Image of two artists wearing black T-shirts standing with heads tilted back, one with eyes closed and one looking up at sky. Smoke floating in front of artists and background has trees all around with different coloured lights shining on them.

YIRRAMBOI; continuing the legacy of leading the way

It’s no easy feat to stand on the shoulders of giants and carry on a legacy of over 4,000 generations of culture, art, and storytelling with a clear direction on how to drive that tradition into the future.

Yet in the wake of her first year (2019) as Creative Director of Australia’s premier First Nations  Festival, Boonwurrung and Wemba Wemba Woman, Caroline Martin, having programmed 200 plus free and ticketed events spotlighting over 300 First Nations Creatives, has done just that. And she is showing no signs of slowing down.

This year, for the first time since it’s inception, YIRRAMBOI put the call-out for artists to pitch their creative works to showcase as part of YIRRAMBOI Festival, 6 to 16 May 2021, and the First Nations Creative community delivered. With an overwhelming response of 28 strong applicants, with over half from the Koorie community, Caroline and her team then had the painstaking task of choosing just 5. But with a clear creative vision in tow and a driving focus on supporting and amplifying the creative voices of its local community, five extraordinary and emerging creatives, working across a variety of mediums and disciplines including music, cabaret, circus, theatre and storytelling where chosen.

YIRRAMBOI proudly presents the 2021 commissions, an interweaving of local Koorie artists with First Nations artists from around Australia, to create a rich tapestry of stunning and sophisticated works.

A fight for survival
Professor Gary Foley and the Northlands Collective

Gumbaynggir activist, academic and Creative, Professor Gary Foley and the Northlands Collective from the Northland Campaign Community Reference Group will present Our Fight for Survival. This cabaret production is an untold story that brings to life the true meaning of community, justice and the failed education system in Northlands Secondary School from 1992. The story spotlights two First Nations students Muthama Sinnapan and Bruce Foley who lodged a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Board claiming that the State’s decision to shut down their school Northland Secondary College was an act of systemic racial discrimination. Three years and one hell of a fight later the Northland Community won the case and the school was re-opened in 1995.

Soul of Possum
Brodie Murray

Wamba Wamba Creative Brodie Murray will present his first theatre piece Soul of Possum, an exploration of institutional hierarchy, social Darwinism and authoritarian control. The play highlights Wamba Wamba survival as First Peoples and explores the contrasting relationships that settlers and First Nations societies have had with Country, ecology, leadership and spirituality. Brodie is a rising star within the First Nations arts community within Victoria, and a graduate of WAAPA in Aboriginal Performance.

Coconut Woman
Dirty Pearl Productions

Meriam Mer (Erub Island) Creative, Dirty Pearl Productions will present Coconut Woman, a comedy and drama musical about finding peace and place. This light hearted, yet important story strongly aligns with YIRRAMBOI’s values of First Nations and self-determination on true and accurate stories as told by First Peoples.  Maryanne Sam from Dirty Pearl Productions is a founding member of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and is currently studying a Master of Writing and Performance at VCA

NGARNGK; Giver of Life
Naz Aree

Bibbulman Noongar/Burmese Creative, Naz Aree, will present the theatre show titled NGARNGK; Giver of Life, exploring the effects of intergenerational trauma caused by colonial interruptions to black motherhood. Well into its development, NGARNGK; Giver of Life was a part of ILIBIJERRI Theatre’s Black Writers Master Class and received an overwhelming response from the audience at Melbourne International Arts Festival.

Harley Mann

Waka Waka Creative Harley Mann will present Invisible Lines, an exploration of the unique and unbreakable bond that connects Aboriginal people. Four emerging indigenous acrobats explore and celebrate what it means to be Aboriginal and to be part of the oldest living culture in the world. The piece tells stories of unseen connections that transcend time, place and boundaries. They are resilient in the face of adversity, and link First Peoples to each other, the land, and their culture.

YIRRAMBOI 2021 is a proclamation of ‘Our Narratives, presented Our Way’. An acknowledgment of what has gone before, and a celebration of what is yet to come.

So please join the stunning YIRRAMBOI team in giving a huge shout to our five chosen World Premieres… CONGRATULATIONS!

Image credit: Opening Night, YIRRAMBOI Festival 2019. Photo by Tiffany Garvie.