Review: Cooked by Digi Youth Arts
Cooked by Digi Youth Arts
Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
25th-28th May 2022
Dr Gemma Regan
Tackling the thorny issues of sovereignty using witty talent and optimism with not a didgeridoo in sight!
Cooked is a multi media performance incorporating the dance, song and narration to examine the issues surrounding celebrating Invasion Day, commonly termed Australia Day and celebrated annually on January 26th. Indigenous youth associated with Digi Youth Arts and working with The Good Room use their performance to answer the questions about how they feel and why they march in protest against the celebration held on sovereign land.
It’s a day on which many Australian’s feel conflicted. They are proud to be Australian yet understand the ramifications of the injustice of taking the country by force from the Original people. An anonymous online survey asks three simple questions: How did you get to Australia; do you know any traditional names of locations in your city or town?; and why can’t we all be counted as one? The survey is still open and can be accessed here: https://meaningtoaskyou.com/cooked
The hour-long show was divided into three parts, beginning with the five performers reading excerpts of genuine answers accompanied by music and a large multi media screen presentation.The first part analysed the complex range of the answers from over 1400 people incorporating humour, compassion and optimism.
The simple yet effective set was stacked shipping crates from the settlers, including one labelled ‘Statue of Captain Cook’ which served as an allegory for the baggage we all carry with us and a necessity to unpack uncomfortable issues such as sovereignty. The performers comically boarded a crate to sail in search of undiscovered lands captained by a cockney James Cook, mimicking the landing on Posession Island.
Next followed a moving exploration of self-identity showcasing the talents of each performer through dance and music to an audio commentary of various personal experiences from immigrants and indigenous Australians.
The crowning glory was the final section bursting with ebullient energy and beginning with revised poignant rap lyrics to Gil Scott-Heron’s 1971 poem and song ‘The revolution will not be televised’. It was powerful yet optimistic and received by whistles, claps and cheers in solidarity from the audience.
Hot on the heels was a musical medley of popular songs cleverly reinterpreted with a Cooked sovereignty theme accenting the mantra always was, always will be. The infamous Backstreet Boys’ ‘Backstreet’s back’ was altered to ‘Blak Street’s Back.’ The audience favourite was the hilarious alternative to ‘Spice up your life’ from the Spice Girls replacing the lyrics ‘slam it to the left’ with ‘Aunties to the front’. It had the entire audience on their feet, clapping and cheering in appreciation of an entertaining show tackling the thorny issues of sovereignty using witty talent and optimism with not a didgeridoo in sight!
Cooked is a work about me and you. The both of us actually, and all the history in-between. This momentous show should be televised and performed around Australia as an educational tool.
It is part of QPAC’s Clancestry initiative running from the 13th-28th May with First Nations artists in a celebration of Country, including theatre, live music, storytelling, children’s shows and workshops. The Digi Youth Arts production was a show humorous, enlightening and optimistic start to Reconciliation Week.