We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders, Ancestors and leaders of the Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands ILBIJERRI Theatre Company is based.
We extend this respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, recognising their resilience and ongoing connection to land, water and culture, despite ongoing colonial interruption and genocide.
Always was, always will be, sacred Indigenous land.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be advised that this website may contain images of deceased persons.
BIW A GITHALAY (The Crab and the Mangrove Tree) is a universal and interactive theatrical experience for children aged five and over.
BIW A GITHALAY tells a culturally significant story that is shared across the diaspora of Saibai communities in Cairns, Brisbane, Bamaga and Thursday Island. It is a children’s bedtime story told in two Torres Strait language translations of Kalaw Kawaw Ya and Torres Strait Creole, about the need for balance and harmony within the natural world. This story has been shared for generations but holds a powerful contemporary relevance with increasing climate change.
The work is a project for Community, driven and made by Community. How the project develops at every stage is decided by the Community with Cultural accountability from Elders. The project is guided by a strong community of Saibai Island mothers, aunties and grandmothers in collaboration with First Peoples theatre industry professionals.
WATCH DEVELOPMENT VIDEO
While the project is still in development it is the strategic ambition of the community that the work tours widely following the development. The final part will culminate in workshop presentations within the Saibai Island communities, and based on anticipated successful outcomes, ILBIJERRI already has interest from significant cultural institutions nationally and internationally.
Stage 1: February 2019 – Project planning – completed
Stage 2: February 2021 – Community engagement – completed
Stage 3: August 2021 Creative development on Country on Saibai Island – in progress via zoom and on Country, focused on Community engagement, writing and linguistics, puppetry workshops, Cultural Protocol and Engagement training, design meetings and script development
Stage 4: 2022 – Creative development and workshop presentations with four Saibai Communities in Cairns, Brisbane, Bamaga and Thursday Island
Stage 5: 2023 - Rehearsal, premiere and national tour, followed by an international tour
BIW A GITHALAY has gone through an extensive period of cultural consultation and creative development with cultural mentors, linguists, community and the professional creative team to establish cultural protocols, process development, concept, design and script structure. A culturally safe, deep listening process is integral to the work. Creative development and consultation is currently underway via zoom and on country, focused on community engagement, writing and linguistics, puppetry workshops, Cultural Protocol and Engagement training, design meetings and script development.
During the next development process, the creative and cultural team will spend a week with each of the Saibai communities in Cairns, Brisbane, Bamaga, and Thursday Island. They will work with teachers, children and community members to workshop and present a performance of BIW A GITHALAY. This process will include supporting the teaching staff to assist in curriculum engagement to integrate the school learning process with cultural learnings and creative expression. The resulting workshop performance will be presented publicly for the local community.
This project will have a lasting and tangible impact on communities leaving a legacy of language, skills and true pride within the Saibai community. There is an unmet and growing demand for First Nations work for children. ILBIJERRI productions often tour for a decade or more regionally, nationally and internationally.
This project will:
BIW A GITHALAY is supported by the Australian Government through the Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, Arts Queensland, Bamaga Productions, the Playking Foundation, and Annamila. QPAC is also a proud supporter of Biw a Githalay in supporting the development of the work for the past year.
Story Holders Seven Clans of Saibai Island
Senior Cultural Consultant & Co-writer Milton Walit
Senior Cultural Consultant MacRose Elu
Co-Writer John Harvey
Director/Facilitator Rachael Maza AO
Senior Language Consultant Mariana Babia
Brisbane Location Facilitator Nancy Bamaga
Bamaga Location & Language Consultant Leonora Adidi
Puppet/Costume Co-Designer Sedrick Waia