It’s the story of historical Louisiana. Or historical Far North Queensland. Or it’s the story of a black playwright. Or how race is portrayed on stage. Or, maybe ... it’s about how they’re all the same story.
Brash and provocative, the satirical comedy An Octoroon can trace its roots back to an 1856 novel, then a stage melodrama by crowd-pleasing Irish impresario Dion Boucicault. When the story of a man who scandalously falls for a slave on his Louisiana plantation premiered in New York in 1859, it helped fan the flame of the American Civil War.
Today – with race still as incendiary a global issue as it was then – dazzling and radical African-American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has torn apart and rebuilt the original text as a towering, immersive and wildly funny theatrical experience like no other.
In a version subtly recontextualised to uncover and skewer Australia’s shameful history of slavery, leading Aboriginal artist and commentator Nakkiah Lui (Black Comedy) makes her directorial debut in a Queensland exclusive, co-produced with Brisbane Festival.