Yirramboi Festival: Yirramboi Weelam 2019
DATES: 02-12 May 2019
LOCATION: assorted as per program
From 2 to 12 May, Australia’s premier First Peoples arts and cultural event YIRRAMBOI Festival will fill the city with an exciting program of free and low cost events across music, dance, theatre, film, exhibitions, markets, fashion parades, family-friendly events, talks and symposiums, at more than 25 different venues. YIRRAMBOI means ‘tomorrow’ in the shared local languages of the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung peoples and the 2019 Festival has this idea at its core, presenting a future-focused celebration of the sophistication, diversity and continuous evolution of the longest living cultures of First Peoples. Curated by Creative Director, Boonwurrung woman Caroline Martin, YIRRAMBOI presents close to 100 events that will celebrate and demonstrate innovative, modern practices of First Nations creatives, showcasing unique talents and perspectives.
Night River – KIN Commission
YIRRAMBOI Weelam, Meat Market, North Melbourne
Fri 3/5 & Sat 4/5 – 7.00pm
Kalaji is the Nyikina word for ‘whirlwind’, originating from the Mardoowarra River of far north Western Australia. Kalaji is also the musical alias for in-demand screen and theatre actor Mark Coles Smith. In between winning a Helpmann Award for his role in Leah Purcell’s adaptation of The Drover’s Wife, and receiving AACTA nominations for his film roles in Last Cab to Darwin and Pawno, Mark has also appeared in numerous US television series. Night River is his first major experimental work under the alias Kalaji and a must-see immersive multimedia performance.
Tales of an Urban Indian (Canada)
Theatre - bus departs from Meat Market
Fri 3/5 & Sat 4/5 – 7.00pm, Sun 5/5 – 12pm & 2.00pm
Tales of an Urban Indian is a dark comedy about the life of Simon Douglas, a contemporary First Nations man raised on the reserve in British Columbia and the streets of downtown Vancouver. Uniquely staged on a moving bus driving around city locations, Simon encounters a variety of people who shape his journey. Simon finds hope as the play explores themes of survival and forgiveness, and examines issues of race and identity. The production has played all across Canada and in the United States, from remote communities to major urban centres.
Blak Mass - Naretha Williams
Saturday 4/5 - 11.00pm, Melbourne Town Hall
Following on from 2017’s stunning Federation Bells ritual performance Circle, Naretha Williams presents her second work in this series, combining the gargantuan Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ and live electronics to realise her complex progressive compositions based on her own DNA. Blak Mass reflects on the city’s jarring civic history and the impact of colonisation on its First Peoples and Land, through an experimental, site specific musical performance developed for the Grand Organ. Blak Mass considers the Grand Organ as a significant symbol of European domination and reaches deep into the psyche of the instrument to create a haunting, avant-garde sound work.
Dan Sultan with special guests Alice Skye and Kalaji
Sunday 5/5 - 4.00pm, Melbourne Town Hall
ARIA award–winning alternative rock legend Dan Sultan as he performs exclusive songs for the Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ, before his soulful voice and guitar fill the iconic space and captivate audiences in an electrifying concert. Support comes from outstanding performers Alice Skye (indie folk darling and winner of the 2018 Triple J Unearthed/National Indigenous Music Award) and Kalaji (the musical alias of award-winning actor Mark Coles Smith), both premiering new works composed in language, specially commissioned by City of Melbourne.
The Honouring – KIN Commission
Dance – La Mama Courthouse – 349 Drummond Street, Carlton
Tue 7/5 – 6.30pm, Wed 8/5 – 1.00pm & 7.30pm, Thu 9/5, Fri 10/5 & Sat 11/5 – 7.30pm
The Honouring is a provocative new solo work from physical performer and actor Jack Sheppard (Kurtjar people, Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York). Jack’s meditations on the nature of culture, ritual and performance are reflected in The Honouring. Addressing suicide and trauma within First Nations communities, the work poses a deeply taboo question: when suicide is played out almost every day, does it then become a practice of ritual that has become weaved into our cultural identity? Through movement, dialogue, text and puppetry, The Honouring explores the transitions that the spirits take after suicide, and pays homage to their souls. Jack maps the journey of grief and acceptance that those left behind must travel. This is an unmissable world premiere event from a powerful new voice in emerging theatre."
