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Tjaabi: Flood Country

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Presented by Big HArt with support from Wyndham City Arts & Culture

Join us for this one-off presentation of cultural exchange at the Wunggurrwil Dhurrung Centre. 

Tjaabi–Flood Country is a contemporary intercultural music and theatre performance led by Ngarluma man Patrick Churnside

Ten years in the making in the Pilbara, Tjaabi–Flood Country captures the urgencies of the 21st Century as the globe warms and the climate changes. Patrick captures the many cultural and ecological pressures facing Aboriginal people in places like the Pilbara in the face of ever-increasing pressures for new minerals, rare earth, and more ore. He does so through breathtaking music, profoundly personal narrative, and humour that cuts to the bone.

Tjaabi is a unique song form, short compositions using crisp poetic language, set to melodies from across the Pilbara. Each song captures stories, dreams, thoughts, moments, which can be ecological, profound, funny, sexy, or wistful. Tjaabi are culturally accessible and can be listened to by indigenous and non-indigenous audiences. Each tjaabi has an original singer and comes from a specific place in the Pilbara, handed down to subsequent singers and family members. The original tjaabi singers were men and women of great strength and power from many nations across the Pilbara. Patrick evokes these varied landscapes from the desert to the East, the grassy tablelands, to the flood country of Iremugadu/Roebourne on the western coast, where the desert meets the sea.

Importantly, this work is an intercultural sharing, a collaboration between many, reflecting a hopeful future of cultural exchange and dialogue, with Patrick’s story at the centre. This immersive theatre work, using music, spoken word, animation, and tjaabi, tells the story of growing up in the Pilbara, the lineage of cultural knowledge, the contemporary relevance of indigenous ecologies, working on country, the resource sector, and the power of Ngarluma language in capturing cultural knowledges and lived experience.

With a deep joy and sorrow, Tjaabi–Flood Country incants the contradictions brought by the tsunami of modernity – where the weakest of strengths and the strongest of weaknesses combine.

After some years creating digital work and documentary, this Big hART theatre work is much anticipated. Created in collaboration with award-winning writer and director Scott Rankin, (Namatjira, Ngapartji Ngapartji, Hipbone Sticking Out), and produced by Big hART’s renowned collaborative team, Tjaabi–Flood Country delivers much of the signature power of Big hART’s large scale works. Raw, gripping, intensely moving, yet funny and compassionate, Tjaabi–Flood Country creates a contemporary and sophisticated portrait of Pilbara life in this complex moment in time out of Patrick’s remarkable lived experience.

Tjaabi–Flood Country is scored and performed with composer and musician Aaron Hopper, whose emotive, nuanced, and intelligent work seeks to grow out of traditional Pilbara melody and motif. This creates a grounded space for Patrick’s own story to emerge. Aaron and his family lived and worked in the Pilbara for three years, immersing themselves in cultural exchange which has allowed this musical collaboration to grow.

Food will be served from 6pm, followed by a Welcome to Country at 6:30pm 

Please note that this will be an outdoor event.  Please dress for warmth. 


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