How do we find the light within the dark? How do we cultivate beauty out of trauma and begin to heal, for ourselves and one another?
Both interdisciplinary and intercultural, Exhale is about Indigeneity, accountability and trauma. It explores the relationships and boundaries forged between Indigenous cultures on foreign lands; negotiations between environmental and urban lifestyles; and the ability to heal through storytelling.
Exhale is the creation of Black Birds – a Sydney collective fast gaining kudos for energetic, uplifting performances that astutely dissect the female Black and Brown experience in Australia. Incorporating art forms including spoken word, movement, dance, song and story, Black Birds’ work is at once intimate and unexpected, challenging and empowering.
Listen to the Artist Talk/Q&A featuring Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash, facilitated by Torika Bolatagici.
This work was developed with the support of Next Wave festival, Arts House and the City of Melbourne.
Black Birds is a performance about home, belonging and most importantly hair. It may not be about everyone’s hair, but everyone is certainly welcome.
Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash have a few things in common; names that seem difficult to pronounce, hair and the colour of their skin. The list could continue but nothing unites them more than their experiences as brown gals with Afros. Is their hair so big because it’s full of secrets? Find out as they discuss, explore and offer a vision for what it means to be a woman of colour in modern day Australia.
Adding spice to the traditional theatrical form and reimagining the rule book, this show blends music, movement, spoken word and real stories to create an intimate, unexpected and at times irreverent performance experience.
Sela Vai - Choreographer
Amber Silk - Lighting Designer
Tyler Hawkins - Production Designer
Ben Pierpoint - Sound Designer
Sopa Enari - Dramaturg
Development of this work was supported through Q Lab with The Joan
Sydney artist collective Black Birds bring their hard-hitting show to Griffin for Batch Festival. Their previous self-titled work was named by Sydney Morning Herald as “one of the hottest stage tickets for 2017.” Brown Skin Girl melds visual art, spoken word, music and movement, drawing audiences into the lives of three Black and Brown women as they navigate the complexities of life as twenty-somethings in Sydney.
Ruth Ruach, Hazey, Get to Work, Ayeesha Ash, Emily Havea, Angela Sullen, Sela Vai & Emele Ugavule
‘The kind of theatre that doesn’t simply engage audiences, but empowers them far beyond the hour of audience attendance.’ Broadway World
Rehearsal Photographs: Emele Ugavule
Performance Photographs: Zaina Rahmed
The 30 minute performance aimed to "highlight the struggles of being mixed race in a country that you don’t belong to. Emele Ugavule directed Ayeesha Ash & Angela Sullen in this short pop-up piece which incorporated movement, spoken word & music. The show followed their journeys as young girls both born outside of Australia (Grenada & the United States of America) and their struggle through teen hood to find community and likeness around them growing into young adults. It flowed in and out of verbatim, monologue testimony, and interviews to highlight how difficult it is to find somewhere to fit when you are disconnected from your homeland, from your people, from your culture.
This show was produced with the support of the Community Reading Room.
Indigenous knowledge systems vs. Scientific explanations.
ORA/MATE looks at both sides of the coin when explaining naturally occurring disasters, and the colonial interest in romanticising "the last" of Indigenous practices rather than preserving them.
Development of this work was supported by HIGH/WAY 234 with PACT, PYT| Fairfield & The Joan.
Blackbirding: a slave trade that swept through the Pacific and Far North Queensland in the 19th Century.
Indentured Labour: A type of exploitative Labour that was implemented after the abolition of slavery. Labourers worked on plantations and construction sites in the British Colonies.
Today, four women talk about their relationship with the indentured labour practice and the displacement it’s caused on their families and communities. Told through video installations, movement, poetry and music, Emele Ugavule weaves through the past, engaging with the installations to question her own relationship with Blackbirding.
After finishing their first self-titled full length performance work at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Black Birds are back with a new creation exploring the history of their namesake.
This project brought together visual and performing artists to explore traditional Fijian knowledge on the sacredness of the head, headrests (kali) and hair in Fijian culture. Museum research and community consultation formed the basis of our investigation as we revealed new ways of understanding contemporary Fijian hair practices and rituals; extending the notion that objects are containers of memory.
In collaboration with a Fijian community development expert Thelma Thomas, artists Torika Bolatagici, Lienors Torre; Emele Ugavule and Ayeesha Ash (Black Birds) produced an ambitious multi-artform project that premiered in the exhibition Wantok (curated by Luisa Tora) - part of Mangere Arts Centre - Nga Tohu o Uenuku’s programming marking the 125th anniversary of suffrage in Aotearoa New Zealand in April 2018.
This work is being developed with the support of the Australia Council.
Soul Food (God's Choice - Certified Organic Blackness) highlights how the commodification of foods and resources from the Carribbean & the Pacific are also a commodification of our culture and how religion dilutes the richness of our culture by subtly pushing white capitalist agendas in the name of integration into our traditions. The iconic coconut milk can brands both God's Choice & Anti-Throne to remind us of our own complicit in this commodification when we buy into religion. We are God's Choice - Black, Brown, and beautiful just the way we are.
Anti-throne is an ode to shared respect. As benches are common meeting places in the Pacific & mats are common sitting places we invite elders only in our Native tongue to sit on the bench. However, because it is a bench it must be shared - in contrast to the point of a throne.