spirit realm and commonly perceived reality. This is done intentionally to represent the two worlds that we as Aboriginal people walk between. Spirituality/Dreaming is just as normal as standard reality. The audience members feel as though they are going to be experiencing a dry cut drama, thus transferring them to the dreaming realm seamlessly and surprisingly, leaving a bigger impact.
“Kangaroo Stew is wonderfully uplifting, a stunning insight into the everyday understanding of spirituality and culture. It’s connections to land and family are strong, tangible threads that prove that much like the stew itself, every element is different but when it comes together it works better than ever. And it’s a bloody good show, too!”
“Featuring a five-person cast of phenomenal actors, Kangaroo Stew takes you back to your roots and educates while entertaining…” “[Bruce] Denny’s direction is smooth … alongside masterful lighting design from Peter Young … to accompany Maitland Schnaars’ hypnotic storytelling.” “[Micah] Kickett and [Zac] James share a brilliant chemistry that is every sibling relationship. They love each other fiercely but also have the capacity to hurt each other because of it.”
“Schnaars and [Rayma] Morrison share a touching moment that is so perfectly performed there isn’t a dry eye in the house.” “While all the actors are outstanding … it’s Rayma Morrison’s turn as the feisty, cheeky but deeply tormented family matriarch that steals the laughs and at times the show. It’s interesting to note that Morrison only made her theatre acting debut three years ago.”
“… like a good, hearty feed of kangaroo stew, when the final lights went down, this production left me feeling completely satisfied.”
Duration of performance 60 mins
Maximum performances a week 8
Weekly Fee: $13,975.82
Date the performance is available from From 2022
No. people in Touring Party 8
Bump-in and bump-out time (# hours). Bump-in, 10 hrs. Bump-out, 5 hrs.
First Possible Performance Morning of 2nd Day
Minimum Break Between Shows 2 hrs
Theatre formats Black Box Minimum stage dimensions (metres) 10 x 5
Lighting requirements Show Specific: 2x Floor Wash / Shadow Units on H-Stands, 4x Custom Gobos & Profiles (FOH), 2x Flown Prac / Pendant Lights. General: Standard Backlight & LED Front of House Wash and 1K High Sides
Audio Requirements Basic audio system, CPU to run QLab, Mixer
Other technical or performance notes : 1 technical staff member required
What marketing collateral is available? Archival video Production photos Sample media release E-flyer
Please describe any community engagement you can offer with this work Kangaroo Stew will be accompanied by the ‘Wangkaniny Tjuma’ workshops (Speak and Tell). They are writing workshops to implement within communities, focusing on elders and First Nations people, with the aim of passing on tools to write.
Zac James is a TO Wongi, Yamatji man and a very experienced writer and prolific workshop facilitator. As the Creative Director of Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, he developed the Moorditj Wirla (Strong Heart) Workshops, which explore culture and the importance of belonging and identity in community mental health. Zac has both trained facilitators for the Moorditj Wirla Workshops and facilitated them himself. He has also worked as Coordinator of the Theatrical Response Group for Constable Care, and a facilitator of Yirra Yaakin’s Culture 2.0 Workshops which toured extensively to regional WA. As an actor, Zac has featured in 8MMM: Aboriginal Radio (ABC/Netflix), Shadow Trackers (SBS/ NITV), and the play Conversations with the Dead (Yirra Yaakin). He was a recipient of Screen Australia’s Pitch Short Black development program and his writing credits include Kaarla Kaatijin, Ice Land: A Hip h’Opera and Bilya Kaatijin. Zac studied at WAAPA, specialising in acting and performance.
1..Mature families with high school aged children Busy and organised lifestyle Collaborators with and supporters of each other Parents working hard to get their children ‘ahead’ Children may be entering the workforce for the first time 2..Empty nesters (approximate age 60-79) Respected members of the community If First Nations, may be identified as Elders and knowledge holders Family and community oriented Strong sense of giving back to the community and younger generations, philanthropic nature May have adult children who are now working professionals 3..Working professionals (approximate age 27-44) Active social life Frequent food, drink, arts and culture event attendees Supporters of local business Sense of drive and commitment, strong sense of social justice May have young children 4..High school students Solidifying their identity Sense of openness, curiosity, and humor Striving to understand the world and their place in it Note: ‘Kangaroo Stew’ was initially written ten years ago, at the time elements of the story had been based upon surveys conducted on 500 + Aboriginal secondary students. They were asked to reflect on what elements of culture held strength to them, what types of stories they would like to see reflected and others related. Overwhelmingly they responded with Family, food, tradition and money. With this information, Zac used his current lived experiences with the impact of Native Title and the passing of his Nan to form Kangaroo Stew. 5..First Nations peoples (globally), culturally and linguistically diverse peoples and people with a disability Strong sense of social justice Vocal about representations of their respective communities Frequently engaging in activities and seeking out ways to give back to and support their communities.