Real Live Theatre

A friend and I had been talking about going to see “Flow” for a couple of weeks. He has a few other things on his plate at the moment and in the end, decided he couldn’t make the commitment.

So on Thursday I wandered by the NORPA box office in Lismore, on spec, hoping there might still be some remaining tickets. Thursday and Friday were sold out, but there were still some tickets for Saturday, the assistant told me.

As we looked through the seating plan together, I spotted some empty seats in the front row. “I know some people don’t like the front row, but I’m happy to sit there”, I told her.

I’m not sure how many seats there are in the theatre, but it was close to full. There were a few other seats free in the front row includig a couple next to me, and everyone was wearing a face-mask.

I overheard one person have a “discussion” when questioned why he wasn’t wearing a face-mask. Frankly, given the large number of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists in this area, I thought there might have been more.

“I have an exemption”, the man told the assistant. She replied asking him if he could prove that exemption, and when he said “No, I don’t have the paper”, she asked if he had it on his phone.

When he couldn’t produce that either, she firmly told him they would happily refund his ticket. I don’t know what happened after that, as it was time to head inside.

“Flow” is a very “North Coast” story, with lots of specific local references. The reference to pot-holes in the road in Lismore got quite a laugh.

As the centre of the play is the re-telling of a Yaegl creation story. Yaegl is south east of Lismore and encompasses Maclean, Yamba and Iluka. Both Mitch and Blake are Yaegl & Bundjalung. 

For the most part, Blake provides the music, while Mitch provides the narrative.

The creation story he tells explains the origins of some of the land-forms, particularly some of the river islands of the Clarence River.

There’s a very contemporary feel to the play, with both hip-hop and contemporary dance used throughout. I especially loved the music.

“It’s come a long way from what he first described on the verandah”, I overhead the woman behind me say with a real sense of elation at what she had seen. Obviously she must have known Mitch. There was a genuine buzz in the theatre last night.

The play also cleverly uses video clips featuring Yaegl elders, and I was especially excited to see someone I know featured in those clips, the artist Frances Belle-Parker.

I messaged her immediately on Facebook, and she replied that she had seen the play, on Thursday night and that “everyone was very proud of Mitch and Blake.”

Mitch King and Blake ‘Teddy’ Rhodes in a scene from NORPA’s ‘Flow’. Photo Tree Faerie. (The Echo)