First Peoples Storytellers take centre stage in 2021 Yellamundie Festival Program

SF21-Yellamundie-Festival-Shana-O'Brien-photo-by-Rachel-MainFrom 22 – 24 January 2021, Moogahlin Performing Arts together with Sydney Festival and Carriageworks will present six ground-breaking works from eight First Peoples storytellers as part of the 5th biennial Yellamundie Festival.

Yellamundie is a Darug word meaning “storyteller” – Sydneysiders can be the first to see brand-new developmental works and discover new First Peoples talent, from cutting-edge voices around the country.

“It is an honour to serve as the new Artistic Director of Yellamundie Festival. In 2021, the Festival celebrates ancient mediums of First Peoples storytelling, expanding to feature music and dance-based programming for the first time in its history,” said Yellamundie Festival Director, Lily Shearer.

“Yellamundie Festival is the only Festival of its kind in Australia – a launchpad for new work and pioneering First People’s creatives. Since we started in 2013, ten Yellamundie Festival works have gone to full production, promoting some incredible yelamundies (storytellers) from across Australia.”

“From poignant portrayals of cultural identity to celestial compositions and breathtaking choreography, we look forward to celebrating the incredible new and distinct First Peoples voices at the 2021 Yellamundie Festival,” said Shearer.

Highlights of 2021 Yellamundie Festival includes:

The Lookout by Dalara Williams (Playwriting)
Jack is just trying to deal with crap life throws his way. He lost his job, his scholarship for uni, and now his girlfriend… well, ex-girlfriend. To get away from it all, Jack decides to head to his favorite spot. The Lookout, a place where he can get away from life’s problem, if only for a second. Until one night he meets a young woman there. Who is she? All Jack wants is to be alone, but the woman has other plans.

Waterholes by Shana O’Brien (Movement / Choreography)
Waterholes is a new dance piece that explores the emotion of connecting to those that came before us and the potential that water presents for healing and new life. O’Brien states “I have found that the most important information has come via secret messages from the ancestors. A floating feather, a feeling in the gut, whispers floating on the wind… they have led me to some water holes… They became a kind of sanctuary when the world felt so out of control and unpredictable this year. I knew I could return to this quiet place.”

The First Shot by Troy Russell 
The First Shot is a story of anger and sorrow, told through conceptual composition with a folk twist, about a young couple in flight after a tragic event. It is a story that tells of the love and happiness that is found in each other’s arms and hearts, but it is also of the tragedies and injustices that have befallen the people whose lives have been lost in colonial Australia.

Gumbirrangarroo Dalanngarroo (Longest Time Right Now) by Brad Steadman, Brad Hardy, and Mark Ross
Gumbirrangarroo Dalanngarroo (Longest Time Right Now) is a multi-disciplinary work combining traditional language, music, and animation to tell stories of from the land and the river which provides life to all. Brad Steadman will write and narrate the stories, and Bradley Hardy composing the soundtrack to be co-produced with Mark Ross. The final outcome for this work will be a video presentation that can educate people young and old about our culture.

Meet the Artists
As in previous years, the Yellamundie Festival will feature the popular public forum, Meet the Artists. Hosted by festival artistic director, Lily Shearer, Meet the Artists introduces the 2021 Artists, Aidan Rowlingson, Dalara Williams, Shana O’Brien, Sermsah Bin Saad, Troy Russell, Brad Steadman, Brad Hardy and Mark Ross, to the public and provides the opportunity for them to discuss and reflect on their work and unique process.

The 2021 Yellamundie Festival runs 22 – 24 January. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Shana O’Brien – photo by Rachel Main

Note: Due to interstate border restrictions, the works Seventh Season Dreaming by Sermsah Bin Saad & Capricorn by Aidan Rowlingson will be developed in the artists home states and shown in February & March.