Home ArtsMovies Jack Charles, Grandfather of Aboriginal Theater, Dies at 79

Jack Charles, Grandfather of Aboriginal Theater, Dies at 79

0 comment 0 views

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Jack Charles, one of Australia’s leading Indigenous actors, has been called the ‘grandfather of Aboriginal theater’ but spent his life in and out of prison due to his heroin addiction and penchant for robbery died on September 13th. melbourne. he was 79 years old.

He died in hospital after suffering a stroke, according to his publicist, Patrice Capogreco.

Mr. Charles’ voice made people stop and listen.

Rough and majestic, with rounded vowels honed by pronunciation lessons in rundown boys’ houses, it warranted his audience even in the Australian prison scrum where he spent much of his life. Did.

“It is very unusual for criminals and criminals to listen to prisoners for long periods of time,” he wrote in his memoirs, using slang to describe fellow prisoners and prison officers. “But somehow they allowed me to do whatever I was talking about and actually listen.”

That voice catapulted Mr Charles onto the stage, where he captivated Melbourne’s theatergoers and helped make him one of Australia’s leading Aboriginal film actors.

He attributed his talent to his indigenous heritage. “We are great orators,” he wrote in his memoirs. “It’s just one element of our culture that white people haven’t seen in our development.”

In 1971, Charles founded Australia’s first indigenous theater company, the Nindetana Theater, with actor Bob Maza. He was known in Australia as Uncle Jack, an Aboriginal honorific denoting his position as an elder.

His life was chronicled in the inexorable 2008 documentary Bastardy. His memoir “Born-again Blakfella”. and his 2010 monologue, Jack Charles vs. the Crown, which he co-wrote and has performed worldwide.

“Mr. Trump gave me the right to go to New York and put on ‘Jack Charles vs. The Crown,'” he said of the former president in an interview last year. Australian news agency The Saturday Paper“For an old thief like me, it’s the ultimate.

His road to stardom was rocky. Mr. Charles struggled with a near-lifelong affair with heroin addiction, homelessness, and robbery, and was incarcerated multiple times. He spent his 20th, 30th, 40th and 50th birthdays in prison.

It was also a journey of self-discovery. For decades, Aboriginal people have talked about who he really is, where he came from, what it means to be gay, and what it means to be an Aboriginal Australian and a member of the so-called Stolen Generation. , children were separated from their families by the government and forcibly assimilated into white society.

Raised in an almost entirely white house for boys, Charles had no knowledge of Aboriginal culture and didn’t even know he was an Aboriginal until other children bullied him.

He later used that knowledge to educate others about Australian history and race relations from the backseat of a taxi or on the set of the 2015 Warner Bros. film Pan, wearing an Aboriginal flag on his back. I dropped it. of his trailer. (He played a tribal chief in the film, along with his fellow Australian Hugh Jackman.)

Mr Charles wrote that it “became a topic of conversation about the social and political aspirations of Aboriginal Australians”.

After quitting his heroin addiction in his later years, he was a familiar and striking figure, cruising around Melbourne on a mobility scooter with an Aboriginal flag fluttering on his back.

Wesley Enoch, an Australian theater director who has worked with Charles, said, “He was someone who accepted everything, even the bad.” “He understood them and accepted them so he could incorporate them into who he was.”

He added that being held by Charles himself, who is less than five feet tall, was an unforgettable experience.

Jack Charles was born in Melbourne on September 5, 1943. He was one of his 13 children born to Blanche Muriel Charles, two of whom died at birth. Eleven survivors were separated from their mothers at an early age. Mr. Charles was the only one of her brothers who saw her again.

He was first placed in an orphanage when he was four months old. At Box Hill Boys’ Home, a suburb of Melbourne, he endured physical and sexual abuse.

“I was cheated by the system,” Charles told the state commission.

At the age of 14, he moved to a nursing home and began a glass beveling apprenticeship. But after a disagreement on a night out with his foster parents, he was kicked out of his home at the age of 17 and taken into police custody when he met with other Aboriginal Australians and learned the identity of his birth mother. it was done.

So began a troubled relationship with the law. Mr. Charles spent his 22 years in prison and was often accused of robbery. He preferred a home in Kew, a wealthy Melbourne suburb where his ancestors were from.

Raised as a Christian, he was taught that stealing was wrong, he told The Saturday Paper. But calling it a “robbery” in his ancestral hometown “felt great,” he said. “Very, very satisfied.”

For him, imprisonment was as productive as it was frequent. On behalf of his fellow prisoners, he wrote his wife a love letter in exchange for chocolates and cigarettes. He read extensively, completed his high school education, and studied and taught pottery.

“You just lose your freedom with a nickname,” he said in the documentary Bastardy, using slang for prison. “I can’t go anywhere, but my mind wanders when I am in captivity. I may be trapped, but I am still free. Free inside.”

Mr. Charles came on stage almost by chance. In 1964, representatives from New His Theater in Melbourne came to the Aboriginal Youth’s hostel where he lived to cast Lorraine’s all-Indigenous production of Hansbury’s ‘A Raisin in the Sun’. Did. He was given the role as an understudy.

It was a revelation. At the theater, Mr. Charles found a companion. “They gave me a great party, but they didn’t seem to care about my sexuality or my Aboriginalness,” he wrote in his memoirs.

For the next seven years he worked in the factory beveling glass by day and at the New Theater by night.

However, he fell into an addiction and was forced to live on the streets. He wrote that his stint in prison was a relief as he was provided with stable housing and regular meals.

From 1971 to 1974 he ran the Aboriginal theater group Nindenthana, whose first hit, Jack Charles Is Up and Fighting, explored whether Aboriginal Australians should assimilate or move away from the country’s white majority. I searched for what to do.

He has appeared in plays across Australia including ‘Cradle of Hercules’, ‘No Sugar’ and in 2020 ‘Black Ties’ at the Arts Centre, Melbourne’s largest theater. He has appeared in his series of Australian television such as ‘Cleverman’, ‘Women of the Sun’ and ‘Preppers’, as well as films such as ‘The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith’, ‘Blackfellas’ and ‘Wolf Creek’. .

He was eventually reunited with his four siblings: brother Archie, sister Esme, Eva Jo, and Christine. He learned the identity of his father, Hilton Hamilton Walsh, last year when he appeared on the TV show Family Tree. “Who do you think you are?”

He is survived by Christine Zenip Charles, the only one of the 11 brothers who knew him to still be alive.

In his later years, Mr. Charles was able to look back on his life in a generous way, moving from a place of deep anger to a place of reconciliation.

“It’s important to keep in mind that my story is also about healing,” he wrote in his memoir.

About Us

The Husky is dedicated to bringing you news and opinions covering a variety of topical subjects. As our name implies; we focus on reporting the absolute best stories to come out of this great nation. 

Email: Info@herbergllc.com

Editors' Picks


Subscribe my Newsletter for new blog posts, tips & new photos. Let's stay updated!

Copyright ©️ All rights reserved. | Husky.ws

husky-logo-3 (2) (1)