Video transcript
Aboriginal Drama Program 2016 – Showcase performance

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- I'd like to welcome everyone to the performance of The Arts Unit 2016 Drama Program. Before we begin, can I please invite Donna Ingram to the stage for the welcome to country.


- Thank you. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, students, teachers, girls, and boys from Plunkett Street and Fort Street public schools. It's my great pleasure to be here to offer you welcome to country for today's final performance as part of the Department of Education [? arts unit ?] Aboriginal Drama Programme. It gives me pride to represent my community in this important cultural protocol. It shows respect for and recognition to the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australian culture and history.

We are gathered on the traditional land of the Cadigal, who were 1 of 29 clans of the Eora nation, which is bordered by the Hawkesbury, the Georges, and the Nepean Rivers. I'm an Aboriginal woman who proudly identifies with the Wiradjuri nation through my family connections from a town called Cowra in Central West New South Wales. I was born on Cadigal land and I've had the privilege to live, work, and raise my four children on this land for most of my life. My family has recently grown to include my new granddaughter, Alia, who is 4 months and 2 days old today.

I acknowledge the Cadigal, their spirits, and ancestors, who will always remain with the land-- mother earth-- and thank them for their ongoing custodianship and for allowing us to gather here today for this exciting performance. I'd also like to acknowledge the many clans who are joining us today through live streaming. I'm also very proud to be part of the oldest living culture in the world-- the Aboriginal culture of Australia, with their unique and distinct heritage, cultures, and identities. I pay my respects to our elders, both past and present. We must never forget the sacrifices made by our leaders to create a better future for Aboriginal people.

I extend my respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all clans and nations who are present this afternoon. I also recognise our non-Aboriginal sisters and brothers who walk beside us to provide quality education and training for our mob. I now offer you a warm and sincere welcome to the land of the Cadigal of the Eora nation, wish you a safe stay on the land and safe travel from the land.

On behalf of my community and the Cadigal, I wish the students a great performance today. I know that you will have enjoyed the workshops with the fantastic people from the Moogahlin Performing Arts team and hope that it has encouraged you to think about doing more drama programmes in the future. Travel home safely to your families with new-found skills and confidence to pursue your dreams, whatever that may be.

In closing, we remember that this is, was, and always will be Aboriginal land. Thank you. Have a great afternoon.


- Thank you very much, Donna. I would like to thank you all for being here today. I would especially like to welcome the kindergarten and year one students from Plunkett Street Public School and Fort Street Public School, who are our audience today. I'd also like to thank our invited guests from the New South Wales Department of Education, the Carriage Works, Arts Unit, and the arts coordinators who have taken their time to be here today. And also to [? uncle wes. ?] Thank you for sharing your stories and passing them on to the next generation. We hope we have honoured you with today's performance.

My name is Gemma Sumerhayes, and I'm a proud Wiradjuri woman. You may have seen me perform in school spectacular, but today, I am your host. Before we begin, I'd like to tell you a little bit about the students who are performing today. There are 27 Aboriginal students, ranging from years 7 to 11 from schools in both Sydney and [inaudible] New South Wales. They have come together here at the ATYP over four days to learn traditional art forms and to work together to reinterpret the dreaming stories that were told to them by [? uncle wes ?] on the first day of the Programme. Along the way, the students have been guided by the tutors at the-- wait. No-- Moogahlin Performing Arts, and what we are about to see is a result of their collaboration. Please enjoy their performance.


[claves sounding rhythmically]

- Hello, everyone. My name is CJ [inaudible]. First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the Cadigal people, who are the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand. And I will also pay our respects to the elders, past and present. Where I'm from-- on my grandfather's side, I'm from the [inaudible] from North Queensland, and on my grandma's side, [inaudible].

- Hi, my name's Clint. I'm from [inaudible] in down South Coast, and I originate from the [inaudible].

- Hi, everyone. My name's Andrew and I don't know where I'm from. I don't know what tribe I'm from. Don't know.

CJ: Well haven't we got a story to tell you.

[claves sounding rhythmically]

[non-english speech]

[non-english chanting]


- I was actually just about right here, yeah.

- Oh, for you. This is the story of how Australia was created. In the beginning--

- Beginning. There was a great serpent.

- The rainbow serpent!

- Rainbow serpent, and it came from the North.

- From the North, and it travelled its way through Australia, leaving behind--

- Rivers.

- Mountains.

- Gullies.

- Valleys.

- Oceans.

- More oceans!

- And more oceans!

- And after years and years of travelling through Australia, it was finally going to lay to rest in the Macintyre River, but--

- But--

- Before it did--

- Before it did, the almighty-- the rainbow serpent--

- The almighty serpent.

- Rainbow serpent opened its jaws.

- Its almighty jaws.

- And before [inaudible] spiritual people came out of its mouth.

- And spiritual people go into that corner of Australia.

- That corner.

- That corner.

- And that corner.

- Writing in languages.

- People.

- Customs.

- Food.

- Cultures.

