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The Bleeding Tree - Blue Room Theatre

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
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A powerful exploration of grief, abuse and rage
The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cerini Blue Room Theatre
Angus Cerini's award-winning play The Bleeding Tree takes a close look at victims of domestic violence

Angus Cerini's award-winning play, The Bleeding Tree, made its West Australian premiere at the Blue Room Theatre on Tuesday, 23 November 2021. In this bold reimagining of Cerini's play, a cast of First Nations people star in the gothic fairytale set in the Australian bush. The show marks the directorial debut of Ian Michael, a Noongar man, and an actor, playwright and theatre-maker from Western Australia. Ian Michael is a Resident Artist at the Black Swan Theatre Company of WA. He was co-writer of York (Black Swan, 2021) and an actor in the productions Cloudstreet (Black Swan, 2020), Let The Right One In (Black Swan, 2017), HART (She Said Theatre, 2015) and Blak Cabaret (Malthouse Theatre, 2015). The show stars Karla Hart (Noongar), Ebony McGuire (Noongar) and Abbie-Lee Lewis (Kalkadoon).

The Bleeding Tree tells the story of a mother and her two daughters who have spent years suffering domestic abuse at the hands of a violent man. After feeling ignored for years, the women decide to take revenge against their tormentor, with a crack in the shins and a bullet in the neck. After the deed is done, the traumatised women are faced with a horrible dilemma. How should they dispose of the body?

The Bleeding Tree has been described as a murder ballad and as a gothic tale of revenge. The play, which is set in a rural Australian town, examines the justice system, violence against women, and how society frequently fails to protect women and children from domestic violence. The Bleeding Tree contains coarse language, simulated gunshots, and references to domestic violence, abuse, and sexual assault.

Angus Cerini is a multi-award-winning writer, performer and theatre maker. The Bleeding Tree was published by Currency Press in 2015. It received critical acclaim and went on to win a number of prestigious awards. The Bleeding Tree had its world premiere at the Griffin Theatre Company in Sydney in 2015. The play went on to win three Helpmann Awards and four Green Room Awards. The Bleeding Tree has since gone on to be performed in several Australian cities. In an interview with Magazine6000, Ian Michael spoke about The Bleeding Tree, and how it resonated with him. He felt drawn to the characters and gripped by Cerini's words. It made him reflect on his own childhood and the moments of violence that have affected the women in his life. He considers it to be one of the best plays to come out of the country.

The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cerini Blue Room Theatre
Karla Hart, Abbie-Lee Lewis and Ebony McGuire star in The Bleeding Tree

I thought that Karla Hart, Abbie-Lee Lewis and Ebony McGuire were amazing in this show. Their acting and teamwork was phenomenal. Together, the three of them held the entire audience under their thrall, which I thought was impressive. This was such a complex, demanding piece of theatre. Due to the bare-bones set, the women played with poetic language to describe their situation, which added to the emotion and horror. They spent a lot of the show describing in vivid detail the rotting body of their tormentor as he hung bleeding from a tree and how it made them feel. The language was so graphic at times, it made me wince more than once. I thought that Karla Hart gave a fantastic performance as the matriarch of the group. She was so angry and hurt at all the abuse they suffered, but also at how their neighbours ignored their misery until the worst-case scenario occurred.

The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cerini Blue Room Theatre
The Bleeding Tree examines how society responds to violence against women and makes a strong argument to reconfigure our justice system

The set and costume design was done by Tyler Hill. The set consisted of four wooden lattice walls which surrounded the women on all sides. It was a simple set that worked really well. For too long, the women felt trapped and isolated from the outside world, stuck in an abusive home situation that everyone knew about but wouldn't help them escape. This is what the walls are meant to evoke: a cage. After they kill their abuser, the walls around the women become even more claustrophobic, surrounding them like a jail cell. Chloe Ogilvie (Yamatji Nanda) did a great job with the lighting design. I liked her use of shadow, how light would shine through the cracks of the lattice, and how she used light to symbolize the women agreeing to bury their tormentor and start again with their lives. It's a new dawn for them.

The Bleeding Tree by Angus Cerini Blue Room Theatre
A mother and her daughters bury the memory of their tormentor

The Bleeding Tree is showing at the Blue Room Theatre until Saturday, 11 December 2021. The show runs for 60 minutes and is suitable for people 15 years and older. Ticket prices are $30.00 for adults and $25.00 for concession. Information about session times is available on the Blue Room Theatre's website. To secure tickets for The Bleeding Tree, click here.

* Marisa Quinn-Haisu was invited as a guest

Pictured: Bonnie Michael (1), Karla Hart, Abbie-Lee Lewis and Ebony McGuire (2,3,4). Photos credit: Duncan Wright (1), Tashi Hall (2,3,4).
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Why? A cast of First Nations people transform Angus Cerini’s award-winning play, The Bleeding Tree, into a powerful and heartbreaking piece of theatre.
When: Tuesday, 23 November 2021 to Saturday, 11 December 2021
Where: The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge WA
Cost: Full price $30.00, Concession $25.00
Your Comment
Sounds like a stellar performance
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|3933) 52 days ago
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