Inspired by the true story of legendary First Nations cricketer Johnny Mullagh and Australia’s first ever international sporting team, this is not just about cricket. This is a story of strength, resistance, hope and possibility.

Overview

Over 150 years ago, 13 brave Aboriginal men in Western Victoria picked up their cricket bats and embarked on a treacherous voyage to England and into the unknown – all in the name of sport. Risking illness and persecution, Australia’s first international cricket team – including Australia’s first Indigenous sporting hero, Johnny Mullagh – amazed the English crowds with astonishing talent, personality and grit. They should have returned to Australia as celebrated heroes. Instead they came back to find the world they once knew was no longer there.

This is not just a story about cricket – this is story of strength, resistance, hope and possibility. When a group of young present-day activists sneak into the Wimmera Discovery Centre to expose the truth of what happened to Johnny and his team mates, a hidden legend of triumph and tragedy unfolds. At once funny and incredibly moving, BLACK COCKATOO is a new artistic collaboration between iconic Australian writer Geoffrey Atherden (MOTHER AND SON, BABAKIUERIA) and Sydney Festival Artistic Director Wesley Enoch (BLACK DIGGERS).

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Reviews

"Not just one of the highlights of this year's festival, but a new high point in telling a national narrative on the stage" The Guardian (2014’s BLACK DIGGERS directed by Wesley Enoch)

Cast & Creatives
Geoffrey Atherden

Geoffrey Atherden

Playwright

Wesley Enoch

Wesley Enoch

Director

Yolande Brown

Yolande Brown

Associate Director

Richard Kennedy

Richard Kennedy

Cultural Consultant

Jane Fitzgerald

Jane Fitzgerald

Dramaturg

Joseph Althouse

Joseph Althouse

Cast

Luke Carroll

Luke Carroll

Cast

Chenoa Deemal

Chenoa Deemal

Cast

Aaron McGrath

Aaron McGrath

Cast

Colin Smith

Colin Smith

Cast

Dubs Yunupingu

Dubs Yunupingu

Cast

Richard Roberts

Richard Roberts

Set & Costume Designer

Trent Suidgeest

Trent Suidgeest

Lighting Designer

Shiloh Jarrett

Shiloh Jarrett

Associate Lighting Designer

Steve Francis

Steve Francis

Composer & Sound Designer

Natalie Moir

Natalie Moir

Stage Manager

Sara Kolijn

Sara Kolijn

Costume Supervisor

Amy Hume

Amy Hume

Dialect Coach

Writer's Note

“BLACK COCKATOO has given me a wonderful opportunity to work with some talented and brilliant First Australians to tell an important story of our shared history. I bring to the project a sense of humour, a love of extraordinary characters and a commitment to exploring the truth. ” – Writer Geoffrey Atherden

Director's Note

“Visiting the community of Harrow and talking to descendants of the First XI was a huge honour. These men of the First XI, who travelled across the globe to be the first ever international touring sporting group in the world, opened a path not just for themselves and their families but established a story of sport and Aboriginal advancement that would continue for the next 150 years. Black Cockatoo tells a story that should be part of the national storytelling. Everyone should know this story. It’s about our great national obsession and our great national neglect.” – Director Wesley Enoch

Watch the Trailer