23 September 2019

Words and movement: three reasons not to miss My Urrwai

| Hayden Fritzlaff
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Photograph shows multiple versions of performer Ghenoa Gela

My Urrwai is coming to The Q this August. Photo: David Collins.

Upon peeling back the layers of Ghenoa Gela’s most recent show, you learn that there is no exact English translation of ‘My Urrwai’.

It can be approximated by combining ‘my spirit, my style, my essence’, but the only way to approach any kind of real understanding is to experience this work of movement and words first hand.

Here are three reasons not to miss My Urrwai when it arrives at The Q later this month.

Photograph shows performer Ghenoa Gela looking at herself in a theatre mirror

Ghenoa Gela created and stars in My Urrwai. Photo: Daniel Boud.

Ghenoa Gela is a one-of-a-kind performer

Ghenoa Gela – a dancer, actor, comedian, gold medallist, fighter and TV star among many other things – is the star of the show.

A strong Torres Strait Islander woman hailing from Rockhampton, she’s lived many lives as a performer and ultimately as the only one with the ability to continue and pass down her Grandmother’s dance.

It’s that combination of her deeply personal responsibility and the universal languages she uses that makes Gela such an intriguing performer. With a slew of awards to her name, including the Keir Choreographic Award and the Deadly Funny Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award, Gela has travelled the world developing her craft. My Urrwai marks her most introspective and emotive work yet.

The team has worked on some of your favourite shows and films

My Urrwai has been produced by Performing Lines, a theatre company that have worked on innovative theatre experiences out of their Redfern base for over 30 years.

Taking the reigns as Director is Rachel Maza, known best for her performances in Radiance and the stage production of The Sapphires. Her directing credits reach back to the early nineties, and she’s been involved with nearly every part of the industry since, with roles in television and notably as an acting coach on Rabbit Proof Fence.

A dedicated behind-the-scenes team have created careful and intricate lighting and sound design for My Urrwai, enlivening the performance space and Gela’s solitary stage experience.

Photograph shows two hands emerging from darkness

Movement, sound and words come together to make My Urrwai a captivating piece of contemporary theatre. Photo: Daniel Boud.

It’s an intense, beautifully-crafted piece of theatre

Since premiering at the 2018 Sydney Festival, My Urrwai has been met with rave reviews around the country, with critics noting Gela’s charming stage presence and genre-crossing performance style to be genuinely moving.

Expect warmth and belly-busting laughter, but also quiet, dark ferocity as Ghenoa brings forth her different identities. Taking on these characters allows Ghenoa to explore her full story; everything from the way she nurtures her cultural traditions through to secretly learning nineties dance moves from her brothers.

The show doesn’t shy away from complex subject matter. It touches on colonization, family and belonging, all through the eyes of a mainland Torres Strait Islander woman.

My Urrwai is both a stunning night out at the theatre and a window into Gela’s life, one influenced by her traditional and contemporary cultures.

Catch My Urrwai at The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre on August 23 at 10:30 am or 8 pm. Tickets on sale now at theq.net.au.

Original Article published by Hayden Fritzlaff on The RiotACT.

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