“Yirra Yaakin creates, presents and celebrates First Nations’ theatre, performance and stories. Local stories inspiring the globe.”
Yirra Yaakin [Yir-raarh Yaarh-kin] means “Stand Tall” in Noongar. Based in the heart of the Noongar Nation – a distinct Aboriginal cultural group from the south-west of Western Australia – Yirra Yaakin is Australia’s biggest Aboriginal-led theatre company.
Established in 1993, the Year of Indigenous People, as Yirra Yaakin Noongar Theatre, we started off with one successful funding application, three staff members and the desire to provide the Aboriginal community with an artistic outlet for positive self-determination.
Since then, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company has evolved into a respected cultural leader and artistic hub for Aboriginal people from all over WA, Australia, and around the world.
Yirra Yaakin produces award-winning, world-class theatre, sharing Aboriginal stories through exciting, entertaining, educational and authentic new works. The company has commissioned and premiered more than 50 new major Festival presentations like Waltzing the Wilarra, One day in 67, Aliwah, Windmill Baby, Cruel Wild Woman, Hecate, The Sum of Us and Panawathi Girl. We have worked with and nurtured prestigious Aboriginal writers including David Milroy, Sally Morgan, Derek Nannup, Mitch Torres and Dallas Winmar, among many others.
We stand tall and are proud to produce a body of work unrivalled in innovation, excellence and cultural significance. Yirra Yaakin’s priority is to ensure Aboriginal theatre remains under Aboriginal control and provides opportunities for Aboriginal artists at all levels of theatre creation and production. Our education and community engagement programs support Indigenous trainees to be mentored, develop skills and work in the Australian theatre sector.
Yirra Yaakin presents Aboriginal stories to audiences across the globe. Our work has been recognised with awards for theatre, governance and our partnerships, including a prestigious Sidney Myer Award for our record of facilitating Indigenous artistic programs.
Dr Richard Walley
Yirra Yaakin Founding Patron
Dr Richard Walley OAM
Born in Meekatharra (about 750 kilometres north of Perth) in 1953, as a child Richard moved with his family to Pinjarra, 80 kilometres south of Perth.
At twenty-three, he was chairing the Aboriginal Advisory Board and was actively involved in the formation or operation of the Aboriginal Housing Board, Aboriginal Medical Service, Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Alcoholism Committee, Aboriginal Sports Foundation and the New Era Aboriginal Fellowship.
In 1978 Dr Walley began his illustrious career in the arts, when, with three friends, he formed the Middar Aboriginal Theatre.
Aiming to take the Nyungar culture from the South West corner of Western Australia to as many people as possible, Middar’s success can be gauged by its results. During its lifetime, the Middar group performed in thirty-two countries, on every continent, to live audiences totalling almost ten million people.
Victoria Laurie, The Australian
Danny Ford OAM
Professor Fiona Stanley AC
Some of our accolades:
- Skylab – First co-production with Black Swan State Theatre Company in 2018
- King Hit – 2015 Best Production / Performing Arts WA Awards
- The GIANTS – 2015 Perth International Arts Festival, Creative Direction Indigenous Component
- Ilaru: A Celebration – 2014 Western Australian Museum 21st Birthday Exhibition, Event and Publication
- 2013 Creative Partnerships Australia Awards – Woodside Better Business Award, State and National Winners
- Kyle J Morrison, Artistic Director – 2013 NAIDOC Perth Award, Outstanding Achievement
- First Aboriginal company to translate and perform Shakespeare sonnets in an Aboriginal language (Noongar). Performed at Globe Theatre, London for 2012 UK Cultural Olympiad
- First Aboriginal company to produce major musical theatre production, Waltzing the Wilarra by David Milroy, a world premiere at the 2011 Perth International Arts Festival
- Finalist for three Helpmann Awards, including Best Original Score
- Winner of three WA Equity Guild Awards, including Best New Play, and finalist in nine
- Finalist in the Premier’s Literary Awards
- First ever “living” Community Cultural Partnership in Australia with the Western Australian Museum
- Premiere production of Honey Spot by Jack Davis in 2012 at Sydney Opera House
- Presentation of Good Lovin’ by David Milroy, an important community work promoting positive sexual health messages, free to communities state wide from 2009 to 2012
Emerging artist, at the opening night of Skylab (2018)
Please click below to view Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s Annual Reports:
We rely on you, our community, for our future creative and cultural programs. Your donations, encouragement and friendship provide vital support for the ongoing development of our artists and our work. Help us share Aboriginal stories by becoming a donor today!