A new work from Marrugeku, Jurrungu Ngan-ga – meaning Straight Talk in Yawuru – reflects on the disproportion of Indigenous Australians in custody and first-hand descriptions of life inside Australia’s immigration detention centres.
The multimedia theatre production is inspired by perspectives on incarceration shared by Yawuru leader and Senator for Western Australia Patrick Dodson, one of six commissioners and the only non-lawyer who sat on the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
It draws on themes from the acclaimed autobiographical novel No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison (2018) by Kurdish-Iranian journalist and filmmaker Behrouz Boochani. The novel, translated by Iranian Australian philosopher and activist Omid Tofighian from thousands of WhatsApp messages written by Boochani on a smuggled phone, is an account of Boochani’s perilous journey to Christmas Island and his subsequent incarceration in an Australian government immigration detention facility on Manus Island.
Set within a large-scale installation designed by leading West Australian visual artist Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Jurrungu Ngan-ga was conceived by choreographer and dancer Dalisa Pigram and director and dramaturg Rachael Swain with Patrick Dodson, and created with performers Czack (Ses) Bero, Emmanuel James Brown, Chandler Connell, Luke Currie-Richardson, Issa el Assaad, Zachary Lopez, Bhenji Ra, Feras Shaheen and Miranda Wheen; dramaturgy Hildegard de Vuyst and cultural dramaturgy Behrouz Boochani, Patrick Dodson, Omid Tofighian, with music by Sam Serruys, Paul Charlier and Rhyan Clapham aka DOBBY; sound design by Sam Serruys and Paul Charlier, costumes by Andrew Treloar and lighting design by Damien Cooper.
Marrugeku’s cultural team and cast have drawn on their intersecting yet distinct experiences (as Indigenous, displaced, exiled, transgender and/or settler peoples), to respond to key themes in Boochani’s novel with choreography, sound and visual art.