Our History

Our History

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company exists to share Aboriginal stories.

We look to the past to help define the present and pass stories to the future. Our artists and outcomes will improve the cultural health of all involved and allow space for an Aboriginal voice to be heard. 

Our core audience is derived from the Perth metropolitan area, with secondary audiences reached through our metropolitan, regional and remote touring program. Other audiences are reached through our national and international programming, workshops, festivals and special events.

Yirra Yaakin supports and values Aboriginal culture in all its diversity, embracing all language groups and using protocols and ways of working that ensure respect for Elders, culture and country.

Yirra Yaakin in 2016 is Australia’s largest Aboriginal theatre company, and it is a strong company with a proud history.

Since 1993, the company has been producing new Aboriginal theatre to audiences drawn from the Perth metropolitan area, schools statewide, and the Aboriginal community. Over 400,000 people have enjoyed Yirra Yaakin performances.

This iconic company has also toured six continents and thirteen countries, performed in all states and territories of Australia servicing the most remote and isolated communities.

It has won numerous awards including best Overall Partnership in the State Arts Awards, Excellence in Community Partnerships, the Prince of Wales Trophy for Outstanding Community Service and the Indigenous Facilitators Prize at the Sidney Myer Arts Awards.

The company has commissioned and premiered over 50 new theatre works. These include major festival presentations such as Waltzing the Wilarra, , One Day in 67, Solid, Alice, Aliwa, Windmill Baby and Cruel Wild Woman. Contributing writers have included Dallas Winmar, Mitch Torres, David Milroy, Ningali Lawford, Kelton Pell, Sally Morgan, and Jim Holland amongst others.

More than 20 original youth-focused productions have been developed in that time, with the company undertaking scores of residencies and workshops across WA. Yirra Yaakin has also produced a range of original issue based works covering road trauma, relationships and sexual health to support the Departments of Health, Justice and Welfare, touring these works extensively into Western Australian communities.

Right now the company in association with Artistic Director, Kyle J Morrison Yirra Yaakin is realising an exciting and diverse program. This encompasses a range of projects, which are strengthening the pathway towards the company vision of improving the cultural health of all Aboriginal people and generating respect for Elders, culture and country.

Yirra Yaakin’s current strategy is designed to maximise artistic exploration and development through expanded creative development processes and the introduction of strategic programs to grow the company’s capacity to produce a range of contemporary theatre works for diverse audiences.

Yirra Yaakin Aboriginal Corporation has public benevolent status, and is formally recognized as a leading indigenous cultural provider and Centre of Excellence by the Australia Council through its Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Arts Board. This sees Yirra Yaakin currently supported with four years multi-year funding through to the end of 2020.

Yiira Yaakin is also supported by the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts, Healthway, and partners Woodside and Chevron. Additional supporters in 2016 include, CountryArts WA, Perth International Arts Festival, Water Corporation, The Fremantle Dockers & the ECU Indigenous Performing Arts Course amongst others.

The Record – Past, Present and Future

Established in 1993 as a Youth Arts organisation, Yirra Yaakin delivered outreach community performance projects using access, participation and equity as the guiding principles. There was a strong parallel focus on staff training and the development of Aboriginal arts workers, with success in these areas bringing both internal and external pressure to deliver an annual program of professional theatre.

From 1997 to 2003 the strengths of the company, consistent with the strengths of Artistic Director David Milroy, were in new writing and the presentation of new professional Aboriginal theatre. Over this period more original professional works were presented to a general public audience than by any other Perth-based companies.  In addition more emerging Aboriginal writers were developed and produced than by other Aboriginal theatre companies around Australia. 

From 2004 to 2008, Executive Producer Samantha Cook focused on an International outlook with the company’s work framed within a broader socio-political agenda. The company toured existing work and an Education program flourished with a significant new issue based stream funded with Health, Justice and Welfare support touring extensively to WA Aboriginal communities.

Since 2009 Artistic Director Kyle Morrison has been dedicated to the delivery of new, quality work for the general public, balanced with an ongoing commitment to Aboriginal communities, Education and family audiences. Kyle takes the position as a strong example of our Artist development program, having worked with Yirra Yaakin in a variety of trainee, core staff and freelance artist roles since 2000.

The current annual program has a mix of established and new Aboriginal theatre works alongside theatre for young people. Yirra Yaakin continues to be a leading employer to a wide range of Aboriginal artists and arts workers. Through its Next Step Training Program Yirra Yaakin is able to give first time theatre practitioners real experience, by working with skilled and experienced mentors in a professional environment. With such a wide range of theatrical workers employed more frequently, Yirra Yaakin is supporting and growing the Aboriginal performing arts sector for the years to come.

