Beautiful One Day is a theatrical documentary about the irrepressible life and times of Palm Island. Three theatre companies (Belvoir, Ilbijerri, and version 1.0) came together in 2011 over a shared sense of outrage at the injustices surrounding a death in custody in 2004. But, prompted by the Palm Island community, Beautiful One Day looks for a way to turn outrage into real understanding and new possibilities. At its heart is a determined struggle to understand the persistent heavy-handedness of white Australia.

In 1918 the Queensland Government established a settlement at Palm Island where, for the next 50 years, thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across the state were forcibly resettled. In 2004, following the “accidental” death of Mulrunji Doomadgee in a police cell, and frustrated by the state response, members of the community on Palm Island made a direct challenge to police power by surrounding the station and burning it down. Eight years later, the people of Palm Island continue to demand real justice, and all the while life continues.

An antidote to the relentlessly negative media coverage, Beautiful One Day interweaves the stories of Palm Island, the diktats of white Australia, and the voices of the community. Made through conversation, through argument, through long walks and frequent eruptions of joyfulness, this is a show about what an honest talk might really look like.


Devisor/AV Designer Sean Bacon
Devisor/Performer/Cultural Consultant Magdalena Blackley
Devisor/Performer Kylie Doomadgee
Devisor/Performer Paul Dwyer
Devisor Eamon Flack
Devisor/Performer Rachael Maza
Devisor/Performer Jane Phegan
Devisor/Performer Harry Reuben
Devisor David Williams

Set & Costume Designer Ruby Langton-Batty
Lighting Designer Frank Mainoo 
Composer & Sound Designer Paul Prestipino
Stage Manager Edwina Guinness



Anger, humour and hope are finely balanced in this warm and illuminating evening of theatre. Of the many and varied stage experiences seen this year, this stands out as one of the essential.

Jason Blake | The Sydney Morning Herald

Beautiful One Day is strong enough, bold enough, entertaining enough and sufficiently shocking to keep a big mob enthralled for almost its entire two and a bit hours.

Diana Simmonds | Stage Noise

Regardless of your view on documentary theatre, this is one of the most unique and important performances of the year.

Miro Sandev | Arts Hub

Most important, [Beautiful One Day] brings together human testimony of these and other experiences, with devisor-performers Magdalena Blackley and Harry Reuben from Palm Island, as well as newcomer Kylie Doomadgee and veteran Rachael Maza, whose family, including her famous father Bob Maza, have a past there. Their presence as witnesses … is powerful.

John McCallum | The Australian

…the cast weaves reportage, interviews, transcripts and documents with sound and video to create a vivid, poignant, political and often unexpectedly funny work of theatre that demands our full attention, deserves it and rewards it.

Elissa Blake | The Sun-Herald

Beautiful One Day is confronting and strangely comforting.

Dave Drayton | The Music