The play of the story of his life...
The play of the story of his life…
At the age of twelve, David Page had two Top Ten singles and was considered to be Australia’s answer to the young Michael Jackson. In 2000, he composed the music for the Sydney Olympics opening and closing night ceremonies. Now, he’s performing a one-man music theatre show that reveals what is was like growing up as a gay Aborigine in urban Australia.
“I met David and his brother Stephen many years ago. It is wonderful to finally bring a work of theirs that gives us an insight into this fantastically talented family and to give New Zealanders a taste of what it is to be an indigenous Australian today,” says Carla van Zon, the Festival’s Artistic Director.
An exuberant and moving celebration of personal identity and family, Page 8, sponsored by AC Nielsen, follows the rollercoaster ride of actor and composer David Page’s early years. The show gets its name from David’s place in the Page family – he is the eighth of twelve children who all grew up in a four bedroom house in a commission estate in the outer suburbs of Brisbane.
With their Dad away on construction sites and their mother working in a pineapple canning factory, the twelve Page children were adept at entertaining themselves and their neighbours. There where kitchen floor shows, singing and dancing to the Jackson Five, and backyard concerts on the laundry roof. Directing all the action as usual was the frontman on the mop, David Page, aged ten.
David was clearly headed for stardom and after winning the local pub's talent quest, a talent scout approached him. He was soon signed by Atlantic Records and became ‘Little Davy Page’ (a name he hated), the all-singing, all-dancing sensation. For two years the cheques rolled in. He was in demand – he appeared on television talk shows and even played gigs with John Farnham. But when his voice broke “it all stopped” and his recording contract was dropped.
Times were tough and this was compounded with his ‘coming out’. He found himself a gay Aboriginal man in a racist and homophobic world.
With the aid of fantastic Super-8 footage, shot by David as a boy, we delve into the lives and personalities of his brothers, sisters, parents, godparents, cousins – and numerous others characters. The set design is cleverly simple – 1950's Australiana interior décor and a musical soundtrack that includes both ‘70s hits and original acoustic songs.
This self-portrait, produced by Company B Belvoir St Theatre, is a glorious mixture of story telling, music, indigenous culture, sexuality home movies and drag. David has collaborated with acclaimed Australian author and playwright Louis Nowra in writing his story. The script is the result of six month’s worth of interviews with Nowra – meetings Page describes as psychiatrist sessions. Page 8 is directed by his younger brother, Stephen, who is the artistic director and choreographer of Bangarra Dance Company. Stephen describes the show as a love letter to the brothers’ family, their history and their culture.
Speaking about being approached by Stephen, who was then the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival, to tell his life story, David says “I was quite reluctant about the whole idea … but once I started writing it and the stories came out, I realised it wasn’t really about me – it’s about all these people who are a part of your life … my family, all these people who make you, who help you along the way.”
Hailed by critics as “a born entertainer” (Sunday Herald), Page is an engaging performer who shares with humour and flair the story of his extraordinary life.
Additional bio info: In the 1980s, David studied at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) at Adelaide University. In 1989 teamed up with his brothers Russell (a dancer) and Stephen in Sydney where he first created music for dance working with The Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre and Sydney Dance Company. In 1990, David joined the Bangarra Dance Theatre as resident composer and composed scores for Praying Mantis Dreaming; Ochres; Ninni; Fish; Skin; Corroboree and Bush. In 1997, he composed the musical work Alchemy for The Australian Ballet. In 2000, David and Stephen Francis contributed music to the Opening Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games and the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, along with The Sydney Dreaming Festival in 2002. David has also composed award winning music for film and television. He was awarded the first Indigenous Artist Award for The Sidney Myer Foundation in 2000. As an actor, David has performed on stage and worked in film including Oscar and Lucinda which starred Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett and was directed by Gillian Armstrong.
Praise for Page 8:
"...a beautifully crafted and wonderfully performed piece of autobiographical theatre... David Page is extraordinary." Sydney Morning Herald
“Page is an irresistibly charming and good-humoured performer who doesn’t take himself too seriously.” Sun Herald
Performance dates: Wed 8 – Fri 10 March 6.30pm; Sat
11 March 2 & 8pm; Sun 12 March 4pm,
Downstage Theatre, Wellington