Ilbijerri Theatre Company's 'Which Way Home' comes to Bendigo

Father son stories are a common foil for playwrights and performers.

Father and daughter relationships often get less airtime, however.

This is not the case for Which Way Home, which will soon be performed in Bendigo.

Playwright and actor Katie Beckett wrote the play for her father, after he suffered a series of heart-attacks. At the time, she was expecting to lose him.

It’s a simple story.  It begins with Tash turning up at her father’s house for a ten hour drive to their traditional country.

Trapped in a car together on the trip, they are forced to open up to each other, and begin to understand their relationship more deeply.

“The relationship between the dad and the daughter, that’s definitely true, that core element of love and unconditional love, and the mucking around,” Beckett said.

“It was just an open love letter to him to let him know how much I appreciate him.”

The story is not literally true. The characters are definitely not Ms Beckett and her father, she said, but the core relationship between father and daughter is true to life.

Beckett’s mother died young, and she was raised by her father.

Having drawn from her life for the play’s story, she has found a subtle shift in her relationship with her dad.

“After he’d seen my play, he’s seen how much I did miss [Mum],” she said. 

“I think we both have opened up a bit more to each other.”

Showing Tash’s father as just a normal dad, and a pretty good one at that, is a powerful counter story to the negative perceptions which abound about Indigenous men,  said director Rachel Maza.

“I’m actually personally sick of seeing stories about how we get massacred about our dysfunctions, the negative stories that are perpetuating,” she said.

“I want to see works that are actually strength based works, the stories that I want my kids to go and see, I want them to feel good about who they are.”

Maza has been astounded by how audiences connect to the narrative.

“The audience is so prepared to go on that journey,” Maza said. “It really fascinates me how intelligent we all are, and actually when you allow space for the audience to imagine with you.”

“It’s just blown me out how extraordinarily this play has connected with audiences of all ages and all backgrounds.”

  • Which Way Home will be performed at the Engine Room on June 13, at 1:30pm and 7:30pm