Praying Mantis Dreaming

The early days: a yarn with Uncle Robin Bryant

  • Music, Stories, Highlights, Behind the Scenes

In this personal reflection, Uncle Robin Bryant (Bangarra's General Manager 1991-94) speaks of his time with Bangarra and the significance of the production Praying Mantis Dreaming. Uncle Robin shares the crucial footing he helped establish through developing stronger organisational principles. This, in turn, strengthened the many different components of the company, from production quality to artistic practice and audience reach. This audio recording also features music from Praying Mantis Dreaming by David Page with Guest Musician La-Donna Hollingsworth.

I’ll tell you a story about Praying Mantis Dreaming.

What was being developed at this time was a relationship between performers, production and administration. Performers had their responsibilities, production had their responsibility and the administration had their responsibility.

Praying Mantis Dreaming then came about.

So the Parade Theatre then, at ah… Anzac Parade, Uni of New South Wales.

'92 Bangarra Dance Theatre participated, right, in the Invasion Day out at La Peruse, right, the concert on the 26th and it was called Invasion Day on that day, right. The next year, then that’s when they called it Survival Day, right, but Invasion Day, right, Bangarra performed out at La Perouse. So that was January. June, I think it was . . . I’m lookin’ there ... yes, June ... right - production of Praying Mantis Dreaming.

And that, so at the Parade Theatre then, right, I had, ah, my Mum came down - she was one of those ladies who liked big shows and that, like 42ndStreet and all of them big shows, right. So here she came down from ah … Coffs Harbour, Sawtell, and when she seen, you know, the whole production, right, when she seen all these Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders dancers on stage and the music and the lighting, and the ... you know ... she was overwhelmed, right - so proud of all these, ah, young people on stage; she was so proud of all the music and the choreography. Yes, she was proud of her son. She saw what she was probably wanting to see - that it did happen.

That night, it was a buzz! Aboriginal people, right … and non Aboriginal people. This was coming to a fruition of a … ah … Praying Mantis Dreaming, where you that relationship between your performers, your production and your administration. And it was put out there - done right. I was so proud myself, because, as well, that’s, that's the Performing Arts, you know? Came about through a lot of hard work, with Stephen (Page) coming on, right? and ah ... doing Praying Mantis Dreaming, you know.

So … Praying Mantis Dreaming is special to me because ... to me it showed what the performing arts was about - see, 'cause I came in, out of the cold, I just happened to be that person in that place at that time. Maybe the old, ah, stars lined up that time.

So that was ’92 … Mum passed away then in … ah … 93 - July - and ah ... but she saw ... Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performing art was really something special. So in that way, you know, Praying Mantis Dreaming to me was ... was ah, was great.