GURR ERA OP
Ghenoa Gela with Force Majeure
in association with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company
Presented by Arts House and RISING
Tickets on sale March 2024
Wednesday 12 – Sunday 16 June 2024
Wed – Fri, 7.30pm
Sat, 2pm & 7.30pm
Thursday 13 June, 7.30pm
Sunday 16 June, 5pm
General Admission $49
A small transaction fee will be charged per order.
This performance of GURR ERA OP contains themes of colonisation and climate change, strong language, sustaining loud sounds and haze effects. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patrons are advised that there is a video playing in the foyer that contains the images of people that are deceased.
A partial lockout applies – latecomers will be seated approximately 10 minutes into the performance. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Some communal seating will be used.
More detailed access information will be available prior to the event.
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
Join four mainland-born Torres Strait Islander women as they battle against the rising tide threatening their home, culture and identity.
GURR ERA OP (“the face of the sea” in Meriam Mir) is a celebratory sharing of culture and a call to action in the face of climate devastation, interweaving hybrid Torres Strait Islander contemporary storytelling, movement and spoken word.
What would you do if you could never go home? Is your culture bound by place or by self? What happens to your identity when the physical place that holds your ancestral foundations disappears?
These are some of the questions the storytellers grapple with daily as they watch their motherland, family and communities suffer the onslaught of climate change. The Torres Strait Islands are currently on the front lines – but ultimately, all our homes are next.
Award-winning choreographer and performer Ghenoa Gela (My Urrwai, Sydney Festival 2018) presents her landmark work, in a culmination of many years of creative association with Force Majeure. Now in collaboration with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s Amy Sole and Rachael Maza AM, the result is a vivid imagining of loss, and a call to action for a better future.
‘This is easily the most affecting work I’ve seen this festival season…a call to action, and in this period of post-referendum soul-searching, it hits hard.’ ABC Arts (for GURR ERA OP)
‘One of our most ground-breaking performers with a unique story-telling ability being able to elicit an audience’s full range of emotions with her humour and humanity.’ Dance Life (for Ghenoa Gela’s My Urrwai)
‘A genre-bending show that explores the narrative of colonialism, culture and connection with humour.’ – ArtsHub (for Ghenoa Gela’s My Urrwai)
About the artists
CREATOR / DIRECTOR / WRITER / PERFORMER
With a foundation of traditional Torres Strait Islander dancing, Ghenoa has navigated the arts industry in Australia across several mediums such Dance, Theatre, Circus, Television, Film and Stage. Her credits include: MY URRWAI, Directed by Rachael Maza, YOU ANIMAL, YOU, Force Majeure; MURABUAI–with Director Danielle Micich; ARE YOU TOUGHER THAN YOUR ANCESTOR, Flying Kite Pictures-Host; FROM THE GROUND UP, Circus Oz-Host; FRAGMENTS OF MALUNGOKA–WOMEN OF THE SEA, Director and Choreographer; THE RETURN-Hilda, Scarlett, Nancy and The Wife-Director Matthew Lutton; DEMOLITION-Polytoxic; HOT BROWN HONEY-Quiet Riot; NUDETUESDAY, Director Armağan Ballantyne. Ghenoa was also the winner of National Keir Choreographic Awards 2016 and the winner of the National Deadly Funny Championships at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017.
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR / ILBIJERRI THEATRE CREATIVE ASSOCIATE
Amy Sole is a proud Wiradjuri/Worimi person. Amy is a director, playwright, actor, dramaturg, producer and advocate. They are a current graduate of the MFA (Directing) at NIDA and hold a Master of Theatre (Playwriting) from VCA, and an Advanced Diploma in Acting at AFTT. Recent works for theatre include Burning (writer/director, NIDA, 2022), Nan's Place (writer, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company as part of Blackwrights, 2020-21), Doing (writer/director, Kings Cross Theatre, 2019). Amy has worked as assistant director on productions of God's Country (NIDA, 2022), Metamorphoses (NIDA, 2021), RENT (Sydney Opera House, 2021). Amy regularly directs developments of new works at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, including Dylan Van Den Berg's Way Back When in 2020. Amy has worked in various roles at Queensland Theatre Company, Moogahlin Performing Arts, Hayes Theatre Co, and Playwriting Australia including production, dramaturgy, and consulting. They are currently Creative Director of Big Blak Bang, a festival of First Nations storytelling and Artist-in-Residence at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Co-Founder of Puddle or Pond Theatre Company, and a sitting Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee.
