Dharug language will be heard for the first time by an international audience when the stage adaptation of Kate Grenville's award-winning novel 'Secret River' goes on tour in the United Kingdom, with shows in Edinburgh and London.

30 July 2019

Rehearsals by the Sydney Theatre Company are underway for the stage play about two families divided by culture and land.

It tells the story of William Thornhill, who arrives in New South Wales as a convict from the slums of London. His family's new home offers him something he hadn't dared to dream of—a place to call his own, on the banks of the Hawkesbury River.

However this is already home to a Dharug family, whose existence depends on that land. As Thornhill's attachment to the land deepens, he is driven to a terrible decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

The world premiere of the performance in 2013 was described in the Sunday Telegraph as 'a stunning, shattering piece of theatre that goes to the heart of our history'.

Given it's the International Year of Indigenous Languages it is a wonderful opportunity to share Dharug language.

Playwright Andrew Bovell has worked closely with language consultant Richard Green to give voice to the Dharug family. Richard has also shared a Dharug language reference guide for the actors and production crew.

The production involves a touring party of more than 40 Australian actors, creatives and crew.

'This is tremendously exciting for Sydney Theatre Company and for the cast,' said Sydney Theatre Company's Artistic Director Kip Williams. 'It has been the company's hope to take The Secret River to where Kate Grenville's novel begins. We're very interested to see how audiences in the UK will react to this powerful Australian story.'

The project is supported by the Australia Council's Major Festivals Initiative and the play will be performed in the King's Theatre, in Edinburgh, from 2–11 August and the National Theatre, in London, from 22 August to 7 September 2019.

Photo by Heidrun Löhr, showing Ningali Lawford-Wolf, Georgia Adamson, Nathaniel Dean and Colin Moody in Sydney Theatre Company's The Secret River.

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