Yarrabah is a town set by the rainforest and the ocean, a meeting place a lot of people with a grassroots connection to the culture and an outlook to the future. Opera Australia wanted to take music to regional Australia, so they took the opportunity to work with the local Yarrabah community.
Writer/director RHODA ROBERTS decided to create a musical in the style of Bran Nue Dae that highlighted a particularly extraordinary historical moment in Queensland where the Yarrabah community went on strike in 1957 to protest against the Queensland Protection Act. This was a protest that changed the face of the community and resulted in the removal of people to Palm Island.
History was made and shared in the tropical Indigenous shire of Yarrabah – This was the first time any Australian Major Arts Performing Company has staged a major production with first nation people.
Artistic Director LYNDON TERRACINI explains “Opera Australia has made an ongoing commitment to telling a broad range of Australian stories, building them from the grass roots up, and making genuine connections with communities. We want to grow our working relationships with Indigenous Australians and create art WITH them.”
Yarrabah is Far North Queensland is one of the largest Indigenous communities in Australia with a median age of 21 and median individual income less than half that in neighbouring Cairns. The community was seeking a moment of reflection: to put together the story of their past with dignity and articulate their aspirations and vision for their future.
YARRABAH! THE MUSICAL was pulled together under the creative eye of leading Indigenous Director and Producer, Rhoda Roberts. This community collaboration culminated in a special new music theatre work attended by over 4,000 people, featuring 60 community performers and telling the moving story of the community’s mission days.
YARRABAH! THE MUSICAL
10 November at 8pm
NITV (Channel 34 free-to-air)