On the Couch with Edgell Junior

Edgell-Junior-Edgell-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Edgell Junior?
I am a proud Ni-Vanuatu man from Pentecost Island, located in the North of Vanuatu. I come from a family of ten, I have six sisters, three bothers and 26 nieces and nephews. I have lived in Adelaide, South Australia with my partner since the beginning of 2020.

Before coming to Australia, from 2011 – 2019, I was a member of Vanuatu’s Wan Smolbag Theatre’s core acting ensemble working year-round for the company producing, performing, and touring plays, films, workshops, and educational resources across the islands to the people of Vanuatu.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I am loving what I am doing now, as a member of Slingsby’s Flying Squad, and while my contract comes to an end this year, I hope it will not be the last time I perform for an audience. I am intrigued to see where this road leads and what new opportunities may lay ahead.

At Wan Smolbag, much of my work was shared between theatre an also film, both in front of the camera and behind, as part of the crew. It would be brilliant to have the experience of working on a film set in Australia.

Who inspires you and why?
Since I have been on this earth, I have been inspired by my parents. Sadly, they are not alive anymore, but their teachings and what they gave me will always remain with me.

My Tata (father in my language) was one of those people that you couldn’t miss, he had a big presence. If he was present, there was always laughter and he brought joy and happiness to those around him. He was loving and caring but also a straight talker. He was a voice for those who didn’t have a voice. He stood up for his family, for his community and always stood up for what was right, even if it meant standing alone.

My Mua (mother in my language) was abundantly loving and caring. She would always share, no matter how little we had. We had a huge family and life was not always easy.

I have a memory I will never forget – Mua had two small saucepans that she used to cook for us. Every day, she managed to feed all 10 of us, until we were full, and somehow there were still leftovers….

Those two small saucepans are still at my big sister’s house. We have since tried to cook for the whole family, but we never can make the food stretch to fill up more than 3 or 4 of us.

Tata was the main breadwinner for our family, but his work meant he often travelled and was rarely home. Mua had incredible strength and patience to keep our family of 10 together, often single handedly.

Mua’s strength I have never since seen in another person. Another quality I admire in my Mua is that she knew all of Tata’s weaknesses but would never use them against him. She would always stand by him, no matter what.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would learn more. I would like to learn more about other cultures and better understand their customs, religions, language, ways of living and doing things, to better understand how the word works, outside of my comfort zone.

If I understood better, then I could lend a hand when help was needed. I believe that if we understood and accepted each other’s differences more, the world would be a better place.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday destination is Vanuatu. It is my homeland, and it is good to go back and re-connect and re-charge. One of my favourite things is to sit beside the crystal-clear ocean and think. There is no noise of traffic, it is peaceful and quiet.

I can be alone and quite in my thoughts, only listening to the distant sounds of birds, dogs, chickens, voices… In the afternoon, the fires light and as the smoke rises and the family prepares to cook for the evening, I am comforted by the voices and laughter of my nieces and nephews.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If friends came to visit us in Adelaide, I would treat them to:

  • A delicious, shared feast at home with my Adelaide family.
  • A drive to Myponga reservoir.
  • A swim at Port Willunga beach.
  • A wander through, shopping and a meal at the Adelaide Central Market – I love the food court!
  • A meal at my bro’s restaurant Jimmies in Crafer’s (Adelaide Hills) for the best pizza in Adelaide.

If friends came to visit us in Vanuatu, I would treat them to:

  • A visit to the Market in Port Vila to eat a hot ‘Tuluk’ (a super yummy, hand made traditional meat and onion filled manioc parcel wrapped in coconut leaves and baked in hot stones) and to drink a fresh, sweet green coconut.
  • A trip around Efate Island with stops at the many village road markets for fruits and local food.
  • A swim at Eton Beach.
  • And for the brave, wan sel kava (a shell of kava) before the sun goes down

What are you currently reading?
Apart from reading scripts, I’m not much of a reader. I watch loads of documentaries and TikTok videos. Right now, I’m watching a series of docos about the current development in Dubai and the globe. I love David Attenborough documentaries, and I often watch his doco The Planet to help me fall asleep.

What are you currently listening to?
I always listen to music. I’m happy listening to any kind of music, but my favorite is Reggae. On high rotation right now is Metoxide, Kras Rut Star, Brada Cloud & Stan & the Earthforce – all awesome Vanuatu artists, look them up!

Happiness is?
Happiness starts from within. I am most happy when I see my loved ones and people around me being happy.

What does the future hold for you?
The future is a mystery, so I am happy to let the mystery unfold as it will. I am always ready to adapt and respond to whatever is presented to me.

Edgell Junior can be seen in Slingsby’s The River That Ran Uphill – which will be presented in the Space Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, as part of the 2023 Adelaide Festival: 1 – 6 March. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Edgell Junior (supplied)