La Mama’s new play set on Black Saturday ‘scorched in secrets and trauma’

La Mama’s new play set on Black Saturday ‘scorched in secrets and trauma’

HEARTH - Black Saturday play
Words by Lucas Radbourne

Carlton's La Mama Theatre is set to premiere 'HEARTH', a new play about family and belonging set amidst the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

“It looked so beautiful. It looked magical – snow, falling here, in January. But it wasn’t snow.”

Australia’s deadliest bushfires, Black Saturday resulted in the deaths of 173 people and over one million hectares of burnt land. The trauma truly is scorched in the memory of many Victorians, but La Mama Theatre’s new play by Fleur Murphy takes a personal approach, focusing on the drama inherent in a family celebrating an 18th birthday in Kinglake that day.

What you need to know

  • HEARTH by Fleur Murphy
  • 18 – 29 May 2022
  • La Mama Courthouse

Check out Melbourne’s latest stage shows and theatrical events here.

In HEARTH, the fires provide a form of impending doom as a family secret is revealed while the temperature outside rises. The question the play asks is will bringing everything out in the open finally give the play’s central family the peace and acceptance they’ve constantly struggled for – or will it tear them further apart and make them question the very structure they’ve tried to uphold? It poses the questions: What makes a family? Is it love, blood or law? And, what breaks a family?

“I’ve been extremely humbled by the response we’ve received from various communities and individuals throughout the development of the work. What’s been amazing is the space it’s provided others to share their own stories of hope and resilience – whether in the rehearsal room, the classroom, over a cuppa and a scone after a reading, or in the theatre foyer. After all the pivots, cancellations, and rescheduling throughout the last two years, I’m looking forward to finally bringing HEARTH to the stage,” said Murphy.

“The play is inspired by a number of things: my own upbringing in a small country town, family secrets and the heartbreaking accounts from those involved in the Black Saturday bushfires. In the beginning it may look like a familiar family drama but it’s a play scorched in secrets and trauma. For me, HEARTH is about striving for a sense of belonging and a desperate yearning to heal.”

HEARTH features a cast including Geoff Paine (Neighbours), Sonya Suares (Melbourne Talam, MTC), Martin Blum (Boy out of the Country, Larrikin Productions), Carole Patullo (Button, La Mama) and rising star Kurt Pimblett (Hir, Belvoir and Because The Night, Malthouse).

HEARTH runs for 85 minutes, no interval. It’s for ages 15+ and contains coarse language, sexual references, violence, references to bushfires. Tickets here.