History

Our History

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 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 recognised as a leading indigenous cultural provider. This sees Yirra Yaakin currently supported with four years multi-year funding through to the end of 2020.

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.

Listings of all shows by year

2017

The Noongar Shakespeare Project – Subiaco Arts Centre/Metro

Conversations with the Dead – Subiaco Arts Centre

Sista Girl – Subiaco Arts Centre

Boodja Kaatijin – Metro/Regional WA

Culture 2.0 – Kimberley Tour

Yirra Yaarnz – NAIDOC Events

2016

Boodja Kaatijin – Subiaco Arts Centre

The Noongar Shakespeare Project – Subiaco Arts Centre/Metro

So Long Suckers – Subiaco Arts Centre

Yirra Yaakin’s Family Picnic – Subiaco Arts Centre

Hobo – NAIDOC Events

 

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 Events

2014

King Hit – Metro

Yirra Yaarnz – NAIDOC Events

Kep Kaatijin – Metro/Regional WA

Ialaru: A Celebration – Metro

Kaarla Kaatijin – Metro/NW Tour

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

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

2011

Waltzing the Wilarra – PIAF

Honey Spot – Metro/WA Tour

Good Lovin’ – Metro/Pilbara Tour

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

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

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

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