Looking for Tiger Lily (USA)
Dance/theatre – Meat Market
Wed 8/5, Thu 9/6 & Fri 10/5 – 6.15pm
Performing as Portland’s premier drag clown Carla Rossi, Anthony Hudson presents Looking For Tiger Lily, putting a queer spin on the ancestral traditions of storytelling through song, dance, drag and video. Carla asks what it means for a queer mixed First Nations person to experience their heritage through the lens of white normative culture. Growing up watching the 1960 production of Peter Pan – featuring Sondra Lee’s blonde, blue-eyed ‘Indian Princess’ Tiger Lily – Carla performs a repertoire from a conflicted cowboys-versus-Indians songbook. From Disney’s Pocahontas to Cher’s ‘Half-Breed’, Looking For Tiger Lily explores universal themes of innocence and experience beyond simple autobiography.
Blood Quantum – KIN Commission
Wed 8/5, Thu 9/5 & Fri 10/5 - 7.00pm, Sat 11/5 - 6.00pm
Dance - WXYZ Studios - 130 Dryburgh Street, North Melbourne
Based on real-life stories from her maternal grandparents who were part of the Stolen Generations, Blood Quantum is a new performance piece choreographed by Ngioka Bunda-Heath. This production is a unique family affair, exploring the childhood stories of Ngioka’s grandparents as recorded and woven into academic research by Professor Tracey Bunda, the artist’s mother. Blood Quantum examines the brutality of Australia’s government-sponsored displacement and relocation of Aboriginal youth, and its impact across three generations. Ngioka trained with Bangarra Dance Company’s Youth Program, currently dances for DubaiKungkaMiyalk (DKM) and has performed internationally as an independent artist. Blood Quantum was developed at Arts House Melbourne as part of the Indigenous Choreographers Residency.
Fri 10/5 & Sat 11/5 – 7.00pm, Sun 12/5 – 5.00pm
150 Princes Street, North Carlton
Montreal-based dance company Lara Kramer Danse presents the fierce and visceral Windigo. Returning to her grandmother’s home in the Lac Seul Reserve in north western Ontario as part of Treaty 3, Lara Kramer confronts a latent war lurking under the surface. A northern epic with the air of a post-apocalyptic ballad, Windigo exorcises the demons and undercurrents of the violence perpetrated against First Nation peoples on Turtle Island.
Lara Kramer Danse (LKD) is a Montreal-based dance company supporting the research, creation, production and touring of Lara Kramer’s choreographies. Lara is a choreographer and multidisciplinary artist of mixed Oji-Cree and settler heritage whose works feature strong visuals and narratives exploring the strength and fragility of the human spirit."
YIRRAMBOI has commissioned four emerging and mid-career First Nations practitioners based in Victoria to develop and showcase their work, known as the KIN Commissions (the Knowledge Industry Network). The YIRRAMBOI KIN Commissions provide direct support, resources and advice to early and intermediate career artists, to create, develop and present new work as part of YIRRAMBOI Festival 2019. The KIN Commissions place First Nations voices first and provide the authority to determine ‘our narratives, presented our way’. Four extraordinary new voices, working across a variety of mediums and disciplines – dance, theatre, visual arts, music and storytelling – present world premieres of their work throughout the Festival.
Night River by Kalaji (Mark Coles Smith)
YIRRAMBOI FESTIVAL 2019 PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
YIRRAMBOI’s Festival hub, YIRRAMBOI Weelam, which means ‘YIRRAMBOI’s home’, will be housed in North Melbourne’s Meat Market. With a full program of events across the festival, a communal fire in the courtyard, food stalls and bars, audiences are invited to cosy up pre and post-show at the venue. The following events are free to attend.
• The opening ceremony at YIRRAMBOI Weelam kicks off the festivities with performances across a breadth of modern artforms including Deborah Cheetham, Homelands and Soju Gang.
• The Bad Apples Music House Party brings the rukus to YIRRAMBOI Weelam with protégés from the label of local hip hop legend Briggs.
• Blak Market X Sunday Jam Session will showcase 20 First Nations businesses across fashion, jewellery, crafts and bush food, along with chilled acoustic vibes from local music performers.
• In its Victorian debut, the world-famous Miss First Nation, a talent-based pageant for drag entertainers, takes place over three nights, starting with Drag Bingo followed by heats including Miss Talent & Best National Costume, before the queen is crowned in a grand final spectacular.
• Kutcha’s Carpool Koorioke four short films directed by John Harvey, featuring Mutti Mutti songman Kutcha Edwards cruising the ‘Dirty Mile’ of Fitzroy with Archie Roach, Alice Skye, Dan Sultan, Bart Willoughby and special guest Uncle Jack Charles.
