Indigenous and Non-indigenous artists in Australian mainstream theatre

By: Kirsty Reilly  

My research questions how Australian theatre rehearsal spaces might be more egalitarian and what might be needed to ensure Indigenous artists feel supported, empowered and culturally safe within Euro- Australian mainstream theatre modalities. The process has been organic and incremental over time to accommodate the many layers and complexities of the subject matter. Positive relationships between Indigenous and Non-indigenous Australian people could continue to evolve with continued exploration of the theatre rehearsal process of Bi-cultural artistic teams; the cultural safety, specific protocols and appropriate processes to incorporate Indigenous methodologies within the Western theatrical frameworks and the social equality that could be supported by this deep listening, observation and participation. How do we create a more culturally inclusive, aware, informed and safe rehearsal space where sensitive stories are being told with a Bi-cultural team? Ultimately rehearsal rooms are a microcosm of society. Human stories being shared and enacted by artists who arrive with their own cultural identity and lived understandings. The truths of Australia’s pre and post-colonial history is in a process of revelation, bringing an enlightened awareness the Australian psyche. The arts is a powerful space to reveal these stories from an Indigenous perspective. This in turn creates opportunities for interaction and opens the door for understanding one conversation at a time. The arts play an important role in societal consciousness. Improving the cultural environment in rehearsal practice, could help lead to greater understanding; opening pathways for the relationships between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians to prosper and move forward together.

Indigenous, Egalitarianism, Mainstream, Theatre, Rehearsals, Identity, Bi-cultural, Self-expression, Healing, Culture
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Focused Discussion

Ms. Kirsty Reilly

Acting/Movement tutor, Acting Department, National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) Australia, Australia
VIC, Australia

KIRSTY REILLY is a performing arts practitioner and educator with over thirty-two years in the industry nationally and internationally as a performing artist, theatre director, choreographer, movement director and theatre-maker. She holds a bachelor of Education, Postgraduate degree (NIDA) and is currently undertaking a PhD in Bi-cultural arts practice at Deakin University, Australia. As a Gloria Payten Fellowship recipient, she has trained and worked with companies and mentors including Theatre de Complicite, Monica Pagneux, Philippe Gaulier,, and Belvoir St theatre Sydney. She also works as an educator and mentor in acting institutions, film and television, training studios, universities, theatre companies, the corporate sector and schools. These include NIDA (National Insitute of Dramatic Art), Melbourne University Australia , The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Deakin University Australia , Actors Centre Australia, Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC), Sydney Theatre Company (and Australian Opera (AO). She is also a facilitator for Indigenous cultural training and learning programs with The Storyteller Australia. She is currently undertaking a PhD at Deakin University researching the alliances between Indigenous and Non-indigenous culture in Mainstream theatre rehearsal processes/practice. She lives in Geelong, Australia with her two biological Ngarrindjeri/Wathaurong children.