Freedom Ride… I Have A Dream
The world premiere of Freedom Ride…I Have A Dream attracted project funding from the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council, the only Australia Council funding La Boite’s mainhouse program received in 1993.
Written by Sue Rider and Michael Whelan, directed by Jim Vilé and indigenous artist Kathryn Fisher with music composed by Michael Whelan, the play’s cast of performers were from diverse cultural backgrounds including Aboriginal, Nigerian, New Zealand, Colombian, Papua New Guinean, French Cameroon and Italian.
This music theatre piece juxtaposed the story of Martin Luther King and the American Freedom Ride of 1955 with the little known Charles Perkins-inspired Australian Freedom Ride of 1965. Perkins (1936-2000) was a highly influential aboriginal leader who campaigned for aboriginal civil rights throughout his life. Whilst it attracted a pleasing response from Murri audiences and widespread critical interest, attendance was generally low.[i] It was seen, nevertheless, as the kind of programming that set La Boite well apart from QTC. As critic Mary Nemeth commented: “The presentation of multi-cultural work in our mainstream theatre is really in its infancy, and this precocious child at La Boite is surely on the road to a more mature social as well as cultural Australian future”.[ii] And Adrian Kiernander writing in The Australian commended its contemporary relevance and risk-taking: “New plays which deal with issues of immediate social importance are rare and to be valued. Sue Rider’s Freedom Ride is an astute and passionate script which addresses the perennially tender and currently hypersensitive question of black-white relations in Australia”.[iii]
Writer: Christine Comans