In recent months, I've been on an extraordinary journey as the WaPa Muylatina Creative Producer at Performing Lines Tas, mentored by Sinsa Mansell. Here is just a tiny a glimpse of my adventures:
From day one, I've been immersed in stories that need to be told and voices that need to be heard. A highlight was being invited to an exclusive first reading of 'The Line,' the upcoming production by acclaimed First Nation’s writer, Nathan Maynard.
Nathan Maynard, a proud Trawlwoolway man from larapuna country in North East Tasmania, has established himself as a celebrated playwright on the national stage. Many of Nathan’s productions have gone on to have successful nation tours. Recently, his thought-provoking play, ‘At What Cost’, recently returned to its roots and inspiration in Tasmania, where it captivated an audience all too familiar with the story it tells.
Another one of his works, ‘Hide the Dog’, was featured at the Rising Festival in Melbourne. Nathan’s much-needed storytelling continues to draw attention, with upcoming performances scheduled for the Brisbane Festival this year.
After witnessing Nathan's work, you'll understand that it does more than merely retell stories. His narratives transform history, redefining and reinterpreting our perceptions and understanding of culture in contemporary society.
For his brand new and upcoming production, ‘The Line’, Nathan draws inspiration from the harrowing historical event, 'The Black Line’. The Line is bound to provoke thought and inspire conversation, reflecting the complex layers of history and its impact on the present.
My experience of being invited to an industry-invite-only event and see of the early stages of a Nathan Maynard production is truly an incredible experience. As a respected Tasmanian Aboriginal writer, he's someone many of look up to.
I was seated in a room filled with some of the most respected creatives in the industry, and we were all eager to participate in the journey of Nathan’s new work. I quickly noticed I was the youngest in the room. Initially, it felt somewhat daunting, but that feeling was fleeting as I acknowledged what an amazing opportunity I had been given to learn about what goes on behind the scenes from the people who do it the best.
This experience is exactly what Nathan Maynard's work epitomizes. Bridging gaps, and forging new understandings between history and present.
I had the immense privilege of welcoming Chloe Quayle, known by many as BARKAA, onto our traditional lands here in Tasmania. BARKAA is a Malyangapa, Barkindji woman and internationally renowned rapper from Western Sydney. She has been named by GQ as "the new matriarch of Australian rap” and has also been listed as one of the Top 5 female rappers in Australia by ABC’s Triple J. Only three years into her career, she is someone to watch.
BARKAA and her incredible team were here in Hobart/Nipaluna to perform at The Gathering for Dark Mofo’s First Nations takeover at the Hanging Garden. Prior to their performance, they reached out to be welcomed onto our country - a powerful gesture that reflects their deep respect for cultural traditions.
For those not familiar with the tradition, a 'Welcome to Country' is a special ceremony conducted by first-nations people to welcome visitors onto their ancestral lands. This ancient practice can take many forms, including singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies, or a speech in our traditional language or English.
While we’re on the topic, I would like to share the difference between a 'Welcome to Country' and an 'Acknowledgement of Country.' A 'Welcome to Country' is a formal ceremony that can only be performed by a representative of the local Indigenous community, while an 'Acknowledgement of Country' can be given by anyone, Indigenous or non-Indigenous, as a way of paying respect to the traditional custodians of the land where an event is taking place.
As BARKAA's team sought a Welcome to Country, they offered a glimpse into their creative process as artists that values cultural inclusivity and learning. In response, we offered them an experience deeply rooted in the heritage and traditions that are unique to our lands.
Afterwards, as part of this Welcome to Country, we had lunch prepared by Kitana Mansell and her business, Palawa Kipli. We ate a variety of native foods from our lands, including the famous Mutton Bird (Yula).
I wish BARKAA and her team every success in their ongoing creative journey, confident that their experiences on our lands will continue to resonate within their work and life. BARKAA is a great representative of our culture and what we stand for, it is through people like her that we will continue to see the impact and importance of indigenous voices in Australia.
APAM (Australian Performing Arts Market):
The Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) was initially a mystery to me when applying for the WaPa Muylatina Creative Producer Mentorship. But as I learned more, I discovered APAM's role as a showcase platform for Australian artists, producers, and companies on both a national and international scale. It's a networking event, learning opportunity, and a promotional stage for talent, ranging from contemporary dance to experimental theatre and breathtaking operas. The bonds, networks and friends I created at APAM will stick with me for a long time.
CAT (Contemporary Arts Tasmania)
I spent a day at Contemporary Arts Tasmania.
Contemporary Art Tasmania (CAT) is an independent, non-collecting public gallery that supports artists and audiences by facilitating production, exhibition development and presentation, touring and the interpretation of works by living artists. It is integral to the visual arts ecology in Tasmania.
During my visit to Contemporary Art Tasmania, I was guided by Michael Edwards, the Director. Michael offered insights and a richer understanding of the wider contemporary arts landscape. He shared anecdotes from his own personal journey and provided some light on CAT’s evolution. Michael was around when CAT evolved from the artist-run-initiative, Chameleon, founded in 198. Through Michaels presence and commitment at the organisation, CAT still retains the collective, artist-driven ethos that they were founded upon.
Michael and his wonderful team of staff: Colin Langridge, Kylie Johnson, Nadia Refaei, and Pip Stafford have such a depth of commitment to artist development that supports living artists and arts workers at all career stages through delivering ongoing curatorial and governance mentorship programs for more than 25 years, as well as the high- level artist development program Shotgun and, more recently, an enhanced studio-based development program. CAT evolved from the artist-run-initiative, Chameleon, founded in 1982 and retains the collective, artist-driven ethos of the model. Its programs continue to be selected or developed through panels of experts in the field.
In my journey as a storyteller, these experiences are the kind of lessons you cannot learn within four walls. They seep into you, shaping your craft, enriching your perspective. And they can only be found in the shared experiences of our community, in the stories of our elders, and in the rich history of our culture.
Here's to more stories, to amplifying voices that deserve to be heard, and to a future where our narratives continue to thrive.
Supported by Regional Arts Tasmania (RANT)