Jada Alberts' Northern Territory-set family drama comes to Malthouse
Every ten minutes someone in Australia attempts to kill themselves; every four hours, someone succeeds. The rate among Australians of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent is 2.5 times higher for males and 3.4 times higher for females. In her original program note (for the Belvoir premiere in 2014), playwright Jada Alberts put the suicide rate in the Northern Territory at 3.5 times higher than the national average.
If you look at the full set of statistics for suicide in Australia, the most at risk person you can be is a young Indigenous man living outside a major urban city.
These statistics are important context for Alberts’ play, but the work stands alone; the picture the stats paint is merely a way of understanding where the play came from and why it’s important beyond its artistic merits. As a young Indigenous woman, Alberts has witnessed first-hand how suicide ravages her community in Darwin. This play was inspired by a particular incident, one that “kept her awake at night.”
Brothers Wreck is not about the victim in this case, Joe (who we never see), but the at-risk cousin he leaves behind: Ruben. And then it’s also about the aftermath in Joe’s family, and their attempts to pull Ruben out of his darkness and back into the world.
In our review of the 2014 premiere at Belvoir, we wrote:
Brothers Wreck is not really a play about youth suicide; and against expectations, it's incredibly uplifting, presenting a vision of how taking responsibility for each other – whether it’s among blood-family or not – creates a net to catch those most at risk of falling into the darkness of depression.
Jada Alberts will direct the Melbourne premiere, which will star Trevor Jaimeson, Lisa Flanagan and newcomers Leonie Whyman, Nelson Baker and Dion Williams.
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113 Sturt St