25 February, 2021
To Kill A Cassowary: Man and Bird Re-United
AFTER a self-proclaimed ‘horrible year’ which saw theatres close throughout the country, one of Australia’s greats, actor Steven Tandy is happy to be back in Cairns for the remounted season of JUTE Theatre Company’s acclaimed production, To Kill A Cassowary.
In his long and eventful career spanning half a century, Tandy, who became a household name during the late seventies, early eighties playing Tom Sullivan in Crawford Productions’ period drama The Sullivans, says this was the longest ever stretch he had been off the stage.
“It was just awful for our industry and the arts in general,” Mr Tandy said.
With the exception of Josie’s character, who this year is played by Paula Nazarski, the original 2020 cast and crew has reassembled today in the studio of Bulmba-ja for an intense, two-week rehearsal phase.
After a standing ovation for its world premiere and one further show, JUTE’s maiden season of To Kill A Cassowary in March last year was prematurely cut short as the country was thrust into lockdown.
JUTE Theatre Company’s Artistic Director and CEO Suellen Maunder said calling a halt to last year’s performance season of To Kill A Cassowary was heartbreaking.
“To Kill A Cassowary was very much ‘unfinished business’ and here we are a year down the track with the great fortune of being able to pick up where we left off.
“JUTE’s culture and resilience has never been more evident, and I could not think of a more perfect way to celebrate the start of our 30th year of operation than with a remount of To Kill a Cassowary,” Ms Maunder said.
Written by Mission Beach local and JUTE’s Write Sparks alumnus, Laurie Trott, To Kill A Cassowary is a story about place, family inheritance and the interwoven issues of this small, tropical rainforest community.
According to Laurie, To Kill A Cassowary applies a good deal of warmth and wit to highlight its more serious themes of legacy, ageism and environmental heritage.
“This is an engaging and entertaining play of our times and one that focusses predominantly on relationships – relationships not just between people but the land and sea on which we live,” Ms Trott said.
“For me, writing To Kill a Cassowary was as much about creativity as communication and using the stage to promote public awareness about the urgent need to preserve and conserve the Cassowary Coast.
“Where possible I have included reference to some of the many threats to biodiversity including introduced species, habitat modification and loss, unsustainable development, tourism and climate change,” she said.
From a ramshackle verandah in the rainforest, To Kill a Cassowary, directed by the award winning Bridget Doyle, is a colourful story about an ageing conservationist father, Amos (played by Steven Tandy) and his pro-development daughter, Paula (played by Natalie Taylor) who are ready to do battle over a patch of paradise found, also known as the Cassowary Coast. Throwing a spanner in the works is neighbour, Josie (played by Quandamooka woman, Paula Nazarski) and a rich natural setting abounding in flora and fauna - and the elu.