By Meyne WyattDramaCurrency Press, in association with Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre

City of Gold

When a messenger bird suddenly brings Breythe tragic tidings from his family, it spurs him on a journey of grief and duty. Returning home to Kalgoorlie, he is thrust headlong into family conflict and the reality of what it means to be an Indigenous youth in today’s Australia. Rising star Meyne Wyatt’s debut play is as riveting and unflinchingly honest as his stage presence. Urgent, wryly funny and politically incendiary, City of Gold is a call for change that will sound out for years to come.

Portrait of Meyne Wyatt

Meyne Wyatt

Kalgoorlie born actor Meyne Wyatt was just 18 when he was accepted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art and has created a buzz in the industry with non-stop theatre, television and film work since graduating in 2010.

He began his professional career in Griffin Theatre Company’s production of The Brothers Size, and was named the Sydney Theatre Awards’ Best Newcomer in their production of Silent Disco that same year. He rounded out a stellar debut year in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Stephen Page’s Bloodland which went on to tour Adelaide Festival and QPAC in 2012.

His theatre work includes Belvoir/Urban Theatre Project/Sydney Festival’s The Buried City, Bell Shakespeare’s The School for Wives, Queensland Theatre Company/Sydney Festival co-production of Black Diggers, Sydney Theatre Company’s King Lear, Griffin Theatre Company’s production of Gloria and Playwriting Australia’s Minneapolis. Meyne’s film credits include The Sapphires, Reaching the Distance, Strangerland, The Turning and What If It Works.

He is recognisable through his television appearances in Black Comedy, The Broken Shore, Mystery Road, Redfern Now (for which he was nominated for an AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama and a Logie Award for Most Outstanding Newcomer), The Leftovers, Wentworth and Neighbours.

In 2019 Meyne was celebrated as an emerging writer with a powerful and distinctive voice when his play City of Gold played to critically acclaimed sell-out seasons at Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company, in which he also performed the lead role of Breythe.

Judges’ report

City of Gold is an extraordinary cri de coeur; a scream of rage and despair from the heart of First Nations people, it’s a work of often breathtaking rhetorical force. Energised by the crisis at the heart of our country, it paints a picture of dire societal pressure and galvanising personal courage. Uncompromising, raw and shocking, it is a play that cries ‘Enough! Our people are dying’. Necessary and unforgettable.

Extract

This extract contains some explicit language.

BREYTHE: Ask the brother-boy Adam Goodes. Two-time Brownlow medallist, double premiership player, captain of the club, hall of famer. Squeaky clean muthafucka. Heads down, bums up, shut the fuck up, Goodsey. Ask him, he knows… On the spectrum of being a radical black, he came off as about a six. That’s not dissin the brother. He was proud, but he was humble. Then a kid said some racist shit. Not ignorant! Racist! I get it. It was a kid. But calling a blackfulla an ape? C’mon. We was flora and fauna before 1967. That’s only 50 odd years ago. But he didn't lose his cool. He taught that kid a lesson. Went all Martin Luther King on the shit. 'Australian of the year'! Whatever the fuck that is. But they didn't like that. A black man standing up for himself? Na. You shut the fuck up boy. You stay in your lane! Anytime you touch the ball we gonna boo yo ass! So, he went Malcolm X on them muthafuckas! Went from 6 to 11. Not 10. 11! Showed em a scary black! Ooh-ga-da booh-ga-da black, throwing imaginary spears and shit. Oh, and did they like that? Oh no, no, no, no, they didn't like that! Every arena, every stadium they booed him. ‘It’s because the way he plays football!’ Bull-fucken-shit! No one booed him the way they booed him, until he stood up and said something. Why didn't they boo him at that level before he said something about race? Second he stood up, every muthafucka came out of the wood works to give him shit. And he’s supposed to sit there and take it? Well I tell you right now. Adam Goodes has taken it. All his life he's taken it... I’ve taken it. No matter what. No matter how big, how small, I’ll get some racist shit on a weekly basis and I’ll take it... Used to be that, in your face, boong, black cunt shit. Gonna chase you down the ditch with my baseball bat, skinhead shit; when I was 14 years old. And that’s the shit I actually prefer. At least then I know where muthafuckas stand. Give me that 1960s, KKK, Alabama like shit. That shit I grew up with. Right here in Kalgoorlie! That shit, I have first-hand experience of. But nah we’ve come forward. We progressive muthafuckas. We gonna give you that small, subtle shit. That shit that’s always been there, but it’s not that ‘obvious’, ‘in your face’ shit, no, it’s that ‘Now we can't be seen to be racist’ kinda shit. Security guard following me around the shop, asking to search my bag. That walking up to the counter first and being served second or third or last kinda shit. Hailing a cab and watching it slow down, to look at my face and drive off. More than once. More than twice. More than once, twice on any one occasion. That shit. Yeah, I’ll get that. Weekly. Sometimes I’ll get it days in a row if I’m really lucky. That’s the kinda shit, I’m letting them think, they're getting away with. Not for them. For me. Because to be honest. I can't be fucked. Can't be fucked teaching they're ignorant asses on a daily basis. I don't have the energy or the enthusiasm. It’s fucking exhausting. And I like living my life... But then. On an occasion. You've caught me on a bad day. Where I don't feel like taking it. I’ll give you that angry black muthafucka you’ve been asking for and I’ll tear you a new arsehole. Not because of that one moment. Because of my whole life... At least Adam danced. And they still pissed and moaned. But it’s not just about that one time. It’s about all those times... You can be successful and be black. But they want you to be their kind of black. That tall, handsome, non-threatening black man. Will Smith in the 90’s. Why do you think he was the highest paid, highest grossing movie star in the 90’s? Because he was in your face and political? Uh- ah... Because he was the Fresh Prince of Bel Air! He was a goofy, fun lovin muthafucka! All charming and charismatic and shit. You weren't scared of Will Smith. He was the guy you could take home to ya mother. He rapped. But he rapped that PG13 shit. Not that gangsta shit! He was no gangbanger. Wasn't part of no East Coast, West Coast rivalry. He was getting jiggy with it, in the Wild Wild West. And that was cool enough for white people. They ate that shit up. Still eating that shit up. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. If ya smell what The Rock is cookin?! Tall, handsome, non-threatening black man. Lifts his eyebrow, jiggles his tits and people pay to see him. Time and time again. Because he tows the line. Quiet about politics. The Rock, Will Smith they smart. They see the game and their masters at playing it. That’s why they're successful... Keep your mouth shut. Open it; watch em turn. We’ll keep our mouths shut. If you just keep payin us that money. We just want that money. We wanna do, what we wanna do and look good doin it. Sittin up with our fly kicks, chillin. Feed that family and lay back, with our three Commodores in our drive way. We simple people. We don’t care. We cool with being hood rich. At least a nigga, nigga rich. Don’t be telling us to be savin and shit. Aint nobody got time for that. But you’ll get it from the other side too. Don’t you worry. From your own community. I see you. I hear you. I feel you. I gave you the black nod. What? You think I’m a coconut? Say that shit to my face. You don’t know me. You don’t know where I’m from. I don’t have to be a flag beater. You believe what you want to believe about me I’m only giving you what I want you to see.

The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist