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The 7 Stages of Grieving by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, was first produced as a workshop showing at The Shock of the New Festival at La Boite Theatre, Brisbane 1995. Then  it was produced by Kooemba Jdarra, at the Metro Arts Theatre, Brisbane. After the premiere in 1995 the show, performed by Mailman and directed by Enoch, toured nationally in 1996. 7 Stages... ‘tells a collective story that merges personal and family history with instances of public grief'. [1] The title, and a basis of the work, is a parallel between Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's analysis of the five stages of dying – denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance and a division of Aboriginal history into seven stages – the Dreaming, invasion, genocide, protection, assimilation, self determination and reconciliation. [2] From this framework, Enoch and Mailman constructed a young woman's story dealing with family, friends, relatives, racism and grief. As Enoch argues,

the play is not just story telling. It is not nice. It is not easy... It is structurally complex, and audiences will need to work hard to grasp the analysis of culture and place. For Murri audiences, a sense of celebration emerges from the grieving. There is a lightening of the load, an elation that comes from hearing stories that need to be told. [3]

7 Stages... is a complex, highly structured theatre text that draws on a broad frame and range of experiences seeking to present an 'everywoman'. Many of the stories are drawn from life, such as the death in police custody of the dancer Daniel Yock and the protests, grief and outrage that followed.  In 1997 The 7 Stages of Grieving was presented by Kooemba Jdarra and Performing Lines as part of the Wimmin's Business season in the Festival of the Dreaming in Sydney then toured to the Battersea Arts Centre, London Festival of Theatre (LIFT).

 

 

 

 

Simon and Delyse Ryan ACU National