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Message Sticks Festival 2013

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Media Release: 30th January 2013 

MEDIA PARTNERS: JCDecaux & SBS
Sydney Opera House presents
 

Message Sticks Festival 2013

 

Celebrating the very best of Indigenous arts

 

19 March – 24 March 

Sydney Opera House

 
 
Under the artistic direction of Rhoda Roberts, Message Sticks Festival returns to Sydney Opera House from 19th March – 24th March 2013, celebrating the arts and culture of the world’s first peoples, highlighting our own Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

 

Now in its 14th year, Message Sticks Festival is an annual international multi-faceted program showcasing performing arts, traditional knowledge and ritual ceremonies.  This year the Festival also honours 200 years since the passing of Woollarawarre Bennelong, who served as a vital mediator between Aboriginal Australians and our colonial forebears.

 

Message Sticks Festival 2013 highlights include:

 

WANTOK: SING SING - Following the Songlines from the highlands of West Papua across the Micronesian Islands to the Polynesian Islands in the east and into the rainforests and deserts of Australia, join this epic musical journey featuring 20 singers, drummers, musicians, dancers under the musical direction of David Bridie.

 

DANCESTRY - Dance from across the ages for all ages; street styles, island rhythms and the world’s oldest song cycles combine in a choreographic corroboree crossing time, place and space.

 

LATE NIGHTS AT BAR BADU - An intimate song circle under the stars where stories and sounds cast their magical spell. Featuring Microwave Jenny, Troy Bray, Hui-A and Street Warriors. 

 

THE YOLNGU EXPERIENCE - Become immersed in Yolngu culture, as Bennelong point dissolves into North East Arnhem Land - learn, observe and participate in new and surprising ways.

 

BILLINUDGEL WEAVERS: The Fabric of Existence - Experience hands-on the way weaving connects you to country, as these skilled artisans share how they’ve used these plants since the beginning of time.

 

I DON’T WANNA PLAY HOUSE - Tammy Anderson wrote and stars in this one-woman-show of beautifully-evoked characters and song, where darkness and trauma never extinguish the flames of inspiration, laughter and the love of life itself.

 

Sydney Opera House’s Head of Indigenous Programming, Rhoda Roberts said, “For thousands of years Bennelong Point, site of Sydney Opera House, has been an Aboriginal gathering point – a place of corroborees, storytelling and ceremony. So it’s fitting that here is where the stories continue as this year we mark 200 years since the passing of Woollarawarre Bennelong, one of the most misunderstood men in our combined indigenous and non indigenous Australian histories.
 
From first contact to contemporary culture, Message Sticks Festival covers a diverse program of amazing performances, exhibitions and events, many of them free – and all against the spectacular backdrop of Sydney Harbour.  Whether you are watching a modern-day corroboree on the Western Broadwalk at dusk or becoming immersed in Wantok: SING SING, an epic musical journey featuring 20 international singers, drummers, musicians and dancers under the direction of multi-ARIA winner David Bridie to listening to celebrity speakers addressing the gritty socio-political issues facing the nation, our aim is to engage you in conversation and raise our collective awareness. We look forward to sharing with you the stories that have helped shape this ancient land.”

 

Rhoda is a member of the Bundjalung nation, Widjabul clan of Northern NSW and South East QLD.

 

Sydney Opera House Chief Executive Louise Herron said, “Sydney Opera House has long celebrated Indigenous arts and culture and our Message Sticks Festival has grown to be an integral part of our national cultural calendar.

 

2013 is a significant year for both Indigenous Australia and Sydney Opera House. It is 200 years since the death of Woollarawarre Bennelong, a member of the Wangal clan who lived on our harbour side point and who gave our site its name, and it is 40 years since we opened our doors to the public and introduced people to a world of great artists and performances.

 

Message Sticks Festival is now in its 14th year and will again showcase the artists and knowledge keepers of Australia’s traditional custodians. Rhoda Roberts has curated a multi-arts program melding contemporary and traditional Indigenous expression through theatre, dance, song, art and talks.”
 
MEDIA CONTACT:

 

Alexandra Barlow / abarlow@sydneyoperahouse.com / 02 9250 7825 / 0412 085 032
 
Message Sticks is supported by the NSW Government through Arts NSW
 
List of Events
 
FREE
 
Opening Ceremony: Singing Up Country
Western Broadwalk
22 March, Free event
The perfect beginning to your festival experience, this mesmerizing modern corroboree of music, dance and song, also honours 200 years since the passing of Woollarawarre Bennelong.

 

Dancestry
Western Broadwalk
22 - 24 March, Free event
Dance from across the ages for all ages; street styles, island rhythms and the world's oldest song cycles combine in a choreographic corroboree crossing time, place and space.
 
Late Nights at Bar Badu
Western Broadwalk
22 - 24 March, Free event
A unique opportunity to relax, kick back and get up close to the artists and music celebrated in the festival with residents Microwave Jenny, Troy Brady, Hui-A, Street Warriors and guests; creating an intimate song circle under the stars to cast their spell.
 
Woollarawarre Bennelong of the Wangal
Western Foyer
From 19 March, Free event
From Bennelong's Hut 1789 to Sydney Opera House 2013, this free exhibition weaves historical documentation, conversations and paintings together to tell of Bennelong's brutal kidnapping by the British, his travels to London and back home again, creating an epic legacy of resilience and survival.
 
