By Robert Frolla


Tomorrow, there will be a ‘blak out’ throughout Melbourne’s CBD. But this will have nothing to do with power shortages.


It will mark the opening of the Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival – an Indigenous festival run by the City of Melbourne, and co-created with First Nations People and Creative Victoria.


The Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival is a colourful celebration of local and international Indigenous-led performances in dance, music, visual art, film, talks and more, with over 60 free and ticketed events taking place.


The ‘blak out’, running from 5  14 May, will devote itself to Indigenous issues, life, culture and tradition within Melbourne’s beloved laneways, public spaces and arts venues.


Indigenous Australian nations from all over will perform, and these include the Wurundjeri, Wiradjuri, Wadi Wadi, Yorta Yorta, Ngarrindjeri, Worrimi and more. Yupik, Maori and other Polynesian performers will also be present during the festival.


‘Yirramboi’ is a word that means ‘tomorrow’ in the shared languages of Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung. The festival, living up to its name, will showcase acts that reflect on Indigenous life and culture in the past, present and, more importantly, the future.


Here are some chosen highlights that reflect the festival’s diverse art performances, talks and exhibitions:


Chasing Smoke
8.30 – 9.40pm, 6 – 9 May
Circus troupe BLAKflip tackle the serious question of identity through the limitless and daring form of contemporary circus, exploring culture, tradition and land as it was and should be.

Native Girl Syndrome
6.30 – 7.35pm, 6 – 8 May
Based on her grandmother’s experiences, Lara Kramer’s show deals with First Nations women migrating to an urban environment, highlighting the paralysing cultural assimilation and disorientation that follows.

La Vie Dans Une Marionette
8.30 – 9.30pm, 11 – 13 May
New Zealand’s White Face Crew presents ‘The Pianist and the Puppet’ – a tale of a lonely pianist and his companion puppet, told through physical theatre, clowning and dance moves.

And Then I Found Me
7 – 9pm, 12 May
Fiona Patten talks with Noel Tovey about his new memoir And Then I Found Me, which documents his life as an actor, choreographer and director during times of apartheid and criminalisation of homosexuality.

6.30 – 7.30pm, 11 – 13 May
Choreographer Mariaa Randall’s playful and multifaceted ‘Divercity’ features two women, belonging to two different Indigenous nations, who traverse the complexities of a transplanted life.


Don’t miss out this weekend or next week to learn more about Indigenous life and culture, and how we can make better steps to engage with and support the Indigenous community.


Yirramboi First Nations Festival
5 – 14 May
Full program




Robert is a freelance editor for Busybird Publishing, and has edited for Writers Victoria’s The Victorian Writer and Phantasmagoria Magazine.

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