Media releases

YIRRAMBOI to showcase First Nations creatives

17 March 2023

Australia’s premier First Nation’s festival YIRRAMBOI is back, with a program of spectacular performances, innovative commissions and world premieres.

YIRRAMBOI, which means tomorrow in the local languages of the Boonwurrung and Woi-wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nations, will take-over Melbourne (Naarm) from 4 to 14 May, showcasing the talent and diversity of emerging and established First Nations creatives locally, nationally and internationally.

A euphoric celebration of both music and art, YIRRAMBOI brings a diverse array of artists and experiences to Naarm.

YIRRAMBOI unites the work of more than 300 creatives across 170 shows at 40 Melbourne venues and locations. More than 80 per cent of the program will be making its Australian debut.

This year’s Festival will centre around a dedicated event hub, The Uncle Jack Charles – named as a tribute to the late Aboriginal actor, activist and great arts Elder. Located in North Melbourne’s Meat Market, the venue will spotlight the work of First Nations artists – from comedy and cabaret to music and fashion.

Other YIRRAMBOI Festival 2023 program highlights include:

  • Five world premiere commissions – including Alluvium by Stone Motherless Cold, a biopunk drag cabaret show, and MEETRA-Rise Up! The Ballad of James Arden, a powerful piece of theatre led by Gunditjmara/Kokatha singer-songwriter, David Arden.
  • The DJ PGZ Live Experience, which will see Gunai/Kurnai & Yorta Yorta DJ and Producer, DJ PGZ, bring his dark, underground club sound to Melbourne Town Hall’s iconic Grand Organ.
  • A one-night-only extravaganza at the State Theatre with legendary drag performer, Kween Kong.
  • A runway show redefining First Nations Fashion, as part of Tomorrow: The Experience.
  • Bubup’s Fest for children and families, with music and fashion workshops.
  • A unique collaboration with the Dark Mofo festival, connecting with the Palawa people of Tasmania to highlight cross-cultural connections and kinship.

This year’s program also reignites YIRRAMBOI’s international collaborations through a double-bill of dance works by Canadian First Nations choreographers Lara Kramer and Jeanette Kotowitch, alongside local artists Brent Watkins and Jada Narkle.

YIRRAMBOI will announce further details for significant free programming in the coming weeks, including Barring-Yanabul – a citywide ‘blak out’ and the Uncle Archie Roach block party, setting Melbourne’s streets and laneways alight with installations, visual art, music, drag and dance on Saturday 6 May.

YIRRAMBOI Festival thanks its partners including First Peoples: Creative Victoria, VicHealth, Australia Council, Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), Metro Tunnel Arts Program and the Canadian Government.

For the full program and to purchase tickets, visit YIRRAMBOI.

Quotes attributable to YIRRAMBOI co-lead Sherene Stewart

“Journey into a world reimagined. Led through sovereignty, held by the strength of our Elders and pulled forward for the love of our future generations.”

“YIRRAMBOI plays host to a feast of mediums honouring the endurance of First Nations people and voyaging boldly into what is a Blak led future. Curated in celebration of Blak love, joy and excellence with a stellar line up of First Nations creatives.”

“YIRRAMBOI is more than just a festival, it’s a platform for voice, change, development and exchange. A vision of a future where our culture and shared history is respectfully celebrated by all.”

Quotes attributable to Lord Mayor Sally Capp

“Naarm is the creative heart and soul of the nation – and we’re so proud to be celebrating YIRRAMBOI in 2023, with a special tribute to the late Uncle Jack Charles.”

“This year’s festival will feature record participation from our vibrant First Nations community and embrace every corner of our city – filling our iconic streets, laneways and venues with theatre, music, comedy, dance, visual arts and fashion.”

Quotes attributable to Creative Melbourne portfolio lead Jamal Hakim

“From legendary drag performer Kween Kong to the House of Alexander presenting post-apocalyptic swarm realness, to boiler room DJ sets to arts, craft and an indigenous library hosted by Clothing the Gaps – YIRRAMBOI has something for everyone.”

“YIRRAMBOI will connect and entertain, while celebrating the incredible work of our First Nations creatives and forging international connections through art – it will be mesmerizing, eclectic and not to be missed.”

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