All Aussie drama Red­fern Now.......................

An all-Abo­rig­i­nal drama, se­ries set in Red­fern, de­liv­ers a ‘mod­ern cor­ro­boree’, writes Holly Byrnes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - NEWS -

LEAH Pur­cell is a big-game player, a no-non­sense ac­tor, writer and di­rec­tor. Asked about her in­volve­ment in the cre­ation and pro­duc­tion of Red­fern Now, an all-Abo­rig­i­nal drama se­ries for ABC1, she says: ‘‘I was (in­dige­nous rugby league star) Johnathan Thurston out there. I had moves to make, set plays to de­liver. And it was all about team­work.’’

Red­fern Now, six sto­ries ex­plor­ing con­tem­po­rary in­ner city in­dige­nous life, fea­tures pow­er­ful story telling and re­mark­able per­for­mances from a cast led by Pur­cell, Deb­o­rah Mail­man, Jimi Bani and Kel­ton Pell.

Each episode tells the tale of a dif­fer­ent fam­ily ‘‘whose lives are changed by a mo­men­tary de­ci­sion, ac­ci­dent or in­signif­i­cant in­ci­dent’’.

The ground-break­ing op­por­tu­nity to tell their own sto­ries, like a ‘‘mod­ern cor­ro­boree’’ says Pur­cell, made her feel like an in­dige­nous foot­baller mak­ing an Aus­tralian or State Of Ori­gin team for the first time.

‘‘There was a re­spon­si­bil­ity that we were out there rep­re­sent­ing,’’ she says. ‘‘I think it’s the most ma­ture act­ing I’ve done,’’ she says.

In the launch episode Fam­ily, Pur­cell plays Grace, whose hus­band and chil­dren are pre­par­ing to go on a hol­i­day when she re­ceives a des­per­ate phone call from her sis­ter’s son, who says his mother is hav­ing a break­down.

Torn be­tween her duty as wife and mother and step­ping up to help her ex­tended clan, Pur­cell de­liv­ers a per­for­mance of quiet des­per­a­tion.

The TV project was a joint pro­duc­tion be­tween the ABC and the In­dige­nous depart­ment of Screen Aus­tralia, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with cre­ator and writer Jimmy McGovern. But it was ul­ti­mately left to lo­cal tal­ent to see the sto­ries through to screening.

Pur­cell jokes: ‘‘It was time to see if we could prove that we’re as deadly as we say we are. I be­lieve we have.’’

Asked why it has taken so long for such a pro­gram to air, she is frank.

‘‘I don’t think we would have been ex­pe­ri­enced enough to do this 20 years ago. We had to earn our stripes and learn. This is as black as it’s go­ing to get,’’ she says.

Red­fern Now: Thurs­day, 8.30pm, ABC1.

Leah Pur­cell.

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