Debut lead packs a power punch
PERTH-born Clarence Ryan told his mum he wanted to be an actor when he was 10 years old.
“Fortunately she supported me in that and took me to acting classes and basically gave me the strength I needed,” Ryan said.
Had it been the era when Geoffrey ‘Barker Bulldog’ Narkle was the same age, Ryan’s story would be very different.
Narkle was part of the Stolen Generation, removed from his family and raised on Wandering Mission before travelling the South-West as a tent boxer with Stewart’s Boxing Troupe during the ’60s.
Narkle and David Milroy collaborated to write Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s 1997 production KingHit, inspired by Narkle’s jour- ney, remounted this month with Ryan ( Lockie Leonard, September) making his theatre debut in the lead role.
“Geoffrey was around for the 1997 play but has since passed away,” 22-year-old Ryan said.
“It would have been lovely to meet him because I’ve been told he was a sweet man in his later years, very much into God and he’d put all his anger behind him; he had no more time for that.
“He had a very hard life and I think it’s great that they made it into a play and hopefully one day will adapt it into a feature film.”
Ryan said studying about the Stolen Generation was far different to experiencing it and this encore season of King Hit, directed by Kyle J Morrison, was testa- ment to Narkle’s amazing story.
“It builds up through his life to when he is in old age after everyone has passed away and he’s left alone telling his story,” Ryan said.
“He’s been too sad for too long and just wants to be happy. I love that someone can have that mentality after all those years, especially those teenage years when you want your father and mother there, and he never had those.”
Clarence Ryan will star as Geoffrey ‘Barker Bulldog’ Narkle in Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s King Hit.