Reflections

In 2007, the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) presented Reflections: 40 Years and to the Future, a musical theatre performance for graduating Advanced Diploma students. It also showcased the abundance of talent within the rest of the cohort, with students enrolled in all courses participating. In an ACPA first, the production was staged in the Cremorne Theatre at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) under the direction of award winning actor, director and writer, Leah Purcell.

Students had the opportunity to spend time with Elders who had been 1967 Referendum warriors in the campaign, including Uncle Bob Anderson who shared stories of his involvement, working alongside Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Aunty Kath Walker). After hearing these stories from community members and other Aboriginal political activists, such as Uncle Sam Watson and Aunty Vanessa Fisher, the students became truly inspired.

This momentum encouraged further research into the 1967 Referendum and other important political and social events. Character development sessions had students exploring activists and campaigners such as Uncle William Cooper (Yorta Yorta community leader), Faith Bandler (South Sea Islander human rights fighter) and Jessie Street/ Red Jessie (non-Indigenous political campaigner).

As the complexity of our history became apparent, more themes were explored.  Reflections commented also on the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families known as the Stolen Generations, the events of the Freedom Rides led by Charles Perkins and The Wave Hill Walk-Off with Vincent Lingiari, among overarching issues of race discrimination, civil rights and freedoms.

Working across each of the performative areas, these stories and experiences were expressed through the production of songs, music, poems, monologues and dances. The individual and collective contributions were pieced together to create a musical theatre based script resulting in Reflections.

While students were gifted the experience of working with the remarkable Leah Purcell, many talented trainers contributed to a variety of pieces. Special mention must go to Penelope Mullen, Jools Purchase, Nik Hills and Jeanette Fabila; all well respected dancers and choreographers. Support also came from Bangarra Dance Theatre, Cultural Edge Design, Queensland Theatre Company, Reconciliation Australia and kuril dhagun at the State Library of Queensland.

Reflections attracted audiences that offered laughter, tears, applause and standing ovations in a packed out theatre. Its success resulted in a second season the following year. Both the 2007 and 2008 productions were sold out shows and remain a significant moment for Indigenous theatre in Brisbane.

Caleb Stanley, ACPA Alumni

Role in Reflections: Rapper / Composer / Actor
Scenes: Sc7 William Cooper, Sc11c Placard 2: Equal Pay, Sc12 Rise, Sc15 Classroom Drama Pt1, Sc17 Classroom Drama Pt2

Caleb began studying at ACPA while in grade 12 as an alternate form of study with the support of his school. The principal was aware of his passion for music so supported his decision and assisted Caleb in the application process.

Interacting with like-minded people and grasping the opportunity to learn from a variety of trainers including Leah Purcell, boosted Caleb’s confidence. Being involved in Reflections taught him about the history of his people back home in Cherbourg who lived under the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act, 1897 and how they overcame adversity in the years following the ‘Yes Vote’. Equipped with new knowledge and a fresh sense of pride, Caleb felt inspired to begin writing lyrics for what later contributed to ‘Rise’ (sc12) - the empowering hip hop song performed at the peak of Reflections as an ode to the ongoing strength of Aboriginal people.

 

Ten years on, Caleb continues to chase his dream of a successful career in music as Buda K while raising two daughters.

Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

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Caleb Stanley, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

Katie Pascoe, ACPA Alumni

Role in Reflections: Composer / Pianist / Vocalist
Scenes: Sc3, Sc8, Sc11a Placard 1: Don’t Take Our Children

Kate had originally enrolled at ACPA as a part-time music student but soon became enthralled in the atmosphere and found herself attending full-time. In her graduate year (2007), Kate played an integral musical role in Reflections as a lead pianist, vocalist and composer of many scores.

During the research process, Kate was lucky enough to have a one-on-one conversation with Faith Bandler who spoke gallantly of Human Right’s activist Jessie Street – the lady that brought her on board with the campaign for the 1967 Referendum. Through these conversations, Kate says she gained a newfound level of understanding towards her fellow students’ experiences and the struggles of their people.

Ten years on, as a non-Indigenous person, Kate has the utmost respect for her Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peers and will forever admire their innate courage.

Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

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Katie Pascoe, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

Kaylah Tyson, ACPA Alumni

Role in Reflections: Dancer / Composer / Choir
Scenes: Sc5 Blackfella Greeting, Sc6 Spirit Walkers, Sc9 Protestors & Placards, Sc10 Referendum Crusaders, Sc11f Placard 5: ‘Give Equal Rights Throughout Australia’, Sc11h Placard 6: Don’t Just Count Us, Let Us Count! Sc12 Rise, Sc13 Hey, How Ya Goin?, Sc20 Freedom, Sc21 I Wonder/ Here I Am

Prior to enrolling in ACPA, Kaylah had a passion for dance but no training. She did not expect that the studies, which she pursued for fun, would set her on a path that would become a long term career.

During the research process for Reflections, Kaylah was shocked to find that she had much to learn about her people’s history – especially because of her family’s strong community involvement through activism and social work, and because she wasn’t taught these histories in school.

