Harrison, Jane 1960-
HARRISON, Jane 1960-
Born 1960, in Victoria, Australia.
Formerly worked as an advertising copywriter; Ilbijerri Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Theatre Cooperative, North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, playwright, 1998—; Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia, teacher of cultural studies to indigenous performing arts students.
Kate Challis RAKA Award (co-winner), 2002, for Stolen.
Stolen (play; first produced in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, at Playbox Theatre, 1998), Currency Press (Sydney, Australia)/Playbox Theatre Centre (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1998.
Rainbow's End (play; also known as Rumbalara), produced at Melbourne Museum Sidney Myer Amphitheatre, 2005.
(Adapter) Walkabout (musical play), produced in Australia by Chamber Made, 2005.
Contributor to Many Voices, Reflections on Experiences of Indigenous Child Separation, National Library, (Canberra, Australia), 2002.
Australian playwright Jane Harrison is a descendent of the Muruwari people, and her Aboriginal heritage is reflected in much of her writing. Harrison was raised in the Victorian Dandenogs, then went on to become an advertising copywriter in Melbourne. When she was laid off, however, she answered an advertisement for the Ilbijerri Theatre Company, which was looking for writers but did not require applicants to have experience writing plays. She looked at it as an opportunity not just to branch out into a new creative form, but as a chance to incorporate her heritage into her work. Through her writing for the Ilbijerri, she considers herself a member of the indigenous community. In an interview for ABC.net, Harrison remarked: "The whole issue of identity, it's what I feel when I'm with my people. It's a strong sense of belonging that is kind of deep. I get very fired up about issues. I'm not a terribly political person but I feel a very strong emotional connection to those issues. I want to do my little bit to help educate people and to help people acknowledge that history."
Harrison's first play, Stolen, took six years to research and write. It tells the story of five Aboriginal children taken from their families and placed in institutions. The play premiered in Melbourne in 1998 and has since been produced all over the world. Rainbow's End, Harrison's follow-up work, is about indigenous heroes of the 1950s. Reviewer Helen Thompson, writing for the Age, remarked that the play "fulfills expectations of high-quality, thought-provoking and emotionally powerful drama." ABC.net critic Kate Munro dubbed the play "a story of strength, family, changing attitudes, defiance, belief and progression."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Time International, July 10, 2000, "Truth Sadder Than Fiction: An Aboriginal Play about the 'Stolen Generation' Lays Bare a Shameful Chapter of Australian History," p. 156.
ABC.net, http://www.abc.net.au/ (August 3, 2005), Kate Munro, review of Rainbow's End.
Age,http://www.theage.com.au/ (February 21, 2005), Rachel Wells, "Pot of Gold at Rainbow's End"; (February 22, 2005), Helen Thompson, review of Rainbow's End.
Booked Out Web site,http://www.bookedout.com/ (October 9, 2006), biographical and play information on Jane Harrison.*