Victorian Storyteller, Jan Wositzky, has been researching and writing about Australian author, bushman and raconteur Bill Harney for twenty years. The result is a one-man storytelling show. For 70 minutes, Jan weaves personal anecdote, song and recitations of transcribed oral texts into a tale that is moving, funny, absurd, raw and at times tragic. Bill Harney ‘Bilarni’ (1895 – 1962) was born of English parents and grew up in Queensland. At 12 he took off droving and what followed was a rich and richly recorded life. Largely self-educated, he was poetically articulate and throughout the 40s 50s, in Australia, his voice was heard and his stories familiar on radio, and his books devoured. Bill Harney was famous in his day and remains a legend in Queensland and the Northern Territory where his relationships with Aboriginal people ran deep.
In ‘Bilarni’ Jan examines the man and the myth; the story as he tells it is neither sentimental nor uncritical. He brings great depth to the telling with rich layers of information, multiple Aboriginal languages, Australian dialects, and ‘Englishes’ superb evocations of characters that could only be encountered in the north of this continent. Jan’s musicality is evident throughout, particularly so when it comes to the mastery of Harney’s rhythmical speech patterns. Lovers of language and literature will be seduced by Harney’s depth of feeling and perceptions, expressed so eloquently. This a storytelling at its best!
‘Bilarni’ will be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good yarn and a wild ride.
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Catch the show at the National Folk Festival Saturday 19 April HERE