Festival Free Films: Saturday
Playhouse
23 March, Free event
Three important, groundbreaking and utterly engaging documentaries tell three stories of indigenous struggle, resilience and survival: Croker Island Exodus, Coniston and Black Man's Houses. Each free screening is followed by a Q&A with guest speakers
 
Festival Free Films: Sunday
Playhouse
24 March, Free event
We kick-off Sunday with a duet of doco screenings where you'll explore the 'defining moments' of two of our best-loved artists, Emma Donovan and Kerrianne Cox. The afternoon session will follow with three films from three countries through the eyes of their first peoples; Apekathe from Australia, Mauri from New Zealand and Canada's Unnatural and Accidental. Each free screening is followed by a Q&A with guest speakers
 
EXPERIENCES
 
Billinudgel Weavers: the fabric of existence
Western Broadwalk Marquee
22 - 24 March, Workshop $30*
Experience hands-on the way weaving connects you to country by the use of local flora such as basket grass, as skilled traditional artisans share how these plants have been used since the beginning of time.
 
Yolngu Weavers: the process of creation
Western Broadwalk Marquee 
23 - 24 March, Workshop $30*
Take part in the age-old processes used in creating a mat, basket or dili bag that may take months to complete: from bush collection to stripping and dying, the craft and techniques are enveloped in Yolngu creation stories
 
The Yolngu Experience
Western Broadwalk Marquee 
23 - 24 March, Workshop $30*
Become immersed in another's culture, as Bennelong point dissolves into North East Arnhem Land in this uniquely intimate interaction with Yolngu culture and people - where you learn, observe and participate in new and surprising ways.
 
Nathi: Crying Country
The Royal Botanic Gardens 
23 - 24 March, Tickets $50* inc. breakfast at Bar Badu 
Here is a unique opportunity for non-Aboriginal women to be invited to experience the Nathi ceremony; a sacred, evocative and deeply moving Yolngu women's celebration of the dawning of the new day that brings new life to every living thing
 
The Bennelong Walk
Meeting point: Lower Concourse
23 - 24 March
Discover the spirit of place, a gathering ground for thousands of years. Join us as we walk around ‘tobowgulle’ on the land of the Gadigal now home to one of the most famous buildings in the world. Learn its past and how it came to be known as ‘Bennelong Point’.

 

MUSIC
 
Wantok: SING SING
Drama Theatre
22 - 24 March, Tickets $65*
Following Songlines from the highlands of West Papua across the Micronesian Islands to the Polynesian Islands in the east and into the rainforests and deserts of Australia, you'll join an epic musical journey featuring 20 international singers, drummers, musicians and dancers under the direction of multi-ARIA winner David Bridie.
 
Microwave Jenny, Troy Brady, Hui-A, Street Warriors at Late Nights at Bar Badu
Western Broadwalk
22 - 24 March, Free event
A unique opportunity to relax, kick back and get up close to the artists and music celebrated in the festival with residents Microwave Jenny, Troy Brady, Hui-A, Street Warriors and guests; creating an intimate song circle under the stars to cast their spell.

 

THEATRE
 
I Don't Wanna Play House
Studio
21 - 24 March, Tickets $25*
"In the first 15 years of my life I lived in 16 houses, 3 caravans and went to 12 schools" says Tammy Anderson, in this one-woman-show of beautifully-evoked characters and song, where darkness and trauma never extinguish the flames of inspiration, laughter and the love of life itself.
 
Wulamanayuwi and the Seven Pamanui
Studio
20 - 21 March, Tickets $30*
In the light-hearted style of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, this new play mixes the enchanting tradition of European fairytales with Dreamtime characters and the stories, language and rhyme of the Tiwi Islands for kids 6+. 
 
CONVERSATIONS
 
Stan Grant: the Bennelong Memorial Address
Playhouse
23 March, Tickets $30*
Logie award-winning international broadcaster Stan Grant reflects on his work in war torn areas and refugee camps; disturbed by the fact that much of Aboriginal Australia live in similar conditions, he argues for more rigorous investigative approaches to Aboriginal news reporting while challenging the prevailing standards in indigenous media.
 
Ngambala Wiji Li-Wunungu: together we are strong
Studio
24 March, Tickets $25*
Through story and song, award-winning artist Shellie Morris tells of her powerful journey of kinship through the preservation of language, cultural heritage and age-old music, carving out new artistic histories with the legendary Borroloola Songwomen
 
Haumanu: breath of the birds
Studio
24 March, Tickets $25*
Ancient tales retold by modern voices, traditional instruments kept alive by modern hands, here are fresh new ways of experiencing a rich musical culture from Aotearoa in the gorgeous surrounds of the Studio as part of a concert experience like no other.
 
Identity: lancing the boil
Studio
23 March, Tickets $20*
Visual artist Fiona Foley goes head-to-head with curator, art historian and provocateur Djon Mundine in a no-holds-barred conversation about trad Abs, rad Abs, self proclaimed identity, pigeon-holing, fashion and the "Ooga Booga" art of old.

 

Bennelong at the Opera
Playhouse
24 March, Tickets $20*
Preconceptions are shattered, new perspectives are explored and myths are well and truly busted, as Historian's Keith Vincent Smith and John Maynard discuss one of the most misunderstood men in our combined histories - Woollarawarre Bennelong
 

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Sydney Opera House

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