CULTURE, feature -

We’re all about this Aboriginal Alice

The giant Sydney Festival (Jan 6-28) will help kick off the New Year with nearly 140 events by 700 artists from 22 countries.

Here are just some of the shows by Indigenous performers:

My Urrwai. In the premiere of this one-woman play, Ghenoa Gela reflects on her cultural and familial inheritance as a Torres Strait Island daughter, dancer and TV star

My Name is Jimi. Torres Strait Islander Jimi Bani showcases four generations of one family. Hear stories from a community fighting to protect its culture and hold on to what matters in a changing world.

Tribunal. The audience is asked to play judge on Australia’s colonial past in this stage production.

Broken Glass. Performed on location at St Bartholomew’s Church and Cemetery in Blacktown, this installation and performance illuminates the rituals of death and mourning of First Peoples’ communities.

Alice in Wonderland. The world’s first Aboriginal Alice, Dubs Yunupingu, stars in this Australian adaptation of the children’s classic from the award-winning playwright Mary Anne Butler.

Also watch out for musical performances such as Emma Donovan and the PutBack’s tribute to Aunty Ruby Hunter and Mission Songs Project – 1957 Palm Island Strike, a presentation of rare contemporary Australian Indigenous songs by Jessie Lloyd.

There are also dance works such as the You Animal, You from Sydney art company Force Majeure.

Interactive performances and classes include Four Thousand Fish at Barangaroo Reserve.

On 10 special days across the festival, Sydneysiders are invited to visit Nawi Cove and create a frozen fish using sea water and a cast mould to help return the fish to the Harbour. The installation will feature a giant nawi (canoe) with a fire lit inside and thousands of fish made of ice.

At Baraya: Sing Up Country, there will be a free one-hour Aboriginal language class learning a song in local language with Darug musician and teacher Aunty Jacinta Tobin, which will then be performed at the morning WugulOra ceremony at Barangaroo on January 26 with a mass choir.

Following overwhelming interest in 2017, Bayala, has doubled its program with an extended range of classes and talks to learn the Aboriginal language of Sydney.

There is also a series of talks called ‘Out of the Vaults’, giving the opportunity to share in the history and knowledge of the communities and individuals who live in and around Sydney.

For more information on the Sydney Festival and ticketing visit


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