DADDY THE 8TH

by Bill Reed

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DADDY THE 8TH

by Bill Reed

An ensemble of actors who are about to start rehearsing a play about the Moree race riots visit Endeavour Lane in Moree to get a feel of the lie of the land where a young Aboriginal 'Cheeky' McIntosh was shot and killed and two of his friends badly wounded during the infamous 1982 confrontation between whites and the local black population.

The leader/director/writer of the ensemble has a more intimate knowledge of the site. Back in 1982 he remembers playing cricket with his schoolmates using as a wicket a piece of the barricades the slain Aborigines were using just the week before.

While they mill around Endeavour Lane, an old man appears in the actors' midst, sits down and declares he is waiting for a bus (Endeavour Lane is a dead end) to take him to the murder trial of the three Whites charged with Cheeky's death. The old man is Daddy, a local Moree elder.

Is he out of his time? Is he trying to interfere with the ensemble's research, even the whole project? Is he what he is, and therefore they aren't what they are? They might learn which if any of them could understand what he is saying and however out-of-time he is doing there.

They do understand, though, that dabbling with the theatre is dabbling with illusion that can be more real than reality.

Still, they cannot understand why the Myall Creek Massacre of 1838 should keep cropping up in their 2016 lives when, for most of them, not a line of script has been written yet.

And which Daddy down the millennia are they dealing with here anyway?