Review: One Billion Beats – Campbelltown Arts Centre

March 4th 2016


Photo credit: Heidrun Lohr


Full of childhood memory and passion, autobiographical reflection One Billion Beats challenges Indigenous representation through the lens of Western film.

One Billion Beats is a theatre work drawing together archival footage of Australian cinema, poetry and original music with personal stories from Romaine Moreton, spanning the period of her childhood to revelations today. A Goenpul Jagara woman of Stradbroke Island and Brisbane area, and Bundjulung of northern New South Wales, Moreton is a filmmaker, a poet, a performer, a research fellow, a daughter, a sister and niece. With an engaging, heartfelt, sincere and funny voice, Moreton presents an exhilarating performance that is political, personal and profoundly real.

Leaving home at the age of six with a suitcase packed full of clothes, Moreton thanks her mother in hindsight for the gift of freedom granted to her as a child, allowing her to live with many aunties, uncles and cousins. However, this personal sense of freedom is contradicted at school, away from the protection of family, where Moreton recalls only seeing herself as others saw her – a ‘dirty black’ kid.

In 2009, Moreton begun a residency as a research fellow at the National Film & Sound Archive in Canberra. It was here that she first watched Journey Out of Darkness (1967), sparking her interest in the representation of Indigenous People in Australian cinema throughout history, and the implications of such representations. Through several collaborations over the course of six years, One Billion Beats was brought together with co-writer and -director Alana Valentine, musical composition and sound design by Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung woman Lou Benett, and video artist Sean Bacon.

The piece is inherently personal and political. As an Indigenous Australian, Moreton carries much grief inside – grief from personal repression, from having to shower before school so as to be ‘clean’ – and grief from Aboriginal marginalisation and misrepresentation. One Billion Beats is a profound act of courage, demonstrating that Moreton has risen above the ‘dirty’ labels she’s endured.

Moreton’s voice will resonate with you long after the show has ended:

“We are here and we are many,
And we shall surprise you by our will,
We shall rise from this place where you expect
To keep us down,
And we shall surprise you by our will.”

Bravo Moreton. Bravo Campbelltown Arts Centre for the commissioning and support of this project. This work is a testament to the one billion people that walked this country before 1788, to their personal stories and resilience. I stand and applaud it.


WHAT: One Billion Beats
WHERE: Campbelltown Arts Centre
WHEN: Friday 4 March & Saturday 5 March, 7pm
HOW MUCH: $30 (Tix here)



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