Milk by Dylan Van Den Berg

The Street, Canberra
Thursday 3 June (preview) to Saturday 12 June 2021

On the precipice of something life changing, a young Palawa man plunges into an exploration of self and Country. Carried on the winds of a metaphysical Flinders Island, the land of his mob and the place where it all happened, he is drawn back to the dawn of colonisation.

Barbie spoke with the director of Milk, Ginny Savage

We hear the story of a woman who bore the brunt of the oppressors’ violence and of her granddaughter, who buried the truth as a means of survival. Stirring up stories together, with parts both achingly sad and unexpectedly funny, what unfolds reveals by slow degrees painful but  important truths.

Dylan Van Den Berg is a Palawa writer and actor from the northeast of Lutrawita/Tasmania. His work deals with Black/settler relations through a culturally hybrid practice.

Milk won the NSW Premier’s Award/ Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting in 2021. The judges said of it:

This is a strikingly original work, and a play of need for the author. On a metaphysical Flinders Island off the coast of Tasmania, three unnamed Aboriginal characters, diverse in gender and age, and spanning two centuries, negotiate the impacts of colonisation, moving through time and space. 

The writer has constructed a truly theatrical landscape, displaying an expertise in how to build scenes and momentum, knowing where to restrain and where to push forward. The play’s form is sophisticated and sure, and its content compelling. This is a remarkable achievement from a genuinely exhilarating imagination. 

Milk is a strikingly original work occupying dual time zones spanning two centuries, with three unnamed Aboriginal characters negotiating the impacts of colonisation. Van Den Berg’s play is symphonic in construction, with deeply human characters, and one that expertly guides the audience through tragedy and loss to a poignant end. A fresh and genuinely exhilarating theatrical voice.


Image courtesy the Creswick Collective.