The Sugarland National Tour made its way to Griffith for two days in June. Writers of the play Rachael Coopes and Wayne Blair spent five years listening to real life experiences of the youth living in Katherine, which then resulted in the very successful Play Sugarland.

The Play was first performed in Katherine before opening at the Australian Theatre for Young People.

Ten students from Griffith High School were fortunate enough to participate in a drama workshop lead by actors from Sugarland before seeing the play.

Another forty students and three teachers were captivated by the performance of the actors and the themes and issues that Sugarland confronted the audience with.

Below is a review about Sugarland composed by two Griffith High School Students Scott Mallise & Beau Kelly.

Sugarland provides a glimpse into a teenage Australia that feels like a foreign country. This haunting new play made us pause, made us smile, made us wonder how much is real.

The play portrays realism through the language and actions the characters use.

The dialogue rings true, although for all its authenticity the coarse language, when combined with some early mumbling in the acting, made it difficult for audiences to understand the points that they were making.

The play presented audiences with teenage issues that are faced by young people today, these include, homelessness, domestic violence, young pregnancy, drug abuse, self-harm and the consequences of not attending school.

Based in Katharine, the play opens with an Indigenous teenage girl, Nina, who was forced to find somewhere to live to escape the escalating levels of domestic violence in her own home.

She turns to her cousin Jimmy for help but he’s unable to help as he is facing his own financial troubles. School seems to be the only secure environment for these two.

When a new girl arrives with her liberal views, wealthy though absent parents and desire to fit in to her new community, the plot kicks into gear as they compete for the financial rewards of winning a local singing competition.

Two more class mates and a well-meaning though jaded support worker round out the cast as the increasingly desperate Nina decides that the only way she will be able to access government support is through having a baby.

The play doesn’t shy away from some of the more prevalent issues in Aboriginal communities such as underage drinking and drugs but it is the game where friends choke each other to the point of passing out that was the most shocking depiction on stage.

We thought the whole production was really good. With minimal props and a host of fresh faced young actors, Sugarland was a play that all Australians should make the effort to go and see.

By Scott Mallise & Beau Kelly, Year 10 Griffith High School. Published in 2016.