Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor
imageJurassica is a cross-generational exploration of migration, displacement, alienation and the search for home. Jodie Hutchinson/Red Stitch

The play Jurassica, currently being performed at St Kilda Theatre in Melbourne, begins with “the rumble of a dinosaur’s steps”.

We soon realise, however, that no T-Rex is going to appear in front of us and this isn’t a play about prehistoric animals. Instead, Jurassica tells the story of Ralph and Sara, Italian immigrants who left Tuscany in the 1950s as part of the “populate or perish” scheme and built a new life in Australia.

Written by award-winning playwright Dan Giovannoni, it follows the couple’s son Ichlis and their 20-year-old grandson, Luca. There is also Kaja, an interpreter who fled war-torn Belgrade in the 1990s, who is called in to help Luca reconnect with his grandfather after he suffers a stroke.

Luca speaks English and almost no Italian. Unlike his grandparents, he’s not overwhelmed by the challenges of integration. He doesn’t face the dilemmas of cultural disorientation endured by his father either. As with other third-generation immigrants, he is confronted with the choice to maintain or forget his ethnic heritage.

Ralph, as a dinosaur, speaks incorrect English and embarrasses his son and grandson with his outdated views. Yet he is the keeper of family memories and stories that, when he dies, will vanish.

Interlacing past and present, Jurassica is a cross-generational exploration of migration, displacement, alienation and the search for home. It is a humorous portrait of an Italian-Australian family where three generations of men confront each other with their fears and uncertainties.

imageOlga Makeeva and Edward Orton in Jurassica.Jodie Huntchinson

Dinosaur footsteps, we’re told, as they recur throughout the play, are the sound of

your our entire past flashing before your eyes.

Stories of Italian migration on stage

Migration was a frequently explored theme both in repertoire and in innovative theatrical performance in Australia in the 1980s. The stage, in these works, became a shared space in which themes of alienation and discoveries of other selves and possibilities could be explored.

A respectable presence of works (in Italian, dialect or mixed language) were also devoted to the existential problems faced by Italian immigrants. Plays such as Windows by Pino Bosi (at the Stage Company of Adelaide in 1978), or Victoria Market (Genesis of a Myth): A Three Act Play (1981) and Villaggio Paradiso (1983) by Nino Randazzo, dealt with first-generation immigrants’ nostalgia, alienation, difficult parental relationships, communication problems, and with the Italian stereotypes among Australians.

The generational gap and bilingualism were predominantly tackled by the second generation as in Tony Giurissevich’s Mogli e buoi dai paesi tuoi (1981), in the works by Teresa Crea and John Bono, and in the projects by Tania Mastroianni such as Emma (1998) and Italian Stories (1999), just to mention a few.

It is, however, the work of the professional company Doppio Teatro, created in 1983 by Teresa Crea and Christopher Bell, that leaves a significant mark in Italian immigrant theatre.

By using three languages – English, Italian, and a synthetic migrant dialect it called “Emigrante” – Doppio Teatro explored, in particular, the impact of Australia’s assimilationist propaganda on the migrant’s self-concept.

Fear of language loss and identity, relationship across generations and the traumatic experience of immigrants revisiting their former homeland where covered in the successful Un Pugno di Terra (A Fistful of Earth), in 1985 and Ricordi (Memories) in 1989.

imageOlka Makeeva in Jurassica.Jodie Hutchinson.

The latter explored, similarly to Jurassica, the processes of cultural change affecting three generations of migrant Italian women. Doppio Teatro continued to represent the histories, cultural particularities and immigrant experiences in a sophisticated and highly professional manner throughout the 1990s.

Looking back in order to look forward

Jurassica is, thus, the expression of a generation with mixed cultural background feeling a sense of disconnect with their heritage and their grandparents with whom they do not really share a language or aspects of their culture anymore.

Paris Herbert-Taylor’s Concrete Moments (at the Italian Forum Cultural Centre for the 2011 The Sydney Fringe) and the amateur one act play A Different Telling by the young Leisa Whyte at the Museo Italiano, Co.As.It (Melbourne) in September this year, are other examples of recent attempts of young playwrights to understand family past and roots.

They also look inside the hardships people go through in their transition from one place, culture and language to another. It is certainly a desire for a continuity with and a fear of loss of a distant past. At the same time it is a recognition of migrant experience as part of a more generally human condition which, in one way or the other, we all live.

The past, with its low rumbles, heavy footsteps returns periodically to remind us of our roots and hybrid identities, or, in Ralph’s words:

Maybe really is dinosauro in a cupboard, you never bloody look inside, how you know?

Jurassica is at Red Stitch until November 9, details here.

Giorgia Alu does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/dinosaurs-on-stage-jurassica-continues-australias-proud-lineage-of-italian-migration-stories-49199

Writers Wanted

StickyWilds Casino Review


Guide to the classics: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier — gender, gothic haunting and gaslighting


Food, tools and medicine: 5 native plants that illuminate deep Aboriginal knowledge


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

What Few People Know About Painters

What do you look for when renting a house? Most potential tenants look for the general appearance of a house. If the house is poorly decorated, they are likely to turn you off. A painter Adelaide ...

News Co - avatar News Co

Important Instagram marketing tips

Instagram marketing is one of the most important approaches for digital advertisers. If you want to promote products online, then Instagram along with Facebook is the perfect option. After Faceboo...

News Co - avatar News Co

Top 3 Accident Law Firms of Riverside County, CA

Do you live in Riverside County and faced an accident and now looking for a trusted Law firm to present your case? If yes, then you have come to the right place. The purpose of the article is to...

News Co - avatar News Co

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion