What's On

The Honouring

Jackie Sheppard

Presented in Season 1 2023

Presented by Arts House as part of FRAME: A biennial of dance

Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 March 2023
Wed – Sat, 7.30pm

60 minutes

Auslan Performance
Thu 16 March, 7.30pm

Standard $35
FRAME Pass $28
Reduced $20
A small transaction fee will be charged per order.

This show is suitable for ages 16 years and up. Contains themes of suicide, trauma narratives, spiritual illness & self-harm.

The Honouring contains coarse language, adult themes, smoke effects and haze, loud music and sound effects, flashing lights, abrupt light changes and lights that change colour and intensity.

Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Assistance Animal
Assistive Listening
Auslan Interpreting
Companion Card
Quiet Space Available
Visual Rating 50%
Wheelchair Accessible

Grief, upheaval & healing animate this powerful work of dance-theatre.

As we carry our storylines with us, grief can find home in the body. The Honouring is a powerful attempt to reckon with suicide, death and grieving, diving deep into our inner dimensions where loss has played host; attempting to return to oneself through a revival of ritual, through which we can resuscitate.

The work is a raw and visceral depiction of the grieving process. Through dance, puppetry and physical storytelling, it illuminates where trauma can take root in the body, psyche, and soul.

Jackie Sheppard has here woven a complex, challenging and ultimately transformative investigation that pulls no punches. The Honouring is Jackie’s pathway to realising where healing ceremonies have laid dormant within, to explore a ritual of revival that responds to mass death.

★★★★…a multilayered, frequently elusive, eerily familiar, remarkable rendering of the existential nature of life itself.” – Jennifer Barry, Artshub

★★★★The work inhabits a personal reckoning with the destruction of Aboriginal people and cultures, wrought by colonialism, by the successive waves of migrants who came to this land uninvited. It pulls no punches on the spiritual implications of that continuing history, challenging all to reflect upon it.” – Cameron Woodhead, The Age

“I watch as on stage Sheppard tucks his people in to dream without ceremony, dance or song. What else is there to do but sit quietly with him and begin to speak back from the dead?” – Julia Hurst, University of Melbourne

“It’s what a lot of the audience were calling a ‘conversation starter’ on opening night. It’s also a well-overdue invitation to our communities to slow down and reflect on an epidemic that we unintentionally sweep under the rug too often.” – Davey Thomson – Blak Critics, Yirramboi

“The Honouring invites its audience into the ethereal space of trauma – we are witnessing the embodiment of the emotions and thoughts that are going through Sheppard’s mind” – Irene Bell, The Music


Artist Statement

When Jackie began the development process of The Honouring in 2017, they experienced a deep heaviness. The process was re-opening Jackie's trauma wounds. It was emotionally unsustainable, traumatic, and morbid. Jackie realised that to be able to deliver a meaningful outcome - a work that would be safe, and of benefit to the Indigenous community to witness and absorb, they would need to shift their approach in creative inquiry. Over a two-year period of creative developments, Jackie figured out how to use the project to facilitate closure - a method of purging and healing. Out of a history of forbidden traditional grieving came a re-creation of Ceremony unique to Jackie. The process became intentional and included pulling together a team who were not only brilliant in their respective professions, but who could all hold space for and support each other. By closing night of the world season premiere of The Honouring, at YIRRAMBOI 2019, Jackie felt that much of the wounds had now become scabs. They felt a deep sense of catharsis. The iteration is yet again surrounded and held by a phenomenal team who converge their skill sets with intuition to create magic. The iteration will further explore the role that ceremony has to play, in uplifting our souls out of the darkness, by shining a light within.

About the artists

Jackie Sheppard – Lead Creative & Performer
Jackie is a mixed medium performer, storyteller, dancer and workshop facilitator. Their creations are inspired by the multilayered narratives of Sovereign peoples. Jackie attempts to identify and interrogate Ancestral, Intergenerational and embodied narratives that are relative to Blak lived experiences. Focusing on Somatic, Spiritual and Sub-conscious “bodies”, Jackie seeks to shed light in dark places, exploring taboo and complex topics. They have studied dance at NAISDA Dance College, Acting at WAAPA’s Aboriginal Theatre Course, & are working towards a reclamation process of Indigenous Embodied practices. Some notable projects Jackie has co-devised are: The Honouring (a solo show created & performed by Jacki Sheppard with creative guidance and direction by Rachael Maza, Tim Denton, Jasmin Sheppard, Rinske Ginsberg & Jacob Boehme); Chasing Smoke (Casus Circus); Wild Australia – Men in Chains by Jacki Sheppard; & Crackpipe Dreaming @ Melbourne Fringe Festival, 2019. They are embarking on a new ongoing research project, ‘SENTIENCE’, through the Art X Science Residency through Arts House and the Science Gallery Melbourne.

Ayesha Mehta – Lead Puppeteer
Ayesha Mehta is a vocalist, shadow puppeteer, writer, poet, educator and visual artist. Committed to radical visibility and storytelling through dynamic and uninhibited original music, art, words and filmmaking, Ayesha was both nominated for the Outstanding Women in Music Award and a recipient of the AMP Tomorrowmakers Fund in 2021. She is the co-founder of GRID Series, a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Lumiphonic Creature Choir, curated as Program Director of the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival 2022, and is co-founder of Taipei’s iconic community arts platform, Red Room. As a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Ayesha has performed with Assembly, Lamine Sonko, Allara, Arco Rens, and Nic Cassey - as well as appeared on numerous recordings of artists across so-called Australia. She has featured in performances at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Victoria’s Multicultural Festival, Premier’s Gala Dinner, Generations Festival and the Contemporary Asian Art Festival. As a shadow puppeteer she has performed at Adelaide Fringe with Lahara, and studied with the Chicago Puppetry Festival.

James Henry – Sound Design
James Henry has been in demand as a composer and sound designer writing various blends of traditional Aboriginal and contemporary genres. His diverse skill set has seen him compose for Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choir and musical director for the Dreamtime at the G opening ceremonies, as musical director of Tanderrum; Melbourne Festival Opening Ceremonies, various theatre and dance productions as well as commissions. James earned a nomination for best documentary score at the 2022 AACTA Awards for his work on ‘Freeman’. In 2023, James will be the First Nations Composer in Residence for Ensemble Offspring as well as an inaugural participant in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s ‘First Voices’ program. ‘Tracker’ will premiere at the Sydney Festival and ‘Jacky’ will premiere for Melbourne Theatre Company in which James will be the sound designer/composer.

Yumi Umiumare - Creative Mentor
Born in Japan, Yumi is an established Butoh dancer, choreographer and creator of Butoh Cabaret works. She has been creating her distinctive style of works for 30 years and her creations are renowned for provoking visceral emotions and engaging with cultural identities with a sense of humour. Yumi’s works have been seen in numerous festivals in dance, theatre and film productions throughout Australia, Japan, Europe, New Zealand, South East Asia and South America and have received several Australian Green Room awards. As a choreographer, Yumi has worked with many socially engaged theatre projects in Australia, including communities of First Nations, refugees and culturally diverse people and also inclusive companies. She is a recipient of the fellowship from Australian Council (2015-16) and a winner of the Green Room Geoffrey Milne Memorial Award (2017). Yumi is a key figure of the international contemporary Butoh scene and artistic director of ButohOUT! festival in Melbourne since 2017, teaching and activating local and international Butoh communities. Yumi ‘s recent works focus on Dance, Tea and Spirit.

Jacob Boehme - Dramaturg & Provocateur
Jacob Boehme is a Melbourne born and raised artist of the Narangga and Kaurna Nations, South Australia. A multi-disciplinary theatre maker and choreographer, creating work for the stage, screen and festivals, Jacob has led the artistic direction of large scale public events: Tanderrum Melbourne Festival, Boon Wurrung Ngargee Yalukit Willam Festival, Thuwathu Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair and choreographed for the opening ceremonies of the FINA World Swimming Championships, Cricket World Cup, Dreaming Festival and Dreamtime at the G. Jacob is the founding Creative Director of Yirramboi Festival, recipient of the 2018 Green Room Award for Curatorial Contribution to Contemporary and Experimental Arts. Jacob is the writer and performer of the critically acclaimed solo work Blood on the Dance Floor, recipient of the 2017 Green Room Award Best Independent Production.


Choreographer/Director: Jackie Sheppard
Creative Mentor: Yumi Umiumare
Dramaturg and Creative Provocateur: Jacob Boehme
Lead Puppeteer: Ayesha Mehta
Projection Artist: Jeevika Rajagopal
Sound Design: James Henry
Lighting Design: Jenny Hector
Production and Stage Manager: Steph Young
Special acknowledgment and thanks: Irihipeti Waretini

Supported by
The Honouring has been supported by the City of Melbourne through Arts House.

Image Credit: James Henry

Image Description: Jackie Sheppard is captured in a dance motion, representing them running through dimensions of grief. The backdrop is a murky grey background, shrouded in shadow, a light illuminating from behind. Silhouettes of dead Black Birds falling from the sky surround Jackie’s head.

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