First Aboriginal and TSI Playwriting Festival in Sydney for 20 Years

First Aboriginal and TSI Playwriting Festival in Sydney for 20 Years

Bully Beef Stew 2011 Photo by Cat Jones courtesy of PACT

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 18.01.13

Dates: 27.01.13 : 09.02.13

The first Aboriginal playwriting festival in Sydney for over two decades. Yellamundie: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Playwriting Festival is a landmark writing event which will take place over two weeks from 27 January 2013. The Festival brings together one of the largest gatherings of Aboriginal directors, actors and playwrights ever to work together at one time in Sydney, and culminates in a series of free play readings at Carriageworks from 7 to 9 February.

Yellamundie [Dharug word for storyteller] is a powerful celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander arts and culture. The Festival is about Aboriginal stories, as told by Aboriginal people. It provides a rare opportunity for Aboriginal writers to collaborate with their peers over an intensive two week period in a dynamic exchange of ideas. The end result will be a contemporary showcase of Aboriginal writing talents, as festival organisers unearth six hard-hitting new plays by writers from urban and regional areas across Australia.

Yellamundie is an initiative of the National Indigenous Theatre Forum reflecting the longstanding history and rich legacy of nurturing Indigenous theatre. Plays selected for development include: Weight by Jada Alberts, Dust by Suzanne (Jub) Clerc, First Contact by Jane Harrison, Cuz by Billy McPherson, Crowbones and Carnivores by David Milroy and The Lighthouse by Sermsah Bin Saad. The scripts were selected following an extensive national call out in 2012. A national assessment committee drawn from the National Indigenous Theatre Forum selected the final six.

The Festival’s plays tell stories from both the city and the bush and provide a timely snapshot of life in contemporary Aboriginal Australia today. Common themes include the devastation caused to people and place by mining industries; the challenges of relationships between older and young Aboriginal Australians; suicide and its impact on family, community and spirituality; and tribal traditions within a contemporary Australian landscape.

Over the Festival, the writers will work with three accomplished directors. Frederick Copperwaite – Artistic Director of both Yellamundie and Moogahlin Performing Arts whose most recent directing work This Fella, My Memory was in creative development at Carriageworks in 2012. Andrea James – the newly appointed Artistic Associate at Carriageworks and an accomplished director and playwright. Her most recent work Winyanboga Yurringa has just been selected for the 2013 National Playwriting Festival to be held in Perth in February 2013. Isaac Drandic – Associate Director at Ilbijerri in Melbourne and director of Corranderk which played to critical acclaim at the Sydney Opera House last year.

“The key focus of Yellamundie is to identify and develop new work that displays the potential for further production. The ideal outcome for any of these writers would be that an Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal theatre company would pick up the work and continue the creative development process that has been initiated here. The public readings are aimed at the national Aboriginal theatre community, directors and companies, as well as non-Aboriginal theatre directors, producers and companies, while at the same time attracting local Redfern/Waterloo Aboriginal community and organisations and the general public. We want to create as wide an engagement as possible, because these are all great stories and they deserve telling,” said Yellamundie Artistic Director Frederick Copperwaite.

Presented by Moogahlin Performing Arts, Carriageworks and the Sydney Festival.


Dates: 27 January to 9 February 2013
Where Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh, Sydney Tickets FREE (bookings required please visit Carriageworks website for bookings)
Information: Carriageworks or Sydney Festival


Jada Alberts
Jada is a Larrakia, Bardi, Wadaman and Yanuwa woman from the Top End of Australia. She also has Filipino and Dutch heritage. She graduated in 2006 from the Adelaide Centre for the Arts with an Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting) and in 2007 Jada won the Adelaide Critics Circle Award for Best Emerging Artist for her performance in What I Heard About Iraq (Holden St. Theatre).

