29 July 2009

Dark Paradise

You know how some ideas haunt you? Well, this photograph haunted me from the moment I first I came across it several years ago. I knew that at some point I would write about it—and now I have.

Jō and Ichiko Takasuka, Victoria 1914/5

DARK PARADISE is a radio piece, the story of Japanese immigrant, Jō Takasuka, who grew Australia’s first commercial rice crop in 1914/15—as told by a benshi or silent film narrator. From the moment the Takasuka family arrive in Melbourne in 1905, they have to battle not only a harsh physical environment, but also a hostile political climate, thanks to the notorious ‘White Australia’ policy. DARK PARADISE is a fictionalised account of such a time and place.

Written by Noëlle Janaczewska
Produced by Jane Ulman
Music: Chis Abrahams & Jim Denley
Sound engineer: Andrei Shabunov

Performed by: Kuni Hashimoto, Linda Cropper, Asako Izawa
Ivar Kants, Felix Gentle, Gerard Carroll, Ian Scott, Gary Bryson, Hamish Daniel,
Andy Scott, Barbara Smith, Garry Hogan, Nicholas Field & Yuki Matsuura

ABC Radio National: Airplay
Sunday 9 August, 3:00 pm, repeated Thursday 13 August, 7:00 pm, and available online for 4 weeks from first broadcast at

And I haven’t finished with this material—neither the story of the Takasukas, nor the figure of the benshi. Over the coming year, I’ll be continuing to work with it for new projects in print, poetry and performance.

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