How did you become a playwright?
I used to dance, but I never considered myself an artist. It was just something I did on the side of my normal nine to five work. Then I went to Putalina aboriginal festival here in Tasmania, and I saw my cousin Elliott Maynard, he’s an actor. He was in a play. They hadn’t found anyone to play the lead role. They came up and asked if I’d like to audition. I loved drama in high school, so thought I’d just have a go at it. I went to the audition and got the role. I fell in love with drama all over again. But instead of acting, I wanted to do the writing. What a wicked platform to tell my people’s stories.
Tell us about those stories.
Well, I’m trying to find opportunities for other artists in the community. There are too many stories for one person to tell. The stories are passed down from generations, about our unique culture and the battles we’ve been through. It’s not finding the stories, it’s working out which part of the story I want to tell.
What can we expect from The Season?
Sydney Festival will be the first complete public performance of it. It’s my first full-length play. One thing I really wanted was for it to be authentic to our mob. I didn’t go into it saying, “I’ll tell this, this and this”. It all came out as I was writing it. It took about a year and a half to write. There have been other projects in between.
What are the main themes?
As an aboriginal you need to belong to your mob. The connection to country, to culture. Even if it is a story about aboriginals, there are still a lot of universal themes in there, about family and the complexities of family, the complexities of community. I wanted to show that Tasmania is its own unique community. We’re very proud of our uniqueness.
What’s it like being part of Sydney Festival?
It’s amazing! I’m still pinching myself. I haven’t let it sink in yet to be honest with you. I’m planning on seeing a whole lot of other shows. I feel relatively new to this world, so I love going along and getting exposure and seeing what others are doing.
What do you think of the state of the indigenous arts scene in Australia?
I think there’s a real strong movement. We have to be the authors of our own yarns. Not just writing, but the entire teams putting these things together. We have to have control of telling the stories we want to tell in a way we want to. There’s a beautiful vibe around the indigenous arts world. People are pumped and supportive, and really empowering each other.
I’ve got a movie project that I’m involved in, and a couple of other smaller projects. There’s still some plays I want to write. I just want to get pen to paper.
Aboriginal playwright Nathan Maynard presents a hilarious portrait of the Duncans, a family bursting with love and always up for a laugh. They’re back on Big Dog Island, a speck of land in Bass Strait, for the annual mutton-bird harvest. Hatchets are buried, secrets told, pranks pulled and birds plucked. But this year, things are different. One generation is giving way to the next, the youngsters have their own way of doing things, and government regulation is making its presence felt – even on this remote patch of earth.