Meyne Wyatt chats ‘City of Gold’, a necessary piece of First Nations drama
June 6th 2022
You might remember Meyne Wyatt’s powerful performance on ABC’s Q&A which went viral around the world amidst the 2020 Black Lives Matter Movement. His debut play City of Gold returns to Eora/Sydney for its run at the Wharf Theatre. Meyne caught up with Helenna Barone-Peters on Up For It to chat all about it.
“I wanted to say something about growing up in the country and particularly Kalgoorlie, my home town… I was probably angry at the time so I had some things to say with the play.”
This is the debut play for the Wongutha-Yamatji writer and actor. Since its sold out premiere at the Griffin Theatre in 2019, City of Gold has been shortlisted for both the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Drama and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award. At the 2019 Sydney Theatre Awards, it was nominated for Best New Australian Work, with Meyne Wyatt winning Best Male Actor in a Leading Role.
The play is semi-autobiographical, following a young actor who returns to his hometown of Kalgoorlie to mourn the loss of his father.
“I think the best theatreworks are about families, because we all have one, no matter if you were born into that family or if you’ve chosen that family, family is family, and I think that connects with everyone.”
Meyne performed an excerpt from the play on ABC’s Q&A back in 2020, a performance which went viral around the world. At the time, the Black Lives Matter movement had reached its peak, drawing attention to Australia’s ongoing colonial violence and Aboriginal deaths in custody.
“We were talking about Aboriginal deaths in custody and David Dungay’s mum, Aunty Leetona, was in the audience. So I knew I had to bring it. I knew that something was palpable in the room, and I knew performing it that I had to do justice to the message, and as long as that came through I did my job.”
Meyne was prepared for negative backlash following the performance.
“Going into it I told my family to stay off the socials.. Don’t read the comments.. But the resounding positive response was what I didn’t expect and I think that reaction… it did what it needed to do.”
The 4-minute excerpt forms part of a much longer monologue which opens the play’s second-act. It is a 15-minute howl of rage at the injustice and inequality which continues to persist in this country.
“I think it’s unfortunate that the play is more relevant than ever…
“It wasn’t my intention for it to be an educational piece, I’m just telling a story, but through that story people are gaining something or being taught something.”
City of Gold is an urgent, gripping and necessary piece of First Nations drama.