1993 - Officiated as Yirra Yaakin Noongar Theatre Company

Listings of all shows by year:

1993 – 1995

11 youth theatre shows

Metro

 

Wicked

Come Out Festival NW Tour

 

1995

 

The Bird

 

Metro/Come Out Festival (SA)

 

The Wayarning

Metro/outer metro

 

The Runaways

Metro

 

Prehysterical Times

Metro

 

Dusk Song

Metro/outer metro

 

The Winners

Geralton

 

1996

 

Ooh La Nah Nyungah

 

Metro

 

Clamin’

Outer Metro

 

Donkalonk

Awesome Festival

 

1997

 

Runamuk

 

PIAF

 

Headspace

Metro

 

King Hit

Metro

 

1998

 

King Hit

 

Metro/SW Tour Brisbane Festival

Country Arts WA Tour

 

Booyi Koora Koora

Metro/outer metro

 

1999

 

Cruel Wild Woman

 

PIAF

 

Booyi Koora Koora

Metro/ outer metro

 

King Hit

Metro Tour

 

Alice’s One Night stand

Artrage Festival

 

2000

 

Solid

 

PIAF

 

Djildjit

Brisbane Festival

 

Aliwa

Metro

 

2001

 

Alice

 

PIAF

Melbourne Festival

 

Djildjit

Schools Tour

SW Tour

 

Solid

Eastern States Tour

Albany Centenary

 

One Day in 67

Shinju Festival

 

2002

 

One Day in 67

 

PIAF

 

Inside Out

Metro

 

King Hit

Mid-west/Gascoyne Tour

Cue Festival

 

2003

 

Karl Karniny: Welcome to our Fire

 

PIAF Opening

 

Djildjit

City of Perth

 

Kutta Kutta – No Excuse

Metro

 

One Day in 67

Kimberley Tour

 

Stand Tall Talent Night

Metro

 

2004

 

Welcome to Country

 

PIAF

 

CHOOteam Comedy Troupe

Survival Day

 

Kutta Kutta – No Excuse

Metro/SW Tour

 

Muttcar Sorry Business

Metro/NW Regional

 

Whaloo Is That You?

Metro/SW Tour

 

One Day in 67

Sydney

 

2005

 

Muttacar Sorry Business

 

Metro/Goldfields

 

Welcome to Country

PIAF

 

Whaloo Is That You?

Metro/Pilbara Tour

 

Windmill Baby

Perth

 

2006

 

Muttacar Sorry Business

 

Metro/Pilbara Tour

 

Welcome To Country

PIAF Opening

 

In The Nyitting Time

Metro/Mid West/Gascoyne

 

Windmill Baby

National Tour

 

Djitty Djitty Flies North

Canada/UK

 

Windmill Baby

UK & Ireland

 

BArdi/Nlbjlm Dancers

UK & Europe

 

2007

 

Windmill Baby

 

Perth/India Tour

 

In The Nyitting Time

Metro/NW Tour

 

Winter Dreaming

City of Perth

 

Muttacar Sorry Business

Metro/NW Tour

 

Jla’s Bush meeting (presentation)

Metro

 

2008

 

Muttacar Sorry Business

 

Metro/SW/Great Southern Tour

 

Honouring Theatre: 3 Play International Season

Metro

 

I Don’t Wanna Play House

Metro/NZ/Canada

 

In The Nyitting Time

Metro/SW/Great Southern Tour

 

I Don’t Wanna Play House

Karratha

 

2009

 

Muttacar Sorry Business

 

Metro/Mid-West/Gascoyne Tour

 

Windmill Baby

UK/Metro

 

Talk It Up

Pilbara/Kimberly Tour

 

Good Lovin’

Goldfields/Remote

 

Respect (DVD)

Metro

 

2010

 

Honey Spot

 

Metro/SW Tour

 

If I Drown, I Can Swim

Metro

 

Mother’s Tongue

Metro

 

Good Lovin’

Metro/Mid-West/Gascoyne

 

I Don’t Wanna Play House

National Tour

 

2011

 

Waltzing the Wilarra

 

PIAF

 

Honey Spot

Metro/WA Tour

 

Good Lovin’

Metro/Pilbara Tour

 

2012

 

Sonnets in Noongar

 

London

 

Good Lovin’

NW Pilbara/regional

 

Black as Michael Jackson

Metro

 

Yirra Yarns

Metro

 

Honey Spot

NSW Tour

 

Culture 2.0

SW Tour

 

Kaarla Kaatijin

Awesome Festival

 

2013

 

Sonnets in Noongar

 

PIAF Opening

 

Kaarla Kaatijin

Metro/WA Museum

 

Culture 2.0

Goldfields Tour

 

Kep Kaatijin

Awesome Festival

 

The Cake Man

Metro/Sydney

 

2014

 

King Hit

 

Metro

  Yirra Yaarnz NAIDOC Events
  Kep Kaatijin Metro/Regional WA
  Ialaru: A Celebration Metro
  Kaarla Kaatijin Metro/NW Tour


2015


The Giants


PIAF

  Culture 2.0 SW Tour
  Kep Kaatijin Metro/Schools
  Gudirr Gudirr Metro
  The Fever and the Fret Metro
  Yirra Yaarnz NAIDOC