Challenging identity

PLAYWRIGHT James Taylor wasn’t planning on starting up a theatre company when he applied to put on a “no-frills, scaled-back version” of his play Hobo at Fringe last year.

Asked for the production company name, he was caught on the hop and the first thing that came to mind was his cat: “Jeffrey is a bit of a character and it stuck,” he says, adding Jeffrey The Cat Productions is set to put on the full-sized, warts and all version of his play.

Hobo is a provocative look at what it’s like to be a man in an age of identity crisis.

Fred (James Hagen) has lost everything, wife, kids, money – and the respect he once had as a long-running radio personality.

Homeless, he lives in an alley with an Indigenous man, Tank (Maitland Schnaars), sharing a camaraderie and a love of music and witty banter.

• Maitland Schnaars and James Hagen in Hobo. Photo supplied

• Maitland Schnaars and James Hagen in Hobo. Photo supplied

Then an unexpected visit from his estranged son Terry (played by James Taylor) shakes the foundations of Fred’s new reality.

Taylor directed the fringe show, but is handing over the reins to fellow WAAPA Aboriginal Theatre graduate Ian Wilkes for this production.

“It’s a bit challenging handing over your play, but I trust Ian.”

With his fair skin and green eyes, Taylor is often questioned on his Aboriginality.

“My grandmother was from the stolen generation and we didn’t talk about it,” he says.

“I didn’t talk about it because I didn’t think I had the right, but a series of events forced me to confront my identity.”

In the beginning Hobo was just a story about two interesting characters, Taylor says: “After a time I realised a lot of things I thought about are close to home and started to come out in context.”

Hobo is on at the Blue Room Theatre, July 5–16. Tix at blueroom.org.au

by JENNY D’ANGER

939 Spare Parts 10x3 939 Secondeli Cafe 10x3939 Terrace Hotel 10x3

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