Voices of History
19 Mar 2008
The Croobyar Project is providing a platform where representatives from the world’s oldest living culture can share their knowledge, wisdom with people the world over.
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The Croobyar Project is providing a platform where representatives from the world’s oldest living culture can share their knowledge, wisdom and beliefs with not just Australian communities but with people the world over.
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home. Aboriginal Proverb
The Croobyar Project combines the distinctive dance, art and musical skills of the Aboriginals with the mystical styles and warm sounds of Irish folk. The group was founded last year by theatre director and writer Michael Nangle, with musician and teacher, Mark Nangle and Noel Butler, a local Budawang Aboriginal. This unique collaboration weaves together the voices of history to create a rich performance-medley of music, art, dance and storytelling.
Music has formed an integral part of the social, cultural and ceremonial customs of Aboriginals for thousands of years. When time began, their ancestors created all the features of the landscape. To preserve their creation they sent songs down to Earth containing the rules that their offspring should follow: ones that asked for rain, halted a flood or made the wind turn back; songs that healed the wounded and mended the sick. Nothing was left out.
This way, each young Aboriginal learnt about the customs of their tribe and inherited its philosophy. They learnt what to eat, where to find it, how to prepare it and, most importantly, how to protect their environment and all its precious resources for the future.
Aboriginals therefore deem the preservation of these traditions as paramount for their survival and for ours too. Numerous communities worldwide have been dispossessed from their ancestral culture and this, the Elders believe, is the reason for many of today’s problems. If we are disconnected from our living’ past, how can we connect to a positive and healthy living’ future?
Croobyar, which means a place where possums dance in Aboriginal, is an area on the South Coast of Australia. The Budawang Tribe were the very first indigenous Australians to be sighted by Captain Cook in 1770, who claimed the region for Great Britain and renamed it New South Wales. Shortly after, around 26,500 Irish convicts’, themselves dispossessed people, were trans-ported to the region to relieve overcrowding in British jails. The conflict that followed between the white Australian community and the Aboriginal people is seen by the Budawang as a sad chapter in history but one from which we can learn and thereby heal.
The stage production focuses on this very journey, from dislocation and cultural dispossession’ to the rediscovery of one’s own ancestral story. Aptly entitled Celebrating Difference, this vibrant, enlightening performance invites the audience to do exactly that: to celebrate native folk culture, embrace the world’s identities, be taught some of the dance steps, learn to sing in Aboriginal, English and Gaelic, then participate in serious debate on the difficult cultural issues that the performance raises.
This year, the Croobyar Project plans to tour both in Australia and internationally, reaching as many local communities as possible. As it continues to grow, the project’s mission is to help inspire Western Europeans to engage with their own ancestral past, create a platform for dialogue between cultures and encourage people to reconnect with the earth beneath their feet.
Celebrating Difference’ will be touring the Gateways Theatre in Devon and the Playhouse in Derry, Northern Ireland, to perform and collaborate with local musicians, as well as those from France, Italy and Poland.
Gateway Theatre Box Office:
Tel: +44 (0)1769 574627
The Playhouse Box Office:
Tel: +44 (0)28 7126 8027
Left: Aboriginal musician
All photos: © the Croobyar Project
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