- Traditions.

- Laws.

- And much more.

- And that is how--

- There came to be--

- People in Australia.


- (CHOIR SINGING) I just made this world. I [inaudible] and I hear. And rest my head by this river bed.

[loud rhythmic foot stomping]


- (SPOKEN TOGETHER) Let's destroy things.

[humming and rhythmic foot stomping]

- We've destroyed everything. What do we do now?

- Run!

[claves sounding rhythmically]

[humming and clave sounds]

- (SINGING) We going to have a voice.


(SINGING) Like a lyre bird.


(SINGING) We going to have a song.


(SINGING) That deserves to be heard.


[inaudible singing]


(SINGING) The bird will have big wings.


(SINGING) We going to have a voice.


(SINGING) That we all can sing.

- But how?

- But how?

- But how?

- But how.

- I am Baiame, the creator. Once I discovered everything I created was destroyed, I planted frail plants. I breathed life into this plant I create a bird. I give this bird two gifts-- the gift of dance and the gift of imitation.


[clearing throats]

[hissing and whooshing sounds]

[claves sounding rhythmically]

- (SINGING) We going to have a voice. We going to have a voice. Like a lyre bird. Like a lyre bird. We going to have a song. We going to have a song. That deserves to be heard. That deserves to be heard.

[hissing and whooshing sounds]


GIRL 1: I'm starting first.

GIRL 2: I'm starting first.

GIRL 1: No, I am.

GIRL 2: No, I am.

GIRL 1: No, I am.

GIRL 2: OK. So this is the story of how the echidna, was it? Yeah, an echidna and curlew bird came to be. You can go now.

- OK. Once, there was a young, beautiful girl destined to marry an old man.

- My sweet. Wow.

GIRL 1: One day, an incredible dancer called Young Sam came to the camp to ask for permission to dance at the camp fires.

GIRL 2: Day one, day two, day 3, day 4, and day 5. He went to sleep that night in his tent with [? luanna ?] watching him. She asked him a question that's been on here mind all day.

- Can I come with you?

- No, because it's going to create war between our tribes.

GIRL 2: The next morning, she tried to find him, but could not find him because he is gone. So she followed his tracks in the sand. She finally found him sleeping by a camp fire.

- Whoa. What are you doing here?

- I followed you.

- I told you you can't come. It's going to create a war between our tribes. You have to leave now.

- I'll leave in the morning.

- No, you have to go now.



- The hunter and the old maid found [? luanna ?] and the youngster and threw spears at them.

- As [? luanna ?] protected the youngster, she got spears in her back and turned into an echidna. Of the spears in his heart, he became a crying curlew bird.

[bird noises]

This is the story of how the curlew bird and the echidna came to be.


[music playing]

- (SINGING) There's a light in the darkness, though the night is black as mesquite. There's a light burning bright, showing me the way 'cause I know we're I've been. There's a cry in the distance. There's a voice that comes from deep within. There's a cry asking why. I pray the answers are [inaudible] 'cause I know where I've been. There's a road we've been travelling. Lost so many on the way. The riches will be plenty. Worth the price, worth the price we had to pay. There's a dream in the future. There's a struggle that we have here to meet. There is pride in our hearts 'cause I know where I'm going. Yes, I do, 'cause I know where I've been.

(CHORUS SINGING) There's a road--

- (SINGING) There's a road.

- (CHORUS SINGING) We must travel.

- (SINGING) We must travel.

- (CHORUS SINGING) There's a promise.

- (SINGING) There's a promise.

- (CHORUS SINGING) That we must make.

- (SINGING) That we must make.

- (CHORUS SINGING) The riches.

- (SINGING) Oh, the riches.

- (CHORUS SINGING) Will be plenty.

- (SINGING) Riches will be plenty.

- (CHORUS SINGING) Worth the risk.

- (SINGING) Worth the risk.

- (CHORUS SINGING) And the chances.

- (SINGING) And the chances we take. There's a dream, oh, in the future. There's a struggle--

- (CHORUS SINGING) Struggle.

- (SINGING) That we have here to meet. There is pride--


- (SINGING) In our hearts.

- (CHORUS SINGING) In our hearts.

- (SINGING) To lift us up.

- (CHORUS SINGING) Lift us up.

- (SINGING) 'til tomorrow. Sit still with me. I've seen.

- (CHORUS SINGING) There's a promise.

- (SINGING) And lord knows where I've been. I can [inaudible] my [inaudible] 'cause I know where I've been.


- (SPOKEN) And now, I'd like to welcome Cathy [inaudible] for a few words.

- Oh, I [inaudible] Well, could we just have a big round of applause for our wonderful 2016 students.


And also, for our fabulous host, Gemma Sumerhayes. Thank you so much, Gemma.


Well, that brings us to the end of our Programme. We've just going a few thank yous to do and to pass on to some people. Firstly, Uncle Wes, would you like to come up? Uncle Wes-- can we give Uncle Wes a round of applause?


