Jack Charles v the Crown
ILBIJERRI Theatre Company
DATES: 15-18 March, 2018
LOCATION: Q Theatre, Rangatira
Australian legend Uncle Jack Charles started life as a member of the Stolen Generation. He once said, “Plucked from my
mother’s breast, I grew up absolutely ignorant of my Aboriginal heritage.”
The indomitable rogue, now considered one of the Grandfathers of Australian First Nations theatre, will take the stand
at the Auckland Arts Festival in March with his captivating one-man show, Jack Charles V The Crown.
The play is Uncle Jack’s life story, and undeniably a key story of Australia’s too.
He was born in September 1943 at Cummeragunja Mission on the Murray River, where the Yorta Yorta people had been forced
to live in a reservation by the ‘Aboriginal Protection Board’ since 1915.
Charles was forcibly taken from his mother and ended up at a boys’ home where he was the only resident Aboriginal child
and suffered years of abuse.
He grew up to be an actor, musician, addict, thief and activist. 20 years of heroin use, homelessness and petty crime
landed him in jail…22 times.
In Jack Charles V The Crown, Uncle Jack’s yarns run the gamut of a life lived to its utmost. His unswerving optimism transforms this tale of
addiction, crime and doing time into a kind of vagabond’s progress.
At 74 years of age Charles, accompanied by a three-piece band, sings and tells his extraordinary tale. This
fleet-footed, light-fingered one-man show is a theatrical delight and a celebration of Black Australia’s dogged refusal
to give up.
In the early 1970s Charles pioneered Indigenous theatre with the (also legendary) late Bob Maza, setting up the nation’s
first Indigenous theatre company in Melbourne.
In 2008 Bastardy told the story of Jack’s life, when a documentary filmmaker followed Uncle Jack for six years. Since then, his profile
has steadily grown, in part from the success of Jack Charles V The Crown, which has toured internationally, but also his recent roles in the ABC's groundbreaking Indigenous sci-fi series Cleverman.
Director Rachael Maza, Bob’s daughter, is a well-known actor and theatre maker, and the Artistic Director for the
ILBIJERRI Theatre Company in Victoria - Australia’s leading and longest running Indigenous and Torres Strait Island
theatre company. Rachael has also worked as a narrator for ABC Radio National and as Indigenous Liaison Advisor on films
such as the multi-award-winning Rabbit Proof Fence.
Writer John Romeril began his career working as a performance poet. He started writing plays in 1967 and was a founding
member of the groundbreaking Australian Performing Group. The Member of the Order of Australia (for significant service
to the performing arts, to theatre companies and education) has written more than 80 plays and also for television and
Jack Charles V The Crown is a vital piece of storytelling, told by the most delightful actor audiences may ever come face to face with.