Death, grief, trauma, humanity and hope will detonate on the stage in the coming-of-age story Man with the Iron Neck, performed by Australia’s premier physical theatre company Legs on the Wall, and soon to be showcased at the 2019 Adelaide Festival.

The vivid performance examines a small AFL-mad community in central west NSW.

Man with the Iron Neck playwright Ursula Yorvich, said the story examines the humanity and reality for the Indigenous family it centres around.

“When you come into the theatre it’s about practising your empathy. This family are like every other family. Through visual dialogue, we touch on subjects like intergenerational trauma and what history has dealt us in regard to colonisation.”

Yorvich, who also plays the role of Rose in the production, said the piece delves deep into issues such as the suicide of Indigenous people and the need for all people to instigate change.

“It’s important we start talking about it. We should be ashamed at the rate our young people are dying, committing suicide, and at their young ages as well … I don’t know why we’re not up in arms about this as a nation. I think we need to start talking about it and ask why this is happening.”

Man with the Iron Neck is a dark piece; its themes confronting.

Yorvich hopes the non-Indigenous audience can empathise with and understand the experiences First Nations people go through regularly.

“What I would like them to take away from this is a sense that no matter how dark things get, there’s always some kind of hope, there’s always something we can do, we can be more aware of the issues, we can be more proactive, we can be more compassionate, be willing to listen and be open. I want people to empathise and really just be in our shoes for an hour.”

Yorvich also hopes that Indigenous people watching the show can reflect on their own experiences in life.

“You gotta understand for our own mob, sometimes having something spelt out for you, if you don’t know what’s going on, it can be a great thing as well. We are born into it and sometimes when amongst it, it’s really hard to separate away from that.”

Yorvich said the piece isn’t about pointing fingers, rather about bringing forward an uncomfortable experience to challenge and confront the audience to take action and make change.

Creating the story with Legs on the Wall, in a physical theatre form, enables the story to flow freely between reality and dreamscapes.

“The physical aspect, it’s more about connecting with the audience—it affects you more when you can see it.”

Legs on the Wall has begun working with Balunu Foundation in Northern Territory.

Their program focuses on teaching high risk kids ways to deal with trauma. David Cole, Legs on the Wall performer, is bringing a healing session from this program into the theatre space.

The session, a water bowl workshop, will take place after the matinee show on Saturday 10th March and is open to all people.

“People should be aware of it and join in and take part, because it could be useful for everybody, not just us mob. No matter where you’ve grown up, or what your background is, we all carry some kind of trauma,” Yurvich said.

Man with the Iron Neck is based upon original work by Josh Bond andwill launch as part of the Adelaide Festival running between the 1stand 17thof March.

By Rachael Knowles