Friday, April 24, 2009

Pete Postlethwaite

We've found an Elder of the British Theatre to welcome the artists to London at the start of Origins: Pete Postlethwaite. He's an ideal choice, really - very clearly indigenous to England, and very much in the mould of the Aboriginal "uncle". In fact, he tells me when I phone him to talk it through, Pete was given the title "uncle" when he did something similar to welcome some Australian Aboriginal performers to LIFT last summer. Great that he's already got some sense of what this task is. That's probably why he said "yes" so quickly to what is, after all, rather a strange request!

First Nations people set a very high store by ceremony and protocol. That's probably why their performances are so wonderful - they are used to performing their lives on a daily basis. They would find it very odd not to be given a ritualised greeting on their arrival here; just as Chinese people believe in taking you to restaurants, and Indian people invite you into their homes. For the First Nations, the key thing is that an Elder shows you their hospitality.

It's reassuring that Pete - who is, after all, not THAT old - has no objections to being regarded as "an Elder", but embraces the idea very warmly. "Uncle", he tells me, "is not a title that they bestow lightly". And I can hear him glowing slightly with a tinge of pride.

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