|Jose Da Costa in Hello My Name Is..
HELLO MY NAME IS…
Using Text by Edward Bond from Choruses After The Assassinations. Directed by Paulo Castro. Nexus Arts. OzAsia Festival November 7 – 9. 2018. Bookings: www.ozasiafestival.com.au.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins.
The voiceover is heard through the darkness. “This performance is dedicated to the victims of the massacres in East Timor” Actor Jose da Costa enters slowly, dressed in fatigues and bearing a cross which he lays in the middle of the stage. He sinks to the floor , a victim of appalling atrocities carried out against the people of Timor Leste by the brutal soldiers of the Indonesian Army, ahead of a proposed United Nations delegation to Timor Leste. The delegation never arrived and the army pursued its horrific genocide. HELLO MY NAME IS… is one soldier’s account of the violence perpetrated against his people prior to independence. as nations vied for geopoliticial control and economic exploitation of East Timor’s natural offshore oil deposits. It is a story of international abuse and shameful neglect by the UN and the global community.
Da Costa slowly rises from the floor and draws a yellow police tape across the front of the stage, warning people that this is a crime scene, before tearing it apart and assuming the character of the Indonesian army officer, armed and cruel, lifting a skull while pointing a gun at the head. Throughout, Edward Bond’s poetic imagery paints scenes of horror, of slaughter and skeletons discarded and children denied education and life’s opportunity. It is a portrait of a country raped by political oppression and economic exploitation. It is a portrait of monstrous motives and ineffectual opposition.
The scene shifts to the International Political Conference. as Da Costa moves the tables into position and places the names upon the table. In an ironic moment of grim humour, Da Costa pours champagne and clinks the glasses of the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Ali Alatar and Australia’s Gareth Evans. The soldier stands before them, a letter from the obedient citizens to remind the powers that be that their moral duty is not to get rid of the bombs but to change society. It is the cry for justice that falls upon deaf ears and, slowly donning a skeleton suit Da Costa sinks to the grave beside the cross. It is a gesture of defeat, of hopelessness against the politicians, the United Nations, the Indonesians and the Portuguese.
The power of Da Costa’s performance is in its authenticity. There is no theatrical artifice to the truth of his actions. It is the thoroughly convincing expression of actual experience. As such the issue is shamefully clear., the responsibility poignantly and powerfully apparent. His is the voice of the oppressed speaking on behalf of those who have become enveloped in the cycle of the dead at the end of time. It is the cry of all indigenous victims of all races and all lands, crying from the graves of the nameless to be named and justice to be served.