Rachel Fensham – ‘Your white meat is DONE!’: animation and the future in Nakkiah Liu’s Blackie Blackie Brown


Rachel Fensham

University of Melbourne

‘Your white meat is DONE!’: animation and the future in Nakkiah Liu’s Blackie Blackie Brown

Indigenous theatre is becoming mainstream, with shows written, produced and directed by Indigenous writers and directors regularly on television and in our major theatres. And as a result there is a diversification of the genres, concerns, characters and narratives being presented even as slow steps are taken towards any political shift in the reality of outcomes for indigenous Australians. How then might the aesthetics of Indigenous theatre in Australia contribute to a decolonising of the future, one of the conference provocations? 

Utilising black performance theory (Moten, DeFrantz and Gonzalez) and the imaginative potentiality of Afro-futurism (Eshun and Womack), this paper examines the animation of a decolonised future in Nakkiah Liu’s work, Blackie Blackie Brown (2018 and 2019). The paper arises from my thinking about the role that movement plays as a form of animation in performance for a forthcoming book. Animation, in the words of philosopher Jeff Malpas, has a double action, of seeming to move and ‘being seen to move in the movement’. In analysis of Blackie Blackie Brown, I argue that this double movement enables indigenous theatre to move away from the oppressive race relations of the past and of everyday reality in white Australia, towards a future that is seen from a stance in which that real is obliterated. Drawing comparisons with the artworks of Brook Andrew, Blackie Blackie Brown thus breaks new ground in its reach towards a form of theatre that borrows from popular culture, science fiction and fantasy to create a decolonised, fragmented and tensile, yet absurd and funny, representation of a future Australia. 

Malpas. J. (2014). ‘With a Philosopher’s Eye: a ‘Naïve’ View on Animation’, Animation: an interdisciplinary journal, Vol. 9 (1): 65-79. 

Rachel Fensham is Director of the Digital Studio, and a Professor of Dance and Theatre (Melbourne). With a track record in curating performance archives, most recently the Theatre and Dance Platform, she has recently developed CIRCUIT: a mapping tool for the ARC project, Creative Convergence: Enhancing Impact in Regional Theatre for Young People. She has a forthcoming book with Bloomsbury, entitled Movement in the Theory of Theatre Studies series, and is also series co-editor for New World Choreographies (Palgrave).