Red­fern Now

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - FEATURE STORY - LEAH PUR­CELL

Ac­cord­ing to award- win­ning ac­tress, di­rec­tor and play­wright Leah Pur­cell, the crit­i­cally ac­claimed ABC drama Red­fern Now won over “au­di­ences across the board” when it pre­miered in 2012. The se­ries, telling a di­verse ar­ray of in­dige­nous sto­ries set in the Syd­ney sub­urb of the ti­tle, con­nected with view­ers of all races, says Pur­cell. “And that’s ex­actly what we wanted to achieve – uni­ver­sal sto­ries ev­ery­one can re­late to and that show our strengths and abil­i­ties and per­spec­tive.” Now Red­fern Now has re­turned for a sec­ond six- episode sea­son, with Pur­cell writ­ing and di­rect­ing “Con­se­quences”, air­ing Thurs­day, Novem­ber 21.

Leah, what is your Red­fern Now episode “Con­se­quences” about? What were its ori­gins?

It was ac­tu­ally in­spired by [ se­ries pro­ducer] Jimmy McGovern, and what he wanted out of us as writ­ers. One of his big pushes was “story, story, story”. You know, not sit­u­a­tions or cir­cum­stances but sto­ries.

And this story is about a young Abo­rig­i­nal woman, a high achiever, who re­ceives a PhD and essen­tially goes home to gloat to her es­tranged fa­ther, who is white. She finds out that he’s dead, though, and from there it’s her jour­ney to make it and her­self known to his fam­ily.

Is much of the story based on your per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences or of peo­ple you know or have met?

It was re­ally in­ter­est­ing be­cause when I brought the sub­ject up there were peo­ple in the group who knew of peo­ple in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances. It’s great to know you’re not alone in a story. It then gains its own life- force and grows.

Was the Red­fern Now writ­ing ini­tia­tive some­thing new to you?

I never trained in any­thing. I just free- fall and dive right in. And Jimmy and the other Red­fern Now ed­i­tors hooked onto that. They said “Here’s a sto­ry­teller. She may not know the rules but there’s some­thing in there”. So I learned along the way.

What does a project like this one mean to Aus­tralia’s in­dige­nous cre­ative com­mu­nity?

It’s ab­so­lutely awe­some. There’s so much pride and so much de­ter­mi­na­tion, and Red­fern Now is sup­posed to hap­pen now. It’s taken 20 years of ini­tia­tives to earn our stripes and be where we are to­day. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for em­ploy­ment. We’ve long been ca­pa­ble of telling our own sto­ries. We wanted to make Red­fern Now uni­ver­sal, just sprin­kled with a lit­tle black pep­per. Red­fern Now, ABC1, tonight, 8.30pm. Leah Pur­cell’s episode, Novem­ber 21.

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