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Black Cockatoo

  • Theatre
A man wearing cricket whites smiles slightly as he tosses a cricket ball in the air
Photograph: Christian Trinder
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Time Out says

Discover the story of First Nations sportsman Johnny Mullagh in this new work from Geoffrey Atherden and Wesley Enoch

In 1868, Johnny Mullagh (born Unaarrimin) became one of the first people from Australia to play sport internationally when he joined the Aboriginal Cricket Tour of England. A Jardwadjali man, Mullagh was a skilled cricket all-rounder, playing 47 matches on the tour, scoring 1698 runs, bowling 1877 overs and taking 245 wickets. Though he faced racism and discrimination as an Aboriginal man in 19th century Victoria, Mullagh was an advocate for Indigenous rights and was in 2020 inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. 

It's the story of Mullagh that serves as inspiration for Black Cockatoo, a new play coming to Geelong Arts Centre this March. Written by Geoffrey Atherden (Mother
and Son, Babakiueria) and directed by Wesley Enoch (Black Diggers), Black Cockatoo is a story about hope, strength, resistance and possibility – not just cricket. 

Following Mullagh and the rest of the team's tour of England they returned home and were not given the hero's welcome they deserved. In the present day, a group of young activists determined to bring Mullagh's story to light break into the Wimmera Discovery Centre to expose the truth – and in doing so, uncover a story of tragedy and triumph. The productions stars Joseph Althouse (Wunujaka), Colin Smith (Jagera), Mark Nannup (Yamaji/Noongar) and  Phoebe Grainer (Djungan). 

Black Cockatoo is on at Bunjil Place on March 19 and Geelong Arts Centre from March 22 to 26. 

Nicola Dowse
Written by
Nicola Dowse

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