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A warm and enveloping theatre production
Winyanboga Yurringa in Yorta Yorta language translates as Women of the Sun. Winyanboga Yurringa was inspired by Hyllus Maris and Sonia Borg's fiercely political and poetically groundbreaking story that burst onto the small screen in 1981 on SBS and later on ABC television.
The theatre production is about six Aboriginal women who have come together at a campsite in Yorta Yorta Country, in the wake of thousands of years of history; six women meet to do what women have done thousands of years: support, protect, and help each other grow. They are gathered by the family matriarch Neecy (Roxanne McDonald) who hopes to reconnect them all with the land.
Wanda (Angeline Penrith), single mother to five; her sister Margie (Dalara Williams), cagey about her relationships; Carol (Tasma Walton), the only Aboriginal woman in senior management at a museum; and newcomer Jadah (Tuuli Narkle), a photographer there to document their gathering. There is also teenager Chantelle (Dubs Yunupingu), who the others perceive as at risk, having had brushes with the law and currently embroiled in an abusive relationship.
The performance took us on a journey into these six women's lives with both touching moments and comical ones. With drama, warmness, raw emotion as well as being filled with humour, the cast executed this production with brilliance and perfection. They took the audience into the rhythms of their conversation and salty banter.
Neecy, at the centre of it all, is trying to keep them together for an act of reclamation that looks increasingly precarious as simmering tensions boil over. Things come to a head when Chantelle leaves the camp at night to meet up with her boyfriend. Her whereabouts is a mystery to everyone else, it is a scenario that holds graver resonance for these Aboriginal women who immediately discount the possibility of police assistance.
The set was transformed with a river bank and sloping dunes that seemed to embrace the six women in gentle inclines and curves. Combined with the spectacular lighting effects, which bathed the space with gentle pinks and golds and sound effects, the land became a character in its own right: a living, breathing thing- all too appropriate for a story about returning to Country.
This tale of connection, resilience and understanding through a group of Indigenous women on a bush camping trip began and ended in ritual, it unfolded the stories of six contemporary Indigenous women connected by kin but vastly different in backgrounds and ages.
Each character attempts to deal with the diverse issues from domestic violence, their sexuality, cultural theft and troubled post-colonial inheritance. How do you find your way? How do you connect to country, to cultural objects, to each other?
Tickets can be purchased online or at the Box Office.
The play is held at Belvoir St Theatre, with the acknowledgement of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation who are the traditional custodians of the land on which Belvoir St Theatre is built- and always was and always will be.
Belvoir St Theatre also pays respect to the Elders past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.