ARTISTIC CONSULTANT / FORCE MAJEURE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Danielle is a highly awarded choreographer, director, intimacy director and performer of dance theatre and is currently Artistic Director of Force Majeure. She makes new work for festivals, theatre productions, opera and film, alongside site-specific and community work. After graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts and relocating to Perth as a company dancer for 2 Dance Plus, she was appointed Artistic Director of STEPS Youth Dance Company. Her independent work extends nationally and internationally, working with companies such as Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, Black Swan State Theatre Company, Perth Theatre Company, Night Train Productions, Steam works Arts Productions, Dwhani Dance Company (India), Barking Gecko Theatre Company, Pinchgut Opera and Monkey Baa Theatre. As an intimacy director she has worked across live performance, film and television, with her credits including BUMP (Roadshow/Stan), SET PIECE (Performing Lines) Titus Andonicus (Bell Shakespeare) andBerlin Syndrome (Cate Shortland/ Aquarius Films). She has been Artistic Director of Force Majeure since 2015, based at Carriageworks in Sydney. Danielle’s ambition is to contribute to making new Australian work through storytelling that reaches audiences by exploring themes and issues relevant to contemporary culture; reflecting, embracing and challenging community attitudes and ideals.
Katy Moir is an Artitect (Art+ Architecture). Her primary creative practice is the creation and activation of space, her passion is community engagement. In 2020 Katy commenced work as the Designer for Neighbour, a community-led, participatory, multi-course dinner performance. With four local storytellers as hosts, Neighbour connects the community by inviting audience members to take a seat around a dinner table to share food, hear stories and get to know their neighbours. Neighbour celebrates the diverse communities that make up each place it visits. In 2021 Katy completed a residency at the Northern Territory Archives. A Hypothetical Place was a self-led research, community engagement and visual art project that challenged the design ego, and drew attention to the limits of archival research and the colonial structures that house them. Katy began a process of re-mapping places, to start to tell a different story, and hopefully contribute to a decolonisation of Australia’s planning. The acknowledgement of first peoples within our country has grown, but until we are able to reflect on the histories that led to the structures we operate in, we will continue to repeat acts of systematic colonisation, despite individual efforts. Katy’s work exposed histories and stories that are an inherent part of everyday interactions with a place, that some are privileged enough to ignore.
Samoan Australian Lisa Fa'alafi is a multidimensional artist and teine toa living and working on the lands of the Yuggera and Turrbal people. Lisa has 25 years’ experience as a performer, designer, dramaturg and director and her work is visually stunning, highly entertaining, conceptual, political and uses theatre as an instrument to create social change. The heart of her process makes space for indigenised feminine processes, pushing cultural and gender boundaries as well as Decolonising western theatrical spaces. Lisa is Co-Director of artist collective Polytoxic who have performed nationally and internationally, most recently Polytoxic was commissioned by Brisbane Festival for two large scale works; Snapshot multimedia aerial work 2020 and Matilda award nominated feminist work Demolition 2021. Lisa is Co-creator, Writer, Director, Designer, Choreographer and Performer for the international smash hit Hot Brown Honey, touring globally for 8 years, performing across six countries and has received numerous national awards including a Helpmann, Sydney Theatre Award, Green Room Award, and Edinburgh Fringe Award. Lisa is also the Co-creator and Director of Hive City Legacy Project which aims to share the HBH process of empowerment to make a global Hive of BIPOC femmes.
