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Whitefella Yella Tree

2023 - Shortlisted


Judges' Comments

In the early 19th century, two teenage boys, one a warrior of the Mountain Mob and one a storyteller of the River Mob, meet under the strange new whitefellas tree with yellow fruit — a lemon tree — to share knowledge of those who have landed on the shore. Friendship turns to romance. Life-changing decisions are made. 

This play is a revelation. It tells a remarkable story of Country, Blak queerness and the poisoning effects of colonialism. It draws a clear distinction between the queer-friendly environment of Indigenous life and the shame-filled society of the invaders. The characters are beautifully drawn, and even though we’re in the early 1800s, the boys sound like they’re from ‘now’ — a considerable achievement. Plot is always driven by character, and the impacts of colonialism are seen on them in ways that are deeply felt and very moving. This is a superbly woven play, telling a story that needs to be told.