by Kylie Elizabeth Eastley
Burning Daylight is the latest work from Marrugeku, a contemporary intercultural performance company based in Broome, and is inspired by descriptions of Broome's bar life in the late 1800's.
Burning Daylight reflects the tension and chaos of multicultural life in Broome where inter-racial relationships were illegal, the town was brimming with exotic influences from the Far East and the traditional owners of the land were homeless.
Conceivers of Burning Daylight, Rachel Swain and Dalisa Pigram have developed an honest and engaging work that provides glimpses into the humorous and tragic life of cultures affected by government policy, segregation and the search for wealth in the form of pearls.
In an incongruous meeting of rock musical, rap and cheesy spaghetti western the combination of original live music, film and culturally-fused dance creates a mysterious place foreign to most of us. Clever stage production, direction, costuming and props draw the audience into a world that connects with all our senses. Anyone who has lived or travelled to Northern Australia will feel the warm air and smell the frangipani in this production that evokes such feeling from a Tasmanian audience that couldn't be further away culturally and geographically from the inspiration for this work.
I loved this show for many reasons, but mostly because it was Australian culture presented with great honesty and humour. There were many highlights with outstanding performances by all the cast, especially the charismatic Trevor Jamieson and Dalisa Pigram.
But there must be mention of the original and live soundtrack. Music is a fantastic vehicle for story-telling and along with the dynamic dancing, combined to make Burning Daylight a very successful production. The integrity and depth of the music gave the production greater resonance in its depiction of a confused, chaotic and juxtaposed community struggling between the new and the old school.
We need more Australian stories and I look forward to experiencing future works from this company. Complex and flawed as they are, it is so refreshing to see our own stories in live performances. Hobart's Princess Wharf No. 1 succeeded as a venue for this production, allowing the set to extend and enhanced the arid environment of North West Australia.
Burning Daylight was presented by Salamanca Arts Centre and performed three shows in Hobart, the final leg of a national tour. For more information go to www.marrugeku.com.au