Myour name is Alethea Bitson, I’m Kabi Kabi / Gubi Gubi and Virajura, a narrator and dreamer who is currently working with Elijah, Ethan, Lenny, Nick, Mystery, Rice, Che and Loki to tell a story called HIDDEN. Interesting title, hey?
READY this is a new performance by Digi Youth Arts – a family of deadly young artists and creators who honor our ancestors, honor the elderly and continue the story of one of the oldest preserved cultures in the world. We work in solidarity with The Good Room, a Queensland-based performance team that uses the anonymous experience of ordinary people to create extraordinary theatrical works.
For COOKED, a group of young Indigenous people (aged six to 27) asked questions to settlers / colonizers and newcomers to so-called Australia through a website where the crowd could give anonymous answers as well as ask us questions. Then we turned it into a show. And what a journey it was.
Narrative is how we share and pass on knowledge and tell our truth. This is how we join our history, ancestors, traditions and future.
– Mystery Touler, performed by Wiradjuri.
I won’t talk about content – work is my life, so I’ll let her do it. But I will talk about the process. It was not difficult to unite as indigenous peoples over this work. It is possible to imagine new stories of ancestors without problems. This group of young performers and the wider Digi Youth Arts team of Che, Loki and me, along with our seniors at the residence of Aunt Colin Wall and Uncle Charles Passy, obviously had to connect at this time and create.
Narrative is not only a means of transmitting knowledge to future generations, but also necessary for healing. That is why it is very important for us to return these spaces so that our communities can unite, express themselves and celebrate through Black’s joy.
– Lenesha Duncan, Wakka Wakka performer.
Our rehearsal room has become a major place for recuperation, training and strategy development – as many of these rooms are designed for crowds here and around the world. It is in the space between creation and movement that we find the answers we have been looking for. Because in every passage of a performance or stage we learn about ourselves something new that we will carry with us forever.
I tell stories through movement and dance. This is how I express myself and my way of (re) connecting with community, culture and myself.
– Nicholas Currie Inns, performer Mununjarli and Bundjalung.
Everyone brings their skills and knowledge to the space, and it deepens our work. We also recreate the way we have always told stories without following the modest rules of Western art practice. From rock rap to captivating dance to intergenerational conversation, our story is not really a theater, as our non-native peers know.
The story has always been in my blood. Growing up in a family where there were traditional dances, it was quite comfortable to be on stage and continue to tell these stories.
– Ethan Enoch-Barlow, performer of Quandamooka
In these lands we have always been engaged in “theater”. I recently received my PhD in Creative Industries, focusing on how uprising and renaissance function in the creative development of ancestral performance. But my “true” education in this space has worked with generations for the past nine years with Digi Youth Arts, telling stories across all performance, learning how to do it with agency, protocol and deep time.
The return of our space is important because our ancestors have been deprived of their own, and because we now have a stage, we can amplify and present that voice to our people who bring back our name, crowd and identity and own it.
– Elijah Manis, performer of Kulkalgal Nation.
The spaces in which Digi Youth Arts, I and many other indigenous artists should work are not created for our processes. Every act on the main stage is motionless act of reclamation. Working with Aunt Cole and Uncle Charles on this project gave us an idea of the extent to which we can regain a place they may not have been able to. It is a reminder that they fought for us.
When I perform, I feel a sense of growth and pride, but feeling it towards our young people makes sense. I will always be grateful to my community for allowing me to do this.
– Che Skin, Wakka Wakka/ Birra Gubbi producer at Digi Youth Arts.
It is an honor to play a role in sharing the stories of the youngest generation of one of the oldest preserved cultures in the world. I can’t wait to watch them march through these burned doors and conquer space in ways that can still be imagined.