Crying Baby

About the production

Crying baby is an intercultural performance weaving contemporary, historical and djang (dreaming) stories from Western Arnhem land. The work is spun around a traditional orphan dreaming story and its resonance with the legacy of Mr Watson, the first white man in Arnhem land. These stories are told by Thompson Yulidijirri and interpreted by The Marrugeku Company in its stunning fusion of contemporary and traditional performance styles. Crying Baby is a large-scale outdoor work incorporating physical theatre, video and traditional Indigenous dance, music and storytelling. The production combines the work of Western Australian urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous dancers and musicians and Kunwinjku dancers, storytellers and musicians from Gunbalanya, Arnhem Land.

Crying Baby gives dynamic theatrical form to the experiences of a young nation occupying the land of an ancient culture. The performance explores issues of cultural identity, of blurred edges between story, history and dreaming which challenge our understanding of ourselves on the edge of the 21st century.

“First thing I can say, I think it’s gamak (very good) that new story and old story go together. I will start with Crying Baby, this place, somewhere behind Coopers Creek. The story starts at Croaker Island, finishes up at Gapari. That little boy, he was crying, all the time crying, all the time crying for food. If you let that little boy crying all the time, little boy will make rainbow come, will kill you all. Like this mob, white man came and take children away, might be I can’t see them when they grow, they go away from mother and father, no one looking after them. I draw that story in that book. White man collect all them children. Take away, never come back. We have to look after them kid, or then that rainbow angry, coming to kill all”

“Telling that story, that is a good way to teach so those balanda (white people) can learn too. Might be they got no mother and father too, those balanda children. Might be they got rainbow serpent too. I think that is good, gamak, if you people dance I will see it and ask, what is this one? Everyone dancing Crying Baby or Mr Watson or Lightning Man or whatever, but I want to see it dancing. Try and work it out, what is the best way to tell this story, work it out, dance, try to do this way or might be no good, we do it that way. If you think first good, go ahead do it with your dancing. We are finding a new way, never mind if we don’t know the song, its lost, maybe we can find a new strong one.” (Thompson Yulidjirri, Story Man

Music also plays a significant role in the intercultural nature of Crying Baby. By weaving traditional song, contemporary music and technology with language, sampled sound and a variety of instrumentation we create a synthesis drawn from contemporary and traditional life/ As well. the multi-screen video installation, shot by Aboriginal film maker, Katej man Warwick Thornton assists the weaving of contemporary and traditional stories.

Crying baby is an intercultural performance weaving contemporary, historical and djang (dreaming) stories from Western Arnhem land. The work is spun around a traditional orphan dreaming story and its resonance with the legacy of Mr Watson, the first white man in Arnhem land. These stories are told by Thompson Yulidijirri and interpreted by The Marrugeku Company in its stunning fusion of contemporary and traditional performance styles. Crying Baby is a large-scale outdoor work incorporating physical theatre, video and traditional Indigenous dance, music and storytelling. The production combines the work of Western Australian urban Indigenous and non-Indigenous dancers and musicians and Kunwinjku dancers, storytellers and musicians from Gunbalanya, Arnhem Land.

Crying Baby gives dynamic theatrical form to the experiences of a young nation occupying the land of an ancient culture. The performance explores issues of cultural identity, of blurred edges between story, history and dreaming which challenge our understanding of ourselves on the edge of the 21st century.

“First thing I can say, I think it’s gamak (very good) that new story and old story go together. I will start with Crying Baby, this place, somewhere behind Coopers Creek. The story starts at Croaker Island, finishes up at Gapari. That little boy, he was crying, all the time crying, all the time crying for food. If you let that little boy crying all the time, little boy will make rainbow come, will kill you all. Like this mob, white man came and take children away, might be I can’t see them when they grow, they go away from mother and father, no one looking after them. I draw that story in that book. White man collect all them children. Take away, never come back. We have to look after them kid, or then that rainbow angry, coming to kill all”

“Telling that story, that is a good way to teach so those balanda (white people) can learn too. Might be they got no mother and father too, those balanda children. Might be they got rainbow serpent too. I think that is good, gamak, if you people dance I will see it and ask, what is this one? Everyone dancing Crying Baby or Mr Watson or Lightning Man or whatever, but I want to see it dancing. Try and work it out, what is the best way to tell this story, work it out, dance, try to do this way or might be no good, we do it that way. If you think first good, go ahead do it with your dancing. We are finding a new way, never mind if we don’t know the song, its lost, maybe we can find a new strong one.” (Thompson Yulidjirri, Story Man

Music also plays a significant role in the intercultural nature of Crying Baby. By weaving traditional song, contemporary music and technology with language, sampled sound and a variety of instrumentation we create a synthesis drawn from contemporary and traditional life/ As well. the multi-screen video installation, shot by Aboriginal film maker, Katej man Warwick Thornton assists the weaving of contemporary and traditional stories.

