A Creative Music Fund partnership with Bangarra Dance Theatre Australia
Sydney Opera House from 13 June
Canberra Theatre Centre • 17-19 July
State Theatre of WA, Perth • 30 July-2 August
QPAC, Brisbane • 15-23 August
Arts Centre Melbourne • 28 August-6 September
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, Bangarra – Australia’s multi award winning dance theatre company – tells the story of Patyegarang, the inspirational journey of a potent Indigenous spirit alive in Australia’s past and present.
As the colonial fleet arrived on Eora country in the late 18th Century, Patyegarang befriended the colony’s timekeeper, Lieutenant William Dawes, gifting him her language in an extraordinary display of trust and friendship, which now inspires our imaginations about ‘first contact’.
In Dawes’ notebooks, rediscovered in 1972, are transcripts of this remarkable cultural exchange. Patyegarang’s words are a window into a rich, complex and utterly different perspective on her world, its values and its sacred meanings.
Bangarra liberates Patyegarang from the library shelves, putting spirit into her heart, as a striking visionary and educator. This deeply moving production is told through the acclaimed creativity of Stephen Page’s choreography and David Page’s soundscape, in a powerful and meaningful dance theatre experience.
Significantly, Patyegarang is a story belonging to the Eora nation, the custodians of the land on which Bangarra operates at Walsh Bay, Sydney. This new work will mark Stephen Page’s first time exploring a story that from the people of this place. Building on deep relationships cultivated at Bangarra, significantly since the introduction of our Artist-in-Residence Program in 2011, Stephen Page will be collaborating with his closest artistic associates to create Patyegarang. Drawing on the richness of their shared language and original and innovative creative aesthetic, this group of artists will bring the highest standards of expertise to the music, design and costuming of Patyegarang, reuniting and showcasing the best of Bangarra. Guest performer Trevor Jamieson, and an as yet to be confirmed performer in the role of Dawes, will bring additional dynamics to this new work, interacting with Bangarra’s dancers through a choreographic journey, and an exploration of the dance theatre form.
Composer David Page will work with the sounds of stringed instruments, extending his knowledge in fusing natural soundscapes and orchestral music. Others may be involved in the composition, but at this stage the work is still very much in early days. The dynamic design combination of Jacob Nash and Jennifer Irwin will return after winning critical and audience acclaim for their outstanding collaboration on Frances Rings’ Terrain in 2012.
Patyegarang aims to achieve cultural and creative outcomes well beyond the current scope and capacity of Bangarraʼs research and development program. Exploring a story of such historical significance is challenging. There is renewed optimism and increased motivation for improved relationships with Indigenous Australians, as a consequence of the national apology. However there is also more overt racism and denial about the true stories of this country. In many ways Patyegarang, and the story of her interaction with William Dawes, gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we want our future to be as a relatively new nation. For Bangarra, this new work will secure the companyʼs position of strength, at the pinnacle of cultural and artistic integrity as it looks towards the next 25 years.
Choreography Stephen Page
Music David Page
Set Design Jacob Nash
Costume Design Jennifer Irwin
Lighting Design Nick Schlieper
Dramaturgy Alana Valentine