Ten years on, Kaylah is employed at State Library of Queensland and boasts a decades’ experience in youth and community services whilst being a self-managed musician, better known as Kaylah Truth.

Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

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Kaylah Tyson, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

Ronald Cora

Role in Reflections: Composer / Rapper / Beatboxer
Scenes: Sc5 Blackfella Greeting, Sc14 A.B.O.

Ronald, better known as MC Triks, began studying at ACPA after the first season of Reflections at QPAC in 2007, with original material that he had written and composed prior to his enrolment.

As a young man who grew up rich in culture and language, he began song writing as a contemporary healing process in response to racism. One song in particular, A.B.O. – Australian Black Original sparked the interest of director, Leah Purcell, who added it to the script in time for the second season in 2008.

The skills collected through this time of professional development assisted Ronald in giving back to his local community by way of providing a self-funded recording studio and youth focused space.

Ten years on, Ronald is building an independent record label and raising three daughters.

Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

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Ronald Cora, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

Teleah Lindenberg, ACPA Alumni

Role in Reflections: Dancer / Choir
Scenes: Sc5 Blackfella Greeting, Sc6 Spirit Walkers, Sc11a Placard 1: Don’t Take Our Children Away, Sc11d Placard 3: What Life Is Mission Life? Sc11f Placard 5 Give Equal Rights Throughout Australia, Sc12 Rise, Sc13 Hey, How Ya Goin?, Sc20 Freedom, Sc21 I Wonder/ Here I Am

Teleah is a passionate dancer who chose to study at ACPA in hope of being exposed to the community and culture that she missed out on due to being a descendent of the Stolen Generation.

As a lead dancer in pieces that portrayed child removal and life on a mission, Teleah was faced with a re-enactment of her own family’s history and feels blessed to have been given an opportunity to share these experiences with a wider audience.

She holds the memory of Reflections close to her heart as she believes it was during that time that she found her sense of identity, which in turn instilled pride in herself and her heritage.

Ten years on, Teleah is a researcher for the First Peoples Health Unit at Griffith University – a career that she says was inspired by her education as an ACPA student and Reflections cast member.

Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

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Teleah Lindenberg, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

Grace Beleiwai, ACPA Alumni

Role in Reflections: Dancer / Vocalist / Actor
Scenes: Sc5 Blackfella Greeting, Sc6 Spirit Walkers, Sc7 William Cooper, Sc11a Placard 1: Don’t Take Our Children Away, Sc11f Placard 5: Give Equal Rights Throughout Australia, Sc20 Freedom, Sc21 I Wonder / Here I Am.

When Grace auditioned for ACPA she had no idea that she was about to experience what she feels was the best year and a half of her life.

As a shy 20 year old, she took a leap into Performing Arts studies in hope of boosting her confidence, but did not anticipate her time becoming much more than music, dance and acting. Through research and conversations with Elders and her fellow students in preparation for her dance role in the Stolen Generation piece, Sc11a Placard 1: Don’t Take Our Children, she became educated about the oppression of Australia’s Indigenous people. Of Fijian heritage, Grace gained an appreciation of her own culture through this experience.

Ten years on, Grace boasts a strong sense of self- confidence that shines through her work as a fashion blogger and stylist.

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Grace Beleiwai, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

Marion Knox, ACPA Alumni

Role in Reflections: Actor
Scenes: Sc8 Referendum Red Jessie, Sc11c Placard 2: Equal Pay

At the age of 42, Marion first realised she was born under The Act [Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act, 1897], as an ACPA student. The research and creative process behind Reflections not only taught Marion about the Referendum but also an insight into some of her own life experiences.

Upon receiving the Oodgeroo (Kath Walker) monologue for Sc8 Referendum Red Jessie, Marion became captivated by Oodgeroo’s story and contribution to the fight for equality so familiarised herself with as much of the renowned poet’s work as possible.

Ten years on, Marion is a proud grandmother with aspirations of educating through writing and producing creative work so she can pass on her important learnings to her grandchildren.

Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

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Marion Knox, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

Violet Love, ACPA Alumni

Role in Reflections: Actor/ Dancer
Scenes: Sc5 Blackfella Greeting, Sc6 Spirit Walkers, Sc8 Referendum Red Jessie, Sc11a Placard 1: Don’t Take Our Children Away

When Violet recalls her time at ACPA, she labels it some of the most rewarding moments of her life. The research process, including Yarning Time with Elders, took her on an emotional rollercoaster that inspired her to delve further into her own family history.

Feeling empowered, Violet delivered amazing performances as Faith Bandler and the ‘Mother’ in the ‘Stolen Generation’ dance of Sc11a Placard 1: Don’t Take Our Children Away, both of which she was extremely overwhelmed to have been chosen for.

Ten years on, whilst raising two daughters, Violet is an experienced flight attendant for Virgin and imparts knowledge and empowerment as an Indigenous mentor within the company’s recruitment sector.

Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.

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Violet Love, ACPA Alumni. Photo by Jo-Anne Driessens, 2017.