  • Venues and Dates

    World Premiere
    Crying Baby was first presented at the Perth International Arts Festival in February 2001.

     2002
    Cultura Inglesia Festival,
    Sao Paulo Brazil.
    May

    Sydney Festival.
    January

    2001
    European Festivals Tour to Netherlands,
    Belgium, Ireland.
    June / July

    Opening Australian National Museum,
    Canberra.
    March.

    Perth International Arts Festival,
    February

    2000
    Avant Premiere, at Ganbalanya Community
    Darwin Festival.
    August

     

     

    World Premiere
    Crying Baby was first presented at the Perth International Arts Festival in February 2001.

     2002
    Cultura Inglesia Festival,
    Sao Paulo Brazil.
    May

    Sydney Festival.
    January

    2001
    European Festivals Tour to Netherlands,
    Belgium, Ireland.
    June / July

    Opening Australian National Museum,
    Canberra.
    March.

    Perth International Arts Festival,
    February

    2000
    Avant Premiere, at Ganbalanya Community
    Darwin Festival.
    August

     

     

  • Creative Team

    Storyman
    Thompson Yulidjirri

    Director / writer
    Rachael Swain

    Choreographer
    Raymond Blanco

    Composer
    Matthew Fargher

    Designer
    Andrew Carter

    Set Engineering, Building, Special FX & Rigging
    Joey Ruigrok van De Werven
    Costume Designer
    Edie Kurzer
    Lighting Designer
    Mark Howett
    Multi-Screen Video Director & DOP
    Warwick Thornton
    Editor
    Reva Childs

    Dramaturg
    Peter Eckersal

    Performers / Co-devisors

    Dalisa Pigram
    Sofia Gibson
    Trevor Jamieson
    Katia Molino
    Simon Peat
    Tanya Mead
    Eddie Nailibidj
    Rexie Barmaja Wood
    Harry Thompson

    Musicians / Co-composers

    Songman: Bruce Nabegeyo
    Mako: Steven Ganaradj
    Base guitar:
    Lorrae Coffin
    Story narration:
    Thompson Yulidjirri

    Violin, keyboards, voice
    Mathew Fargher

    Executive Producer
    Justin Macdonnell

     

     

    Storyman
    Thompson Yulidjirri

    Director / writer
    Rachael Swain

    Choreographer
    Raymond Blanco

    Composer
    Matthew Fargher

    Designer
    Andrew Carter

    Set Engineering, Building, Special FX & Rigging
    Joey Ruigrok van De Werven
    Costume Designer
    Edie Kurzer
    Lighting Designer
    Mark Howett
    Multi-Screen Video Director & DOP
    Warwick Thornton
    Editor
    Reva Childs

    Dramaturg
    Peter Eckersal

    Performers / Co-devisors

    Dalisa Pigram
    Sofia Gibson
    Trevor Jamieson
    Katia Molino
    Simon Peat
    Tanya Mead
    Eddie Nailibidj
    Rexie Barmaja Wood
    Harry Thompson

    Musicians / Co-composers

    Songman: Bruce Nabegeyo
    Mako: Steven Ganaradj
    Base guitar:
    Lorrae Coffin
    Story narration:
    Thompson Yulidjirri

    Violin, keyboards, voice
    Mathew Fargher

    Executive Producer
    Justin Macdonnell

     

     

  • Gallery
  • Supporters

    Crying Baby was commissioned by the Perth International Arts Festival and the Sydney Festival and made possible by and Injalak Arts and Crafts Association, Oenpelli, NT.

    Crying Baby was funded by the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals, through the Major Festivals Initiative of the Australian Government, the Australia Council for the Arts

It is synthetic theatre at its boldest, most expressive and physical. It is the Dreamtime before our eyes: and the time of nightmare too.

Nicholas Rothwell The Australian