Stories, knowledge and culture are being showcased at the Melbourne Fringe Festival as First Nations artists create works that radiate strength and connection to a culture and a history that they believe is slowly shifting to the forefront of our national identity.
Melbourne Fringe has partnered with Koorie Heritage Trust to celebrate the third year of Deadly Fringe – a program aimed at unearthing and developing conceptual artwork from First Nations artists.
Neon Corrboree, an interactive, live installation is one of the First Nations works featuring at the festival.
Presented by Herding Cats Management and Events, Neon Corroboree is written directed and produced by talented Wiradjuri and Gundit man, Amos Roach – son of prolific Indigenous singer-songwriter, Archie Roach.
Mr Roach said although a huge process of creation, it’s a contemporary spin on what his people have been doing for years.
“It was a big process bringing it together, sharing our culture and our traditional knowledge, sharing stories and passing them on – it’s already something we do,” Mr Roach said.
“Communication is key – to sit down and tell it. We thought it would be a great way to do that through music, song and dance and to get people up dancing along with us.”
Throughout the creation process, Mr Roach has had to adapt his contemporary storytelling to respect cultural protocol.
“Some things that are a bit touchy, I’ve spoken with other performers who have come in and we all follow cultural protocol – because it is contemporary and modernised, there is that allowance for things done differently through our customs and beliefs,” Mr Roach said.
Herding Cats Management and Events manager, Yvette Scholtmeyer said this is a monumental piece for local country and community.
“We hope to see this continue to become a vehicle for employment for young dancers or people wanting to learn stagecraft,” Ms Scholtmeyer said.
“The performance will happen on the 21st and 28th of September, and it’s so important as they will be dancing on significant country for the Boon Wurrung people – it’s country that hasn’t been danced on for over 200 years.”
Ms Scholtmeyer said that performances and stories such as Neon Corroboree are pushing to begin a process of change within the nation.
“Our primary purpose is to build and reconnect people to each other; First Nations community and broader community,” Ms Scholtmeyer said.
“Racism is still so bad, even here in Victoria. I stood on the corner with an Elder, one whom is working within Treaty negotiations, and she couldn’t get a taxi. Amos moved away as he thought it was because he was there, still no taxi. It is appalling and it is ingrained.”
“We are profoundly privileged to live in the country with the oldest living practiced culture in the world. I want people to walk away from seeing this feeling like they’ve found something to hold onto, something to invest in.”
Mr Roach shares these views and has injected this attitude into his work.
“We are all one family … We must start connecting, sitting down with people who have come from the oldest living culture in the world – and we have the opportunity here to sing and dance up on country together,” Mr Roach said.
“We are creating new song lines. This is a way to start to reconnect, connect with our families, our people and our country. I think we can show the world a thing or two.”
Melbourne Fringe also welcomes First Nations artwork including:
- Edwards Gammin Café by Tahnee Edwards and Uncle Talgium Edwards
- Current by Pierra Van Sparkes.
- Kalkadoon by Arkie Barton
- Crackpipe Dreaming by Jack Sheppard.
The Melbourne Fringe Festival began on the September 12 and will continue until September 29.
For more information about Melbourne Fringe Festival and the First Nations artists exhibiting, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au.