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Dr Rachael Maza Talks About Her Career And Restaging Of "Heart Is A Wasteland"

Dr Rachael Maza AM is widely known for her wealth of acting, directing, and dramaturgical experience across the Australian film, television and theatre industry. Most notably, the AFI (Australian Film Institute) award-winning Radiance, stage production of The Sapphires, presented for ABC’s Message Stick, and acting coach for multi-award winning Rabbit Proof Fence. Her performances have also been acknowledged with a Green Room Award and Sydney Theatre Critics Circle Award.

Rachael first worked with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company in 1992, as director of Stolen, and in 2008 joined the company as Artistic Director. Since then she has directed iconic works such as Jack Charles V The Crown (2010), Foley (2011), and Which Way Home (2017). Rachael’s contribution has been recognised through multiple awards, including the Touring Legend Drover Award, 2017 and the Australia Council of the Arts Award for Theatre (2019), as well as an Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from Edith Cowan University (2019).

Raye, a country-music star in the making, plays pub-to-pub along Australia’s vast desert highways, trying to make a living in the hope of returning home to her son, Elvis. But when she meets Dan, another young wanderer at the cross-roads of life, a love affair unfurls over a four-day drive to Alice Springs.

Heart is a Wasteland is a beautifully articulated, deeply human love story by John Harvey in which we meet Raye and Dan. With both characters running from individual pasts they can’t escape, I knew from the start it was critical that whoever played these delightfully messy personalities would need to tap into their humanity, warmth, and relatability. It reminds me of why I love theatre so much. Theatre is my weapon of choice–exploring narratives set to counter the two-dimensional stereotyped tropes of First Peoples – telling stories of our culture in all its diversity and complexity. Music is a strong third character in this production and musical director Gary Watling is simply superb. His artistry in realising Lydia Fairhall’s songs and his mastery in underscoring to set the mood, elevates the production to another level altogether. Our designer, Emily Barrie has created a dynamic space perfectly suited to Sean Bacon’s audio-visuals and complimented by Nik Pajanti’s stunning lighting. I could not be more proud of this team in bringing you Heart is a Wasteland.

Following a sell-out premiere season at Darwin Festival 2021, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s restaging of Heart is a Wasteland – directed by the company’s multi-award winning Artistic Director Rachael Maza – brings John Harvey’s humorous and deeply heartfelt script to life. With original music by Lydia Fairhall, exquisitely arranged by Gary Watling; freshly conceived sets and adventurous audio-visual design – this production brings Australia’s stunning outback right to the front – matched by the vitality of its new young leads. Heart is a Wasteland exposes a soul-warming battle of egos, recognising everyone’s individual right to love.

This season of Heart is a Wasteland is part of activities celebrating 30 years of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company giving voice to First Nations cultures through the ongoing creation of innovative works by First Nations artists.


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