Themes & Values
The Lost Voice
Olivia's lost voice is certainly the central metaphor within Spirits in Bare Feet. The fact that Olivia's voice is actually stolen from her by evil characters means a lot in itself. It is representative of the many people in our world whose voices cannot be heard, or are ignored by more powerful people and groups. In the case of the play, this directly refers to the Aboriginal people who consider the Gummingurru site to be sacred and are having it striped away from them. The boy who also has a lost voice shows that there are many people who believe in the same thing, and their opinions are still ignored. The message this character conveys insists that if oppressed people worked together to fight for their beliefs, they would be much stronger than they would be on their own.
The shoes worn by Olivia are constantly referred to as they are an important theme within the play. They are used as a symbol of what is safe and 'the right thing to do; in this story. They are a constant reminder of the domestic space and the home that she came from before she jumped the fence and running into the bush. This is made obvious at the end of the story when Olivia is confronted by the Rainbow Snake and asked to remove her shoes so she can feel the presence of the earth.
The Meeting/Story Place
The story land scenes at the end of the show are integral to the development of the story because they re-tell real historical events. These scenes create juxtaposition between the fictional story of Olivia and the bushland animals, and the real events that occurred with Ben and Jean at the Gummingurru site. This becomes a very important part of the play because it directly explains the underlying message of the story and highlights to issues being explored.
The totems in the story land scene represent different Aboriginal tribes and the history of Gummingurru. Each animal acts as the representation for each individual tribe. These stone carvings prove the importance of this area as a sacred meeting place and a historical site.