Uncle Wes was our elder who came on the first day of the Programme and basically just immersed us in the stories of creation and dream time stories. And Uncle was just going to say a few words now about the importance of storytelling.

- Good afternoon, everybody.

GIRL 3: Good afternoon.

- I think everybody tells stories because my father was a storyteller and my grandfather and his father and his father. So my dreaming-- my grandfather's stories. Now, I'm not-- I don't come from this part of the country I'm a [inaudible] man. I come from southern Queensland. I lived the story-- me and my father, and my father with my grandfather. When I was small, which was a long time ago, I-- we had a law passed that said Aboriginal children were not allowed to tell stories. I'm glad my grandfather was larger than people. He didn't do what he was told. So I learned the stories from him.

I've been telling the stories in the school now for 45 years, 50 years. We weren't allowed into the schools, and the fight we had to get into the schools, you wouldn't believe. But I'm here now and this is where I'm going to stay. I think everybody should have stories. Stories give us imagination. Dream time stories-- anything in Aboriginal culture has a story. Every tree, every stone, every hill, every river, every animal-- all the animals-- birds.

And I've been trying to teach this here to my children, but they're not interested. Let's hope that they carry on when I'm gone and I'd like to thank you all for coming and I'm impressed with your performance here. Whenever you happen to have children, go after it. Sometimes in life, we get one chance. If this is your chance, you grab it and get it. Go out.

I'm 93 years old and it's been a long, long battle. But anyway, I'm Uncle Wes now. Anybody who wants to-- I'm in the phone book. Anybody wants to get in touch with me-- I'm there. I believe that elders are big for the community. Not to [inaudible] themselves, although I like it. I like the children when they sing [inaudible] good day, Uncle Wes. How is it going? This is the greatest thing and this is what I'm here about because if all of you know Aboriginal culture, children will learn to chase it for their fantasy. And that's what they had today. And that's what you children learned here today, too. Thank you very much.


CATHY GILHOLME: Thank you, Uncle Wes. And we've just got a very small gift to give you as a token of our appreciation for you being here. Thank you. Thank you very much. I'd just like to sort of ask the students now to stand up. I've got some certificates for you, but if you could stand up when I say the name of your school so we can say the schools who are represented here today. So Blacktown Girls. Where are the Blacktown Girls? Give them a round of applause.


Well done, ladies. Thank you. Have we got [inaudible] High School? The wonderful Clint from [inaudible]. East Hills Girls Technology High.


Georges River College, Peakhurst campus.


And [inaudible] High School.


And all the way down from Macintyre High School.


They've just been amazing. 10 hour trip down, 10 hour trip home, and they've done it twice. So thank you so much. Manilla Central School.


Again, travelled a great distance to be here. Thank you. The [inaudible] High School.


Thomas Reddall High School.


And last, but not least, Sir Joseph Banks High School.


Congratulations to all of you. Thank you very much for participating. A couple of thank yous before we do go. To the staff here at ATYP, Chrissy, Adele, and Fraser, just your generosity and allowing us to use this space over the last couple of weeks has just been incredible. And I think it's really lifted our pride in our work and the sense of occasion here today. So thank you so much for your partnership and your support. It's very much appreciated. We've just got a very small box of chocolates for you to share in the office for you, as well. Give ATYP a round of applause. Thank you.

We've had professional learning for the teachers here from the AFCG, as well. They're not here today, but we had Desmond Barton and Dr. Shayne Williams, who has been giving the teachers professional learning about Aboriginal culture and engaging Aboriginal students and teaching Aboriginal outcomes in schools. And they've been fabulous. There's been two very special people here that have helped keep this Programme running. Firstly, Kathy Kokori. Is Kathy in the background somewhere? Is Kathy here? Kathy, we'd like to just-- have a very small token of appreciation for you, Kathy, and also to Dave Garlick. Thank you so much for the Sir Joseph Banks Prep [inaudible] Thanks to Mr. Joseph Banks. Thank you.

We had some wonderful tutors from Moogahlin Performing Arts that taught us in art. That was Debra in carving, Uncle Greg Sims, and dance tutor Lily Shearer. But lastly, a huge thank you to the wonderful Lisa-Mare Syron from Moogahlin. Would you like to come up, Lisa-Mare? Just worked so hard with the students and brought out the best-- let's give Lisa-Mare a big round of applause.


Nice job. And the staff at the arts school here-- Sue Dawson for stage managing. Peter McVie, David Todd, and to all the arts students who are here today watching this Programme in its final stages, your support is just so wonderfully appreciated. Thank you for taking the time out and for the people from the Department of Education. Thank you for taking the time out to be here and share this amazing experience. Thank you very much.


Thank you for being here from Plunkett Street and Fort Street. Thank you very, very much.


[music - mark ronson, 'uptown funk']

(SINGING) This hit, that ice cold, Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold. This one for them hood girls, them good girls, straight masterpieces. Stylin', wilin', living it up in the city. Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent, got to kiss myself, I'm so pretty. I'm too hot.

End of transcript