Drama recreates life of Frank Archibald

Published 10 July 2008

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A documentary drama written and directed by Barbara Albury, an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in UNE’s School of Arts, will be a highlight of NAIDOC Week celebrations in Armidale this week.

Who is Frank Archibald? will be performed tomorrow (Friday 11 July) at 11.30 am in Armidale Town Hall. It will follow the annual march by Aboriginal people through the streets of Armidale. Entry to the 30-minute drama is free.

Who is Frank Archibald? explores issues of race, assimilation and reconciliation in the 1950s and ’60s by focusing on the life of Frank Archibald, an Elder of the Gumbainggir people and a revered member of Armidale’s Aboriginal community, who died in 1975.

“Frank Archibald became a symbol of hope for his people,” Ms Albury said. “He was a strong advocate for Aboriginal rights, and believed that education was the way forward for Aboriginal people. His vision and courage as a spokesman for his people are recognised in the annual Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture held in his honour at the UNE Oorala Centre.” (This year’s lecture is at 7.30 this evening. See the posting on this Web site for Thursday 3 July.)

The play was originally commissioned by Daisy William, Director of the Aboriginal and Regional Cultural Centre and Keeping Place, as one of a series of short plays depicting the history of Armidale.

“The production is a blend of documentary information, the original songs of Frank Archibald, traditional Aboriginal children’s dances, and projected images depicting the ’50s and ’60s,” Ms Albury said. “The documentary information was gathered from newspaper cuttings, published literature, and a recorded interview with Gracie Gordon, Frank Archibald’s last living child.”

The cast of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal actors includes two UNE students: Lesley Vale and Methuen Morgan.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Shane Levy in the role of Frank Archibald.