‘A girl's strength is hard to describe. The impossible task is holding the sky up on your shoulders. No one can take my sky, my tree and my red earth from me’. - Kaitlyn
In collaboration with Worawa Aboriginal College, St Martins presents a work that overturns common assumptions about First Nations’ girls. In 2017 St Martins was invited to run workshops at Worawa and so began a relationship with the school and some of its Year 10-12 girls, who come from the remotest parts of Australia and board in Healesville to get an education, grow in confidence and claim ownership of their identities and abilities. Many leave home being the first or only girl to get a secondary school education. They hope to finish Year 12, continue onto tertiary study or go back as leaders in their own communities.
Balit Liwurruk: Strong Girl is a performance made with a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists that speaks out about strong and smart girls. Often the girls are multilingual, with English not their first language. Aunty Lois Peeler, the school’s principal, Aboriginal Elder and sister of founder Hyllis Maris (Wurundjeri and Yorta Yorta woman), refers to the girls holding the ‘parallel realities’ of Aboriginal lore and Western culture - at the school they learn to ‘walk the two worlds’. With these coexisting realities as a departure point, the project asks what it takes to carry language and culture whilst being a girl today.
In a rite of passage from girl to woman, twelve girls turn the classic myth of Hercules inside out, repossessing its masculine notions of being strong into their very own 12 tests of strength. Balit: Liwurruk: Strong Girl is an invitation to contemplate the Herculean determination, depth and pride of girls emerging from Country across our vast Australian continent.
‘I’m a strong-minded person. I’ve been through stuff. I had to be determined. I told my mum that I wanted to go to school.’ - Paris
Balit Liwurruk: Strong Girl is a contemporary and poetic take on culture and the ways we find the inner strength to stand on the shoulders of previous generations to reach into the unknown.
‘It’s like you’re holding something really old but when you carry the language, you’re carrying the land and you’re carrying the people with you. No matter how much time goes by, it’s still going to be there, inside of us. Nobody knows what's inside of us but us.’ - Mary Cruz
Worawa Principal and Elder: Dr Lois Peeler AM
Featuring: Aunty Zeta Thomson with Rose Archie, Kimberley Benjamin, Paris Carpio, Shontay Charles, Tiara Douglas, Mary Cruz Fernandez, Mariah Manggurra, Justine Ronberg, Rochelle Tipiloura, Dorothea Tipiloura and Katelyn Woodhouse.
Director Nadja KostichComposer Naretha WilliamsSet and Costume Designer Emily BarrieChoreographer Rheannon FordDramaturge Kamarra Bell – WykesProducer Damienne PradierLighting Designers Rachel Burke and John FordVideo Designer Michael CarmodyArtistic Associate Katrina Cornwell Artistic Contributors Eva Grace Mullaley and Carissa LeePerformance Coach Chanella Macri
Four performances only!
Wednesday 4 September 2.30pm
Friday 6 September 7pm
Saturday 7 September 3pm and 6pm
4-7 September, 2019
Irene Mitchell Studio St Martins 44 St Martins Lane South Yarra
- General admission
- Community Performance