Most of us are probably aware that the bones of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are in the collections of cultural institutions around the world, and that they are gradually being returned to country. What isn’t so well known is how and why they were taken in the first place, the extent of these collections – including some in private hands – and how slowly these remains are being handed back. The Returnshines a light on the painful truth behind this neglected aspect not just of our history but also the present.

The Return at Malthouse Theatre, May 2022. Photo © Pia Johnson. The Return

This new Matlhouse Theatre production commissioned by the RISING festivalis co-directed by Malthouse’s Artistic Director Matthew Lutton and Jason Tamiru, who also works in the repatriation of First Nations human remains. His knowledge, experience and insights have been distilled by Torres Strait Islander playwright John Harvey, whose story shifts between three loose time periods in Australia.

In the...