Conversations with the Dead

Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melboure

Past Event

ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, in association with Arts Centre Melbourne, presents ILBIJERRI Ensemble in Conversations with the Dead by Richard Frankland, as part of Future Echoes

“Imagine that you’re a Koorie, that you’re in your mid-twenties, that your job is to look into the lives of the dead… Imagine. Walk in my shoes.”

Jack, a young, ambitious Koorie is juggling the contradictions of working in both black and white worlds. How does he stay true to his cultural responsibilities whilst the justice system he works for fails to understand the pain and rage of his people?

Conversations with the Dead is Richard Frankland’s response to being an investigator during the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1987-1991).

Having worked together since April 2019, Conversations with the Deadis the inaugural performance by the ILBIJERRI ENSEMBLE, a dynamic team of emerging First Nations artists.

ILBIJERRI ENSEMBLE unanimously selected to perform Conversations with the Dead as they were moved by its relevance and the urgency of its message today. This important work of First Nations playwriting resonated deeply, as their generation and communities are still affected by the contents of this report that is still yet to be acted upon.

As recently as 2018, over half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who died in custody or during arrest were yet to be found guilty of any crime. The recommendations of the Royal Commission have never been implemented. Conversations with the Dead will be renowned actor Shareena Clanton’s directorial debut. Shareena will be supported by ILBIJERRI’s Artistic Director Rachael Maza.

For the first time, Conversations with the Dead will be performed by an ensemble cast, who will perform with the strength of a collective voice, one that is culturally relevant, powerful and demanding change.



  • Suitable for years 15+
  • Adult Themes
  • Sexual References
  • Coarse Language
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people should be aware this production does not contain any names of people who have passed, but has material that may cause distress.

ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s ILBIJERRI Ensemble is supported by Annamila Foundation, Arts Centre Melbourne, The Australia Council for the Arts The Australian Governments Arts Funding & Advisory Body, The Department of Communication & The Arts Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, Gandel Philanthropy, Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust.


  • Wheelchair access
  • Assistive hearing
  • Companion Card

Creative Credits

Performed by ILBIJERRI Ensemble

Kayra Meric, Corey Saylor-Brunskill, Benjamin Fei, Jyden Brailey, Kalarni Murray, Zachariah Blampied, and Caleb Thaiday

Writer Richard Frankland

Director Shareena Clanton

Cultural Safety Coordinator Shiralee Hood

Lighting Design Richard Gorr

Set & Costume Design Darryl Cordell

Sound James Henry


Photo by Jeff Busby

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