Jada has appeared on stage in Frost/Nixon and The Birthday Party (Melbourne Theatre Company), Second to None (Vitalstatistix and Kurruru Performing Arts), Cat (Windmill Performing Arts), Yibiyung (Belvoir St/Malthouse), Wulamanayuwi And The Seven Pamanui (Darwin Festival), and several national and international tours of Saltbush (Insight Arts). She has also participated in creative development projects and workshops for Melbourne Workers' Theatre, ATYP, Playwriting Australia, Arena Theatre, Real TV and STCSA. Jada also had a guest appearance in series 3 of television drama Rush (Ten Network) and plays the character of Toni Goodes in the upcoming Prisoner remake, Wentworth (Foxtel), airing on the SoHo channel in 2013. In 2011 Jada was the Assistant Director for Belvoir St’s Windmill Baby and The Dark Room. Weight is based on a true story and is Jada’s first play for theatre.

David Milroy
David Milroy was the first Artistic Director of Yirra Yaakin Aboriginal Theatre and in 2002 received a Myer Award for his contribution to the development of Indigenous theatre. David was a guest Director of the American Playwrights Conference in 2002 and has attended the Australian National Playwrights Conference on a number of occasions as a writer and Director. David received the 2004 Patrick White Award and the 2005 Equity Guild Award for his play Windmill Baby and a Deadly Award for his music in the same production. David was also a finalist in the Helpmann Awards and received two Equity Guild Awards in 2011 for his play Waltzing the Wilarra.

Jane Harrison
Jane Harrison is a descendant of the Muruwari people of NSW. Her first play Stolen has been performed in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Tasmania, WA, the UK (twice), Hong Kong and Tokyo, and has had readings in Canada, New York and Los Angeles. Stolen was the co-winner of the Kate Challis RAKA Award 2002 and has appeared on the English syllabi in Victoria and NSW. Rainbow’s End premiered in Melbourne (2005), has had a Tokyo production, toured to 33 venues throughout Australia in 2011 and is currently on the NSW English syllabus. She contributed a chapter to Many Voices, Reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation, and her published essay, Healing our communities, healing ourselves, and Indig-curious: who can play Aboriginal roles? published by Currency House in 2012. Jane co-wrote one episode of the first series of The Circuit. She convened the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Indigenous Writing, was a judge for the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award Drama prize, and has an MA in Playwriting from QUT.

Jub Clerc
Jub Clerc is a Nyul Nyul/ Yawuru woman from the Kimberley region of WA. Graduating in 1997 from Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a Diploma of Performing Arts, Clerc spent several years travelling across Australia performing at theatres including Sydney Theatre and The Malthouse for numerous companies including Black Swan Theatre, Yirra Yaakin, Ilbijerri and Darwin Theatre Co. She has been nominated for Best Actress in the WA Actors Equity Awards for her performance in Black Swan Theatre’s - Man with 5 Children. Turning her eye to film and television more recently, Clerc has also worked as Casting Director and Dramaturge on award winning productions including The Circuit 1 & The Circuit 2 , Bran Nue Dae, Mad Bastards, Satellite Boy and Jandamarra’s War to name a few. She has written and directed shorts films, Storytime and Music Men which have successfully screened on television and at Festivals around the world. Clerc has also performed as a Soprano in Pecan Summer - the world’s first Aboriginal Opera. Dust will be Clerc’s first play for theatre.

Billy McPherson
Billy McPherson is originally from the Kamillaroi in south-west Queensland. He recently had his short film Nalingu (Yours and Mine) selected for screening at Sydney Opera House, as part of Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival 2012. Billy will be touring nationally in July 2013 as a performer with acclaimed theatre production, I’m Your Man, which was voted in the 2012 theatre picks by The Sydney Morning Herald. Cuz is Billy’s first foray into theatre.

Sermsah Bin Saad
Sermsah is a dancer, singer, actor and published author of children’s poetry. A dedicated artist in the truest sense, he has had a strong interest in writing since a young age. In his early artistic career he has focused on dancing and more recently has turned his hand to writing. Recently he had the opportunity to workshop a New Aboriginal Comedy Show for ABC with the writers of the Kath and Kim Series and Comedy Inc. The Yellamundie Playwriting Festival is a dream come true for the young artist.

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