Your Safety & Wellbeing

By ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

This content has expired.


An extraordinary tale told by one of Australia’s living treasures, Uncle Jack Charles. Based on his life and spoken in his own words.

Jack Charles V The Crown made its world premiere on our Fairfax Studio stage as part of Melbourne Festival 2010, and then enthralled audiences once again on the same stage in 2016. You can now watch this incredible production as part of our Vic NAIDOC Week 2020 digital program.

Uncle Jack Charles is an Australian legend: veteran actor, musician, Koori elder and activist, but for a good portion of his 74 years he has also been an addict, a thief and a regular in Victoria’s prisons.

From Stolen Generation to Koori theatre in the 70s, from film sets to Her Majesty’s prisons, Jack Charles V The Crown runs the gamut of a life lived to its utmost. Charles’ unswerving optimism transforms this tale of addiction, crime and doing time into a kind of vagabond’s progress – a map of the traps of dispossession and a guide to reaching the age of grey-haired wisdom.

Accompanied by a three-piece band, this one man show is a theatrical delight brought to us by Australia’s longest running First Nations theatre company.


He has us spellbound as we sit around his campfire. In many ways, too, it’s the story of Australia. Just not the one we’re used to hearing.”



We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the place now called Victoria, and all First Peoples living and working on this land. We celebrate the history and contemporary creativity of the world's oldest living culture and pay respect to Elders – past, present and future.


Post-show Q&A

In this post-show panel Rachel Maza, Dr Lou Bennett AM, Rhoda Roberts AO and Edwina Lunn discuss ‘what is the future of First Nations performing arts’. Filmed after Jack Charles V The Crown in 2016 at Arts Centre Melbourne.


Artist Statements: Jack Charles V The Crown 10 Years Later

Jack Charles V The Crown: 10 Years Later

“Everyone loves the story of a reformed, serial pest, nuisance moving on from a past darkly into and onto the stage; from infamy to fame.” – Uncle Jack Charles

To celebrate the online season of this work, Uncle Jack Charles (writer and performer) and Rachael Maza (Director) reflect on what it was like creating this award-winning production, a decade after its original premiere.


Awards & Nominations

Australia Council Red Ochre Award

Calgary Theatre Critics Award Nomination | Best Touring Show
Victorian Senior Australian of the Year

Helpmann Award | Best Regional Touring Production
The APACA Drover Award | Tour of the Year
Green Room Association Awards | Lifetime Achievement Award – Uncle Jack Charles
Greenroom Lifetime achievement Award

Helpmann Award Nomination | Best Direction of a Play – Rachael Maza
Helpmann Award Nomination | Best Male Actor in a Play – Jack Charles

Tudawali Award at the Message Sticks Festival


About ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

The longest established First Nations theatre company in Australia, ILBIJERRI creates, presents and tours powerful and engaging theatre by First Nations artists that gives voice to our cultures. With almost 30 years of passionate work behind them, ILBIJERRI continues to bring the brilliance and sophistication of bold, black voices to audiences in country halls, community spaces, prisons and major venues, across Australia and the world.


Cast & Creatives

Starring Uncle Jack Charles
Writers Uncle Jack Charles & John Romeril
Director Rachael Maza
Dramaturge John Romeril
Musical Director Nigel MacLean
Guitar & Violin Nigel MacLean
Percussion Phil Collings
Bass Mal Beveridge
Script Consultant Melanie Beddie
Set & Costume Designer Emily Barrie
Lighting Designer Danny Pettingill
Audio Visual Designer Peter Worland
Stage & Production Manager Suzie Franke
Digital Streaming Producer Daniel Riley


Jack Charles V The Crown programme

Read the original show programme from this work’s world premiere in 2010. Includes a note from Jack Charles, co-writer John Romeril and director Rachel Maza.

Download the programme


Watch the film Bastardy

Bastardy is the story of one man’s journey into the light. Filmmaker Amiel Courtin-Wilson follows Jack Charles over seven years – blurring the line between director and accomplice. Footage from this film appears in Jack Charles V The Crown.

More info



ILBIJERRI Theatre Company is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and the City of Melbourne.





If you enjoyed our Vic NAIDOC Week 2020 digital program, we encourage you to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

Here are some great places to start:


Go to the top