No hiding the message in Chopped Liver

July 19, 2017

Performers Gregory J Fryer and Nazaree Dickerson will appear in Chopped Liver today.

A production tackling a serious yet stigmatised issue within many indigenous communities, Chopped Liver is told through the eyes of two Aboriginal people.

The story follows Lynne and Jim through their lives — working, protesting, partying and having families — but ultimately sheds a harsh light on the reality of hepatitis C.

Written in 2006, the play has been watched by more than 10000 people in more than 150 communities, schools and prisons across the country, and has now made a comeback to highlight the improved treatment available for sufferers of hepatitis C.

Funded by the Victorian Government, the production uses official informative references combined with the creative juices of the Ilbijerri Theatre Company.

Playwright and director Kamarra Bell-Wykes said there was a tough line between producing an informative yet powerful production and becoming yet another ‘‘pamphlet’’.

‘‘For me as a writer it was about working out what the story is and who were the best people suited to carry that, who the audience will relate to,’’ Ms Bell-Wykes said.

‘‘You want to be able to get the health messages across, but you also want it to be a realistic, interesting situation that won’t fall flat.’’

Ms Bell-Wykes has managed to write a piece which takes viewers on a strong emotional journey, as well as exposing them to the dangerous reality of hepatitis C within indigenous communities.

Federal Government research places hepatitis C at the forefront of one of the many health issues facing indigenous Australians, although it is often stigmatised or ignored.

The disease involves the inflammation of the liver and has many causes, including viral infection, alcohol or drug abuse, and the body’s immune system attacking itself.

‘‘Certainly I think the show has had an impact on awareness,’’ Ms Bell-Wykes said.

‘‘Information doesn’t really get expressed effectively in a pamphlet for Aboriginal people, it’s not the way they absorb information.

‘‘With the Ilbijerri approach, it’s real, it’s live, it’s in front of you and that has a much more effective impact because of the emotions involved and the connections that can be made to a character or story.’’

Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-Operative will host Chopped Liver in Mooroopna at 2pm today.

For information, email Natalie.Visentin@raclimited.com.au

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