NT bushman’s story told through theatre

WE (Bill) Harney, image courtesy of University of Queensland.

WE (Bill) Harney, image courtesy of University of Queensland.

Story-telling theatre production Bilarni, based on the life of NT identity Bill Harney, will be performed at the Godinymayin Centre on Saturday, September 15 at 2pm.

Written and performed by Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky, Bilarni tracks the life of WE (Bill) Harney (1895-1962) - the greatest yarn-spinner of them all and the man who was known Australia wide as the ‘expert’ on Aborigines.

Scripted from Harney’s many books, radio broadcasts and personal papers, as well as Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky’s research journeys, Bilarni tells of an ‘uneducated’ NT bushman who returned from World War One to live among Aborigines: as a lover, husband and father who lost it all.

And that’s only the beginning of a truly epic tale where Bill Harney became known around the world as the ‘Custodian of the Rock’ (Uluru).

Never a life of comfort, at times shocking, full of joy and suffering, and mirthful, erudite, sharp and ironic in the telling, Bilarni puts black-white relationships at the heart of Australian identity – including dealing with allegations of Harney as murderer and bringing onto the stage Bill Harney’s publicly unacknowledged Wardaman son, Yidumduma Bill Harney.

Jan 'Yarn' Wositzky performing in Bilarni. Picture: supplied.

Jan 'Yarn' Wositzky performing in Bilarni. Picture: supplied.

“Bilarni will be a wonderful opportunity for people from the Katherine region to come and learn more about this fascinating man who had such an impact on our region and the Northern Territory. We look forward to presenting this storytelling masterpiece that has delighted and moved audiences across Australia,” Poppy Searle, director of the Godinymayin Arts and Culture Centre, said.

The performance runs for 80 minutes with no interval. It contains some coarse language and is not suitable for children under 12.

Tickets can be purchased at www.gyracc.org.au Adult $25 Concession $20.