Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Pathway through the Origins Festival. 1. Elders and Youth

Zugubal Dancers
The programme for the Origins Festival is vast - our biggest yet by far - so it can be quite a challenge to find your way around it.  To help out, we've traced three Pathways through the Festival, following the key themes that we used in programming, which we will publish over the coming days.  The three  themes are:
  • Elders and Youth
  • Politics and Protest
  • Food and Ecology
So today, we start with the Pathway -

Elders and Youth

The Zugubal Dancers almost embody this theme in the make-up of their group: eight young dancers, and two Elders who are travelling with them from the Torres Strait Islands.  Indigenous Australians have a great reverence for Elders, and these two are coming to provide stability and guidance for a group travelling far from their home 'country'.  You can see them performing at the Origins Concert and Indigenous Australia Late - Origins Festival at the British Museum.

The host for that night at the British Museum is another Australian Elder, Francis Firebrace, who will give you a taste of the traditional Elder's welcome.  If you want to hear more of the wisdom Francis has accumulated in his 80 years, then come to his storytelling event at Rich Mix, where he will be yarning for children and adults alike.

Museums are, of course, all about the relationships between generations, and we are really excited to be working so closely with the British Museum.  To find out more about the dialogues going on between museum curators and indigenous communities, come to the panel debate at Rich Mix, where there will be a wide range of differing opinions to be heard!

Staying with Australia, the Festival is really excited to be presenting all three of Rolf de Heer's films with the great veteran Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil.  The most recent, Charlie's Country, is the story of an Elder who finds it impossible to live in the contemporary world.  With strong elements of autobiography, Gulpilil charts a process of dislocation, and shows the possibility of redemption in Charlie's contact with the young.
Hamaca Paraguaya
A very different film, Hamaca Paraguaya also looks at the world through the eyes of the Elders: in this case an ageing Guarani couple, whose son has gone off to the Chaco War.  Originally commissioned by our Patron Peter Sellars, the film is an extraordinary meditation on time, mourning, and old age.

Our other Latin American film is El Regreso  from Venezuela - a film that concentrates not on Elders but on Youth.  The protagonist is Shliwala, a ten year old Wayuu girl, who survives the massacre in her village only to be faced with the alien world of the contemporary city.  The child actors are quite incredible.
Oxlajuj B’aqtun
Staying with Latin America, your Elders and Youth Pathway leads to our special outdoor event at Horniman's Pleasance, and especially to the inspired Mayan theatre company Grupo Sotz'il.  Their ritualised play Oxlajuj B’aqtun was made in response to their founder's assassination and the great change in the Mayan calendar, and so embodies a shift between generations and eras.

Finally, let your Pathway wind back to the Torres Strait, and Ilbijerri Theatre Company's Beautiful One Day at the Southbank.  A play which unites theatre professionals with the Elders and Youth of Palm Island, Beautiful One Day is full of a love for country and community, as well as an anger at their destruction.  The calm presence of Auntie Maggie Blackley at the centre of the performance is a reflection of the truly integrated nature of indigenous cultures: especially as the company will also be travelling with a very young baby.  The next generation of Palm Islanders will be here to direct your eyes forward beyond this Pathway.

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