NAIDOC Week is fast approaching, and with it, celebrations and recognition of the culture and history of Australia’s First Nations people. This year’s theme is Heal Country, and from July 4 to 11 events will be taking place across the city led by the Traditional Owners of the land Perth rests on, the Whadjuk Noongar people.
Participating in NAIDOC Week activities this year are Indigenous theatre company, Yirra Yaakin. Meaning “Stand Tall” in Noongar language, Yirra Yaakin theatre company have provided the Indigenous community with an artistic outlet for or positive self-determination since their founding in 1993. Today, they remain one of Perth’s most eminent theatre companies and cultural leaders in community.
Over the course of the week, Yirra Yaakin will be holding public performances of their school show Bilya Kaatijin, a Ngalaka Daa Ensemble performance and Yirra Yaarnz, two days of readings from emerging West Australian Aboriginal playwrights.
Part of Yirra Yaakin’s schools program, the theatre company create and perform shows designed to educate young audiences (Kindergarten to Year 6) with important stories about Indigenous culture and caring for the land we live on. This NAIDOC Week, Yirra Yaakin will put on a public performances of their school show, Bilya Kaatijin for families, held at various locations across Perth.
Translated from Noongar, Bilya Kaatijin means ‘fresh water knowledge,’ and represents the fourth and final installation in Yirra Yaakin’s Kaatijin series. The performance uses the theme of fresh water to connect stories from First Nations people around the world, from local Noongar land to Aotearoa New Zealand to the Kikuyu people of Kenya. Be swept along in a Dreaming story that travels the globe, teaching young audiences about the importance of accepting others, the power of empathy and how climate change is affecting the land and the six Noongar seasons.
Performance 1 – TBC Due to Lockdown
Saturday July 3, 10am & 12noon
Prendiville Catholic College
Monday July 5, 6pm
Performance 3 – TBC Due to Lockdown
Tuesday July 6, 11am & 1pm
WA Maritime Museum, Fremantle
In a stunning collaboration between Yirra Yaakin and the Western Australian Youth Theatre Company comes Ngalaka Daa meaning “Our Tongue”. A continuation of their Youth Ensemble, this program is driven by the sharing of Noongar culture and language with a young generation of Australians. Participants between ages 15 and 26 will showcase skills in theatre making learned in workshops leading up to NAIDOC Week, when a curated selection of shows will be performed for the public. Please note that this performance has been restricted to invited guests only, due to lockdown restrictions.
Throughout their preparations for these performances, members of the Ngalaka Daa Ensemble gain important skills in movement, voice, single and ensemble performance, and experience the arts alongside industry leaders. Not only do participants have the opportunity to learn from industry experts, but this program aids the survival of the ancient Noongar language while promoting cultural awareness and reconciliation within the community.
Storytelling is at the heart of Yirra Yaarnz as emerging local writers, actors and theatre practitioners explore scripts and perform play readings. In a culmination of the program, the top performers will read their work in a special NAIDOC Week session held at The Blue Room Theatre at 2pm on July 9 & 10, and live-streamed to partner organisations before being taken into the community for presentation, showcasing the importance of storytelling and performance as it relates to Aboriginal culture. The play reading will be followed by a Q & A session, where audience members can ask the professionals on stage about these new works.