Queensland Theatre is set to unveil a captivating narrative this July, showcasing the world premiere of “don’t ask what the bird look like.” This groundbreaking production is the brainchild of First Nations writer Hannah Belanszky, brought to life under the artistic guidance of Lee Lewis, the Artistic Director, and Roxanne McDonald, the Artistic Elder.
The play revolves around Joan, a young woman of First Nations descent, as she embarks on a journey from the city to the remote corners of Australia. Her mission is to reconnect with her estranged father, Mick, and unearth the layers of her family’s history and identity that lie hidden in the vast landscapes.
Hannah Belanszky, the gifted playwright behind this evocative tale, expressed her pride in having the opportunity to share “don’t ask what the bird look like” on the illustrious stage of the Bille Brown Theatre. She explained that the play delves into the discovery of culture and the profound significance of nurturing it within ourselves.
Roxanne McDonald, Co-Director and Artistic Elder at Queensland Theatre, highlighted the importance of amplifying the voices and talents of young First Nations creatives. She emphasized that these stories hold the potential to not only honor cultural heritage but also empower future generations to find their own voices.
McDonald shared her excitement about the play’s theme of family and reconnection, which she noted is universally relatable yet deeply personal. She expressed her anticipation for the future creations that Belanszky will bring to the artistic landscape.
The production, originally a finalist for the 2018-19 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, faced a delay in its debut due to the devastating floods that struck Queensland Theatre during the 2022 Season. Now, with newfound energy, the story is ready to be brought to life.
The cast includes Matilda Brown, renowned for her role in “The Sapphires,” portraying Joan, while Michael Tuahine, known for “Country Song,” plays the role of Mick. Shakira Clanton, celebrated for “Barbara and the Camp Dogs,” takes on the role of Pattie.
Lee Lewis, in describing “don’t ask what the bird look like,” characterized it as a tender, humorous, and somewhat gothic exploration of themes like land, family, and reconnection. She lauded Belanszky’s writing talent as a testament to the exceptional quality that the state can produce.
Discounted tickets for First Nations community members are available through MOBTIX for all performances. Additionally, a Yarning Circle event with Hannah Belanszky and Roxanne McDonald is scheduled for Tuesday, September 5, inviting all to engage in discussions surrounding the play’s themes.
Tickets for performances from Saturday, August 19, to Saturday, September 9, can be purchased at Queensland Theatre’s website. This world premiere promises to be a remarkable celebration of First Nations storytelling and an exploration of identity, family, and the connections that define us.