Leah Purcell – An Interview

Copyrighted to Australian Stage.

Based on the book Don’t Take Your Love To Town by Ruby Langford Ginibi, the upcoming two-hour (including interval) stage adaptation of the same name by Eamon Flack and Leah Purcell is sure to be one of year’s most highly anticipated productions. A tribute to the extraordinary life of the woman whom many knew as a chronicler of Indigenous history, an outspoken activist and a brilliant storyteller; this is the life of Aunty Ruby, told with gusto, honesty and enthusiasm.

Directed and performed by Purcell this stage adaptation pays homage to the woman who was “as much a survivor as a superwoman”.

“Those were the days when blackfellas didn’t have two sticks, let alone two cents to rub together” explainsPurcell, “But Ruby was a survivor and she saw it all – from Coonabarabran to Surry Hills, she was there. She was a strong black woman and she told her story.”

That story is now ready to be heard in a unique poetic style: ‘It’s monologue based in the traditional sense of the terms” says Purcell, “But it has a bit more slam and essentially offers a glimpse into a life that many will recognize.”

The 50 page series of monologues may certainly be word heavy, but that’s not something Purcell is shying away from. “The labour is in the words. It’s big, it’s entertaining … but ultimately, this is a story of a woman who worked extremely hard; and that labour is what we’re sharing with our audience. And to understand, it’s important that we listen hard.”

As a performer Purcell is looking forward to sharing Ruby’s story on Belvoir’s mainstage and this one woman show is pulling out all the stops.

“Ruby did more than just try to survive,” shares Purcell, “She understood the strong connections to the bush, to Elders and to country; but she stepped into the city and she learnt to walk both sides of the line – and that is not an easy thing to do.”

Essentially, this is storytelling at its best. There may be no camp-fire but Purcell encourages punters to “bring your ugg boots and get ready for a good story – it’s the old style of sitting down and meeting someone and having a good yarn.”

And storytelling is at the core of a life lived to full. And certainly, Ruby Langford Ginibi’s life is a story that is meant to be shared – and that is exactly what Purcell intends to do: share the story of a strong black woman, a woman who in every way was indeed, a superwoman.