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Dylan Van Den Berg's Whitefella Yella Tree is tackling queer love and country

Joseph Guenzler -

Palawa man Dylan Van Den Berg's "Whitefella Yella Tree" captivates with its exploration of young, queer love and country amidst invasion.

Griffin Theatre Company showcased this compelling play in August/September 2022, and its subsequent triumph at the 2023 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Playwriting solidifying its place in the national canon.

As the sole theatre company in the nation dedicated curating new Australian writing, Griffin holds a unique position.

Situated in the iconic SBW Stables Theatre in Kings Cross since 1978, Griffin continues to be the hub for the exploration and expression of fresh narratives in Australia.

Early in his career, Mr Van Den Berg has claimed the Griffin Award, the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award, and the Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

"It's often hard to pinpoint when the idea for a play comes to you. Usually, for me it percolates for a while before I have a sense that there might be something there," Van Den Berg said.

"With Whitefella Yella Tree, that was not the case."

In 'Whitefella Yella Tree', he crafts a poignant narrative about love, Country, and Blak queerness across history.

"The earliest notions of this work bubbled up angrily when I read a Tweet almost a decade ago," he added.

Production still of 'Whitefella Yella Tree' (Image: Supplied/ATL)

"Anthony Mundine said that artistic depictions of queer Aboriginal folks are out of sync with 'our culture' forbidden, - in fact - and that the ancestors would be none too happy.

"Since then, Mundine has gone on to say things which an older me can, on

one level, take with the single grain of salt they deserve, but they still trigger

memories of that disorienting encounter with the idea that queer identity was at odds with culture."

Featuring Helpmann Award-winner Guy Simon and developed through the Griffin Studio program, the play emerges as a powerful force of nature and a touching first kiss.

"I've written this play in the hope that you might reflect on the rich and real detail of lives that were disrupted when the ships hit the shore," Mr Van Den Berg said.

"The queer love stories that never got to be written."

"'Whitefella Yella Tree' is set to premiere on ATL ON DEMAND on Thursday, 16th November.

Among the six works set to debut on the subscription platform in the coming year are Dylan Van Den Berg's Whitefella Yella Tree and Kirsty Marillier's Orange Thrower.

The lineup further includes Melissa Bubnic's Ghosting The Party, Merlynn Tong's Golden Blood, Eloise Snape's Pony, and Nakkiah Lui's Blaque Showgirls.

This addition enriches the platform's diverse collection of 27 Australian digital live performances, accessible at $7.99 per month or $74.99 per year.

Additionally, educational institutions can access it through ATL ON DEMAND: EDUCATION.


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