Staged Representations of Négritude: Aboriginality and White Supremacy in Jane Harrison’s Stolen

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Early performances of indigeneity in Australian theatre reveal an underpinning ideology of white European settler control and emphasise the shared beliefs which validate white dominance over the real and the imagined non-white counterparts. This ideology of power, staged through theatrical performances, reflected and supported the actual discriminatory practices against Aborigines in the different spheres of everyday life in Australia. In the early stages, performances were not mere adaptations of the local conditions, but rather a discourse taking part in the colonisation of Aboriginal Australians. This article studies the impact of the European settler State policies in Australia in Jane Harrison’s Stolen (1998). The paper examines the severe ramifications of colonial practices such as assimilation, discrimination and racism on modern day Aboriginal Australians, particularly the Stolen Generation. Within a theoretical framework that rests on Léopold Sédar Senghor’s and Aimé Césaire’s notion of Négritude, the study analyzes the staged representations of blackness, Aboriginality and white supremacy in the play. The analysis further endeavors to show how the playwright renegotiates past experiences of pain as a means for modern day acceptance of the inevitable hybridity that results from contact between Aborigines and white Australia and the role Aborigine theatre has played within post-colonial discourse. Directed by Wesley Enoch, and written by Jane Harrison, Stolen, remains one of the most significant first Australian drama performances written and directed by Aboriginal Australians.