On Saturday 4 May, Melbourne’s iconic public spaces, laneways and green spaces will host an epic free program of more than 40 pop-up events in a citywide Blak-out known as Barring Yanabul.
• Deborah Cheetham X The Dhungala Children’s Choir
• Freshies Block Party in Hosier Lane, featuring a fashion parade of First Nations models showcasing the Freshies Streetwear label, hosted by designer Jaeden Williams with live graffiti artists and DJ Sky Thomas on the decks.
• Ilid Kaolo (Taiwan) and singer-songwriter Alice Skye showcasing rarely heard traditional Taiwanese music from Ilid and songs from Alice’s debut album, Friends with Feelings
Barring Yannabul culminates in a youth takeover of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall with Kate ten Buuren’s dis rupt, followed by Yothu Yindi’s The Treaty Project – a ticketed concert at Hamer Hall.
MELBOURNE TOWN HALL CONCERTS
The Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ is the focus for two world premiere performances:
• Naretha William’s Blak Mass – a haunting avant-garde site-specific sound work that considers the Grand Organ as a significant symbol of European domination.
• ARIA award-winning rock legend Dan Sultan performing exclusive songs supported by outstanding young artists Alice Skye and Kalaji, who are both premiering new works performed in language.
Commissioned by YIRRAMBOI as part of the KIN (Knowledge Industry Network) initiative, four emerging and mid-career Victorian-based First Nations practitioners premiere their works.
• Night River by Kalaji is an immersive, multimedia telling of Ancestral stories and the first major work under the name Kalaji, the musical alias of Helpmann Award winning actor Mark Coles Smith (The Drover’s Wife, Last Cab to Darwin and Pawno)
• Blood Quantum, performed and choreographed by Ngioka Bunda-Heath, is based on real-life stories from her maternal grandparents who were part of the Stolen Generations.
• Joel Bray’s Daddy is a saccharine and at times sinister examination of the colonial condition, his relationship with his father and queer adulthood.
• Jack Sheppard’s The Honouring is a provocative solo work combining movement, dialogue, text and puppetry, developed on themes of suicide and its effect on communities.
In 2018, YIRRAMBOI participated in Pulima, a Taiwanese First Nations Festival, and established an exciting new reciprocal relationship between Australian and Taiwanese First Nations creatives. At this year’s YIRRAMBOI Festival, First Nations Taiwanese artists will deliver cross-cultural collaborations:
• The winner of Miss First Nation Taiwan Rose Mary performing in Melbourne;
• Ilid Kaolo in concert with Alice Skye revisiting their 2018 collaboration created for Pulima;
• Performance artist Dondon Hounwn accompanying Peter Waples-Crowe’s exhibition insideOUT with Smapux – a spiritual healing ritual from the Taiwanese performance artist;
• Labay Eyong’s exhibition Red Dinosaur, reflecting on her role as a woman and mother in contemporary Taiwanese culture and weaving workshops with local artist Glenda Nicholls.
• Founder of Taiwan’s TAI Body Theatre WatanTusi in collaboration with local performance artist Carly Sheppard will showcase choreography piece Red Earth.
TALKS & SYMPOSIUMS
2019 has been declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages and in honour the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL) will present two symposiums facilitated by qualified Victorian linguists, Lee Healy and Harley Dunolly-Lee. Each explore how the revival of First Nations languages is critical to cultural strengthening, health and wellbeing, education and reconciliation.
Paola Balla and Arika Roo Waulu lead a series of Critical Conversations, including a public panel event and invitation-only workshops exploring the importance of Koorie representation in major public, arts and cultural institutions and in shaping policy decisions. Rachael Maza and Tiriki Onus will share stories and cultural practices in two special editions of The History Salon.
YIRRAMBOI venue partners
Arts Centre Melbourne - Arts House - La Mama - Melbourne Recital Centre
Tickets on sale tonight yirramboi.net.au
Follow #YIRRAMBOI for updates in the lead up to and during the festival
All thanks to our friends at the Prue Bassett Publicity Bohemian Rhapsody Weekly Magazine is proudly covering the two festival events:#TalesOfAnUrbanIndian (Canada) - media Marina Skliar and #DanSultanwith special guests Alice Skye and Kalaji - media Stuart Buchanan) Please stay tuned for mode details.