Kelsey is a lighting, set and costume designer for theatre and film. Kelsey’s recent projects include Lighting Designer for Sex Magick (Griffin Theatre Company) and Associate Lighting Designer for Blue, At What Cost? (Belvoir St Theatre). Last year, Kelsey was Co-Lighting Designer with Katie Sfetkidis for Whitefella Yella Tree (Griffin Theatre Company); Set and Costume Designer for A Practical Guide To Self Defence (NTofP); Lighting Designer for The Comedy Of Errors (Bell Shakespeare) and Set Designer for Nothing (NTofP). Previously she designed the lighting for A Room of One’s Own (Belvoir St Theatre). She was the co-production designer with Grace Deacon and Lighting designer for Destroy, She Said for Belvoir’s 25A. They won Best Set Design for an Independent production at the Sydney Theatre Awards 2022. Previously for 25A, Kelsey designed the lighting for Extinction of The Learned Response, Sky duck and Kasama Kita. She designed the lighting, set and costumes for Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge (ACO), which won Best Production for Children at the 2021 Sydney Theatre Awards. Kelsey previously collaborated with the ACO in 2019 on There’s A Sea in My Bedroom. Other credits include Letter A For Molly; Unqualified 2: Still Unqualified; Outdated; Killing Katie (Ensemble Theatre), Queen Fatima (NToP and Sydney Festival), Jali (Aya Productions, Griffin Theatre Company), A Is For Apple (Griffin Lookout); I’m With Her (Darlinghurst Theatre Company); April Aardvark (ATYP); Good Dog; If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You (Greendoor Theatre Company) and Lulu: A Modern Sex Tragedy (NIDA). Her film credits include Production Assistant on Long Story Short (See Pictures) and was in the Set Dec Department for Shang Chi and The Legend of the 10 Rings (Marvel Studios).
COMPOSER AND SOUND DESIGNER
Ania is an award-winning composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and installation artist who works and collaborates across a range of disciplines. In 2011, she won a Green Room Award for Best Musical Direction in Cabaret for her role in Yana Alana and Tha Paranas In Concert . Other credits include work with Asphyxia (The Grimstones), NICA and the Flying Fruit Fly Circus; improvisational performance Man On A Bike With A Piano at White Night Geelong 2018.
Taryn Laleen Beatty is of Torres Strait Island descent on her mother's side (Moa & Darnley Islands) and Aboriginal descent from her father's family (Wuthathi Tribe) and also family heritage from Waiben & Badu Islands in the Torres Strait as well. Taryn was born in Mossman (KukuYalangi) and grew up in Cairns (Yidinji tribe) in far north Queensland. Taryn graduated from NAISDA Dance College and has since performed and taught extensively, including performing with the acclaimed Bangarra Dance Company at the Closing Ceremony of the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Taryn started a family dance group called InDidgDance which toured in schools nationally. InDidgDance have performed at the UN Headquarters in New York City, Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, Australian Festival in Nashville and various Native American Pow Wows. Overseas tours also include Japan, China, Korea, Qatar, France, Spain and New Zealand. Taryn toured to Turtle Island (Canada) with Force Majeure working on Ghenoa Gela’s work Mura Buai.
Taryn has worked closely with Aboriginal communities in western Sydney with Street University (Ted Noffs Foundation) as a Cultural Facilitator and at Plumpton High School as an Aboriginal Education Worker. Taryn currently works as a Zumba fitness instructor in gyms, a Cultural Educator performing in schools and a pre-service teacher. She is in her 5th year of study for a Bachelor of Education degree (ACU). She continues to perform and share Indigenous culture through performances and workshops nationally and internationally.
BERTHALIA SELINA REUBEN
Berthalia Selina Reuben, or Selina as she is known to many, is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, a descendant of the Peidu and Samsep tribes of Erub, Darnley Island. Growing up in a family with a strong Torres Strait Island cultural heritage, Selina has practiced her cultural dances from a young age which today shows through her passion for cultural dance and knowledge.
Selina began her technical dance training at National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) Dance College where she has successfully completed her Diploma in Professional Dance Performance.
Since graduating from NAISDA, Selina was cast in the production of Stolen for two seasons under the direction of NAISDA Alumni Vicki Van Hout for National Theatre of Parramatta (NToP) which also toured regional NSW.
Selina has performed with Force Majeure in the work Mura Buai co-directed by Torres Strait Islander multidisciplinary artist Ghenoa Gela and Artistic Director Danielle Micich, which toured to the Festival 2018 in Gold Coast and to Canada in 2019. Selina maintains a oae relationship with Force Majeure and are currently in development with Ghenoa's latest work Gurr Era Op.
Selina is one of the cultural sessional trainer at NAISDA Dance College where she shares her passion and cultural knowledge with emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. When she is not teaching, Selina facilitates Torres Strait Island dance workshops through Newcastle based, Aboriginal owned and operated business Speaking in Colour.
Through dance and cultural knowledge, Selina plans to continue working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth across Australia inspiring confidence and pride in their respective cultural heritage.
