A Kimberley story that speaks to everyone
The show seen in the Kimberley will be a new and different production to the Perth 2008 season, in many respects.
The tour will be presented by Bunuba Films. Black Swan was not in a position to commit to such a large undertaking as this tour. They remain strongly supportive of the Jandamarra project, and will be providing us with important background and behind the scenes support.
As any dynamic production as ambitious as Jandamarra should, we are taking the opportunity to grow and improve, and to rectify problems that were apparent in the debut season.
In terms of the physical aspects of production we have no choice but to make changes. A feature of the Perth season, staged in the cavernous spaces of the Convention Centre, was a towering multi-level set with cloth and paper flats that also served as a screen for the projected animations. An entirely new touring set will be required suitable for the rigours of the Kimberley environment, and adaptable to each of the four unique venues.
A new creative and design team has been brought together to meet these challenges.
Director Phil Thomson will bring his own particular vision and experience to the show. Phil is one of Western Australia’s most experienced and respected theatre practitioners, with a special and long standing affinity with Indigenous and cross cultural theatre in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Phil has worked with playwright Steve Hawke on a rewrite that tightens the original script, and sharpens the focus on some of the central themes. It introduces dynamic action scenes and enables a more direct communication between cast and audience.
A major development workshop was held at the University of Notre Dame’s Fremantle campus in July 2009, to road test the new script, the interaction of the cast with the new creative team, and explore the new directions and elements of the play. Phil could not have been more pleased: “Overall the week was a tremendous success. I was still getting feedback a month later from industry members about the new Jandamarra and how well the workshop went. There is a new buzz about the play, from the cast and industry… I have developed a great working relationship with the entire cast, and feel strong and creatively ready to put this work together as soon as the time is right.”
Since then, leading Perth practitioners, Designer Bryan Woltjen and lighting Designer Jo Mercurio have signed on to the project, and are developing exciting ideas for the new production. Composer David Pye will create a new score and sound effects, with extensive utilisation of Kimberley sounds that will reinforce the tour’s theme of bringing together country and performance.
One of the leading lights of British theatre, Tim Supple, joined the development team as an Artistic Mentor. Tim, who has directed in the UK for the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Young Vic, amongst others, became familiar with the Jandamarra project when his Dash Arts company brought an epic pan-Indian production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to the 2008 Perth Festival as part of a world tour. Tim has described Jandamarra as “one of the most important theatre events happening in the world at this time.”
In July 2010 this team undertook a tour of the four Kimberley venues, and then were joined by animation artist Kaylene Marr for a workshop at at the University of Notre Dame’s Broome campus.
We will leave no stone unturned in our determination to make the Jandamarra Returns tour a deadly show. That is an important cultural objective in its own right. However we also see the Kimberley tour as a first step in the ongoing evolution of Jandamarra into a production with a touring future in Australia and overseas.