NORPA’s contemporary Indigenous theatre work receives funding

NORPA Three BrothersDeputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant has announced that NORPA’s collaborative project Bundjalung Nghari – Three Brothers will receive a Regional Partnerships grant from Arts NSW.

Bundjalung Nghari–Three Brothers is a partnership between NORPA, Bundjalung Elders Council, Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council, Northern Rivers Conservatorium, Playwriting Australia and Interrelate Family Centre, to create, produce and present an innovative, contemporary theatre work, Three Brothers – that will premiere at NORPA in Lismore in 2017.

In Bundjalung language ‘Nghari’ means ‘play’. NORPA’s ‘Bundjalung Nghari’ initiative generates projects to celebrate and share local indigenous culture. These projects are overseen by NORPA’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee and carried out in collaboration with local groups and organisations. Three Brothers is the first stage of this new initiative.

Three Brothers is a universal story of family legacy and cultural identity. Through a dynamic mix of traditional and contemporary language, dance, song, visuals and movement, renowned Aboriginal theatre and dance practitioners are collaborating to develop the work. The poignancy of the story rests in the parallel of a fictional Aboriginal family to the ancestral ‘Three Brothers’ story of the Bundjalung people.

This, the first creation story sited on the convergence of the three rivers, provides a powerful foundation for the construction of the new work. Three Brothers glimpses into the lives of three contemporary characters and tackles notions around death, family, immortality, and the struggles of maintaining a father’s legacy. It is a story of healing old wounds, addressing truths and sharing deep secrets in a new century.

The creative team includes co-director/devisors Rhoda Roberts and Julian Louis (NORPA Artistic Director), David Page, Djon Mundine, Kirk Page and Tybian Wyles.

“At the heart of Bundjalung-Nghari – Three Brothers is the process of collaboration and community engagement. This not only feeds into Three Brothers creatively but also develops important connections across the broader community,” says NORPA Artistic Director Julian Louis “The Northern Rivers region has a strong Aboriginal community including nationally accomplished Bundjalung artists.”

“The aim is to come together to tell a Bundjalung story with an Aboriginal voice, to devise a contemporary theatre work that speaks across generations and cultures, fusing the traditional with the contemporary, across dance, song and language.”

Local Aboriginal Associate artists will drive the community engagement program, delivering workshops in song, dance and craft, mentored by the Creative and Production team, and supported by the project Partners.

“The Northern Rivers region of NSW has a high Aboriginal population, nearly twice the state’s average,” said Rhoda Roberts “The Bundjalung language is one of very few traditional languages of the East Coast that is still spoken. The Wi-abul / Widjabul people of the Bundjalung nation have held the stories of the Bundjalung people for thousands of years and there is a true desire, through Elders, youth, community leaders and artists to share these stories with the broader community.”

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Leslie Williams said the funding will help Aboriginal artists from NSW build on their skills and capabilities. “It is important that Aboriginal artists are able to raise awareness of their history and culture in innovative ways to connect local communities to local Aboriginal stories,” said Minister Williams.

Three Brothers is part of NORPA Generator, NORPA’s program for creating new work, and will premiere at NORPA at Lismore City Hall in 2017. An excerpt will be performed in February this year at APAM, the premiere Australian performing arts market where new works are showcased and pitched to international and national presenters. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Composer/performer David Page and NORPA Artistic Director Julian Louis are included in the creative team of NORPA Generator’s new collaborative work celebrating Bundjalung culture and community. (supplied)