Graduate of National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA). She is a workshop facilitator leading Cultural and Contemporary Dance Workshops around Australia’s most remote communities such as the NPA (Northern Peninsula Area) region which include Bamaga, Injinoo, Umagico, New Mapoon & Seisia, Thursday Island, Kubin Village (MOA Island) and Lockhart River. Recently she has performed in Waru - journey of the small turtle for Bangarra Dance Theatre and dancer for the Yaban Festival.
Bronte works as a Sydney-based stage manager, and has had a range of experience working on mainstage and independent productions, musicals, professional touring shows, festivals, immersive theatre, and regional touring. Bronte’s production credits include The Barber of Seville–National Tour 2022 & 2023 (Opera Australia), Grand Horizons (Sydney Theatre Company), Life of Galileo (Belvoir), The Big Time, A Letter For Molly (Ensemble Theatre), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Godspell, Lizzie, Young Frankenstein (Hayes Theatre Co.), Cry Baby (LPD Productions & Sydney Opera House), Senior Moments (National Tour–Return Fire Productions). She has worked with Sydney Festival, Sport for Jove, and is also a published playwright.
Mark's practice is a hybrid of technical production, design, direction and performance, with a particular focus upon raw performance styles and integration of media into contemporary performance. He’s worked with many leading Australian and international contemporary arts companies across performance, dance, music and visual arts, touring work across 4 continents.
FORCE MAJEURE-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Amy is the Executive Director of Force Majeure, a national devising company that makes visceral interdisciplinary movement-based performance. Amy is passionate about fostering collaborations between diverse people, practices, and ideas to create impactful live experiences, and she brings her long practice of managing interdisciplinary collaborations to Force Majeure. She comes from the rich theatre-making community of Theatre/Media graduates (CSU Bathurst) and has worked in various contexts including devised performance, immersive theatre, social impact, commercial theatre, and large-scale outdoor events. Her experience includes STOMP in the West End and world tour, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, SKATE at the Cutaway and the Australian Event Awards. Amy has worked with organisations including Griffin Theatre Company, Belvoir, Big hART, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Opera Australia, Les Enfants Terribles (UK) and Glynis Henderson Productions (UK).
GHENOA GELA, 2023
Associate Director: Amy Sole
Artistic Consultant: Danielle Micich
Set Designer: Katy Moir
Composer & Sound Designer: Ania Reynolds
Sound Associate: Carl Polke
Costume Designer: Lisa Fa’alafi
Costume Associate: Tracy Datson
Lighting Designer: Kelsey Lee
Performers: Ghenoa Gela, Berthalia Selina Reuben, Taryn Beatty & Aba Bero
Stage Manager: Bronte Schuftan
Assistant Stage Manager: Rebecca Dilley
Production Manager: Mark Haslam
Impact Producer: Anna Weekes
Elders / Cultural Consultants / Advisors: Jack Gela, Annie Gela, (Late) Aunty Agnes Santo, Asau Ama, Meo Ama, Mua Awa, Sarah Gela and Joshua Thaiday
With special thanks to Rachael Maza and the Erub Community for always welcoming the GURR ERA OP team up to the islands.
Produced by Force Majeure in association with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company.
GURR ERA OP has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by Creative Australia, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., commissioned by Sydney Festival, RISING, Brisbane Festival and Ten Days on the Island.
Gela Family, Anson Family, Jack Anson Gela, Annie Gela, Agnes Santo, Meo Sailor, Mua Sailor, Nancy Nauwi, Sarah Gela, Joshua Thaiday, Erub Island Council, Erubam Rangers, Erub Community, Rachael Maza, Bob Cousins, Anna Tregloan, Colm O’Callaghan, Charlotte Barrett, Pip Sprott, Jason Thelwell, Kris Bird, Johanna Bell, CJ Fraser-Bell, Tim Newth, Sean Pardy, Alyson Evans, Anna Tregloan, Bob Cousins, Lucy and Stephen Chipkin, Cementworx Community Theatre- Travers Theatre, Darwin Community Arts Inc., Tanya Leach, Jennifer Darin & Dennis Cooper, Este Darin-Cooper, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, Carriageworks.
A special thank you to our Champion Donors for their ongoing support of Ghenoa Gela as Associate Artist and your part in bringing GURR ERA OP to life:
- Darin Cooper Foundation
- Helen Porter
- Katrina Chisholm
Thank you to all Force Majeure’s donors for your dedicated patronage.
Image Credit: Ashley de Prazer
Image Description: Three Torres Strait Islander women wearing all white are standing in the ocean, looking towards the camera. They are holding symbolic masks.