I wanted to make My Urrwai for a bunch of reasons. I wanted to find my voice on a stage. I wanted to put more Torres Strait Islander work on stage. I wanted to grow my practice, and one really strong reason was advice from one of my amazing mentors, Kate Champion. She said: ‘You never really know how you work until you do a solo show’. So here we are.
It may not be common knowledge – but there is a significant difference between a Torres Strait Islander born in the Torres Strait Islands and one who is born on the mainland, and this distinction is one of the themes I explore in My Urrwai.
There are a large number of Australians who do not know the difference between Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people – so I make a point to represent the difference. I want to bring visibility to Torres Strait Islander people, but know ultimately I can only claim to represent myself.
It has been a journey trying to figure out what black theatre is. How do I tell this story? How do I put my story in a space that is usually occupied by white theatre? This is something that I am still exploring and probably will continue to do, with every work I create from now on. My Urrwai is the beginning of this path I am now curious to investigate.
Our culture can be expressed in all art forms. We are complex human beings, and I myself do not intend to be confined to one category.
Big Esso (Big thank you): My Pumle (family) especially Mum and Dad, my girls, Mel, Ama Rachael, Kate, Ania, Toby, Claire, Michael, Nik, Narelle, Liz, Danielle, Colm, Karilyn, Dalisa, Rachael, Pippa and Andrea.
My Urrwai is playing in Belvoir’s Downstairs theatre from 19 January – 4 February. For more information and to purchase tickets, head here.