In the deep darkness just before dawn, workmen find bones while excavating for a dam. Among them is a Yugambeh man, Bilin, who convinces his colleagues to let him keep the ancestral bones.
This ancestor is Wudjang, who longs to be reburied the proper way. With her young companion spirit, Gurai, she dances and teaches and sings with Bilin. She teaches Bilin and his niece, Nanahng, of the past, of the earth, of his songlines.
Wudjang: Not the Past follows the journey to honour Wudjang with a traditional resting place on Country, a place that she has revealed to be of significance and power. Traditional stories are more than tragic recollections about the past – they teach how the current generation moves forward with resilience.
Click here to read the full synopsis (includes spoilers).
WHERE DOES THE STORY TAKE PLACE?
Wudjang: Not the Past is set in the Yugambeh Language region in South East Queensland. Yugambeh is the Country of Artistic Director Stephen Page’s ancestry and birth.
The region includes traditional lands that lie within and between the Danggan Balun (Five Rivers). Christmas Creek (Migunberri Tribe), Beaudesert (Mununjali Tribe), Logan (Guginin Tribe), Coomera (Bullongin Tribe), Mt Tamborine (Wanagerriburra Tribe), Nerang (Kombumerri Tribe), Birinburra Tribe and Tweed River Valley (Minjungbal Tribe). Wudjang uses the language of the Mununjali clan of Yugambeh Country.
HOW IS A BANGARRA WORK CREATED?
The development of a new work is a process of typically 3-4 years commencing with a period on Country spending time with Indigenous Elders. At the end of a work’s life cycle, once it has been realised and performed to audiences all over Australia, we return the work to be performed on Country, in thanks and acknowledgement of the reciprocal relationship between the story and Country. Find out more about our Creative Life Cycle.
• Wudjang means mother in Mununjali language, or the spirit of Mother Earth.
• There are over 350 rubble rocks on stage, each of them hand carved.
• Wudjang: Not the Past is a Page family affair for Artistic Director Stephen Page. The Mununjali Language was passed on to him by his father Roy and brother David Page. Stephen’s sister Donna is Language Consultant on the production. Kirk Page, Stephen’s cousin, plays the role of Bilin.
• Elma Kris plays the title character of Wudjang. Originally from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, Elma has been a dancer and cultural consultant with Bangarra Dance Theatre for more than 20 years
Photo: Daniel Boud