Young actor Breythe left Kalgoorlie dreaming of a dazzling career.
Now he’s found himself starring in a controversial Australia Day ad that pays big, but draws the ire of his mob. Racism is subtle but persistent in an industry where directors request he darken up for ‘authenticity’ and typecast him as ‘tracker,’ ‘drinker’ or ‘thief.’
Returning home, Breythe’s just as alienated from country and law. His cultural capital distances him from furious brother Mateo and activist sister Carina, all of them struggling with regret and responsibility after their father’s death.
Set in actor and playwright Meyne Wyatt’s hometown, City of Gold is in part inspired by the death of an Aboriginal teenager killed in 2016 when the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a pursuing ute.
“It was one of the things that prompted me to write in the first place,” Wyatt says. “I want to make sure that he and young men like him – and he was a boy really – aren’t forgotten. It is time for people to reassess the relationship between Australia and Indigenous Australia.”
Wyatt plays the principal character Breythe, an actor who struggles with being typecast in an industry with its own ideas of authenticity.
“For first-time playwrights, it’s always a bit semi-autobiographical,” Wyatt says. “Three years ago, my father passed, and from then on I’ve thought about writing a story about my experience with grief.
“At the same time, I found that there was a lot of work being offered to me that I thought was a bit repetitive for me as an actor. When it starts to be the same thing over and over, you want to challenge yourself and go onto other things. I think every actor goes through that process.”
Wyatt says City of Gold will be confronting for many.
“Kalgoorlie has always had an issue with racism and I think there are some things I’ve had to become desensitised to that other people would think, ‘whoah, that’s really full-on’. But these things happen to me and my family on a daily basis, and I’m sure it will ring true for a lot of Indigenous people.”
Isaac Drandic directs. Jeremy Ambrum, Mathew Cooper, Maitland Schnaars, Shari Sebbens, Anthony Standish and Christopher Stollery feature.