Frances Rings’ first work as Artistic Director is a ceremonial affirmation of history and heritage. Yuldea awakens the earth and sky worlds to tell the story of the Anangu people of the Great Victorian Desert.
Yuldea explores the moment traditional life collided with the industrial ambition of a growing nation. In 1917, the two halves of the Transcontinental Railway met at the precious water soak on the edge of the Nullarbor, Yuldi Kapi.
Great metal serpents scarred the landscape, draining all water from the sacred soak. Then came the black mist of the atomic testing at Maralinga, forcing the Anangu people to leave their desert homelands where they had lived for millennia.
Now memories lay scattered, like the Anangu people, displaced from their home. Remnants of colonial progress are swallowed by sand. But the Anangu endure, determined to keep strong their knowledge systems of land and sky, honouring their eternal bonds of kinship between people and place.
Yuldea features original music by Leon Rodgers with featured songs by multi-award-winning electronic pop duo Electric Fields (Zaachariaha Fielding and Michael Ross). Designers Elizabeth Gadsby (Set), Jennifer Irwin (Costume) and Karen Norris (Lighting) create a desert world on stage.
Sections of Yuldea
ACT 1 – SUPERNOVA
Anangu clans observe the night sky, a ritual passed on from ancestors before. Through the cycle of creation and destruction, sky lore has provided the knowledge necessary to sustain life in the harsh desert environment. The death of a star, a supernova, foretells the arrival of change...
Cast: Ryan Pearson, Kiarn Doyle, Kassidy Waters, Emily Flannery, Maddison Paluch, Jesse Murray, Janaya Lamb, Rikki Mason, Lillian Banks, Courtney Radford, Bradley
Smith, Daniel Mateo, Chantelle Lee Lockhart, James Boyd, Amberlilly Gordon, Lucy May
ACT 2 – KAPI (WATER)
Water, the source of all life, is also home to supernatural beings whose dynamic journeys created all the features of the landscape and provided the foundation for
Anangu lore. Severe drought forces people to travel long distances through living landscapes until they reach Yuldea Kapi piti, the only source of permanent water. Along the way, they rely on water-finders and different water supplies. From birds and dingoes to the water-holding roots of the mallee tree.
Cast: Lillian Banks, Kallum Goolagong
Water Diviners: Birds
Cast: Courtney Radford, Emily Flannery, Maddison Paluch, Janaya Lamb, Chantelle Lee Lockhart
Water Diviners: Dingoes
Cast: Rikki Mason, Bradley Smith, Kiarn Doyle, Jesse Murray, James Boyd
Cast: Daniel Mateo, Kassidy Waters
Cast: Full ensemble
ACT 3 – EMPIRE
In 1836 King William IV issues the new colony a Letters Patent to proclaim a guarantee of the rights of ‘any Aboriginal natives’ or their descendants to lands they ‘now actually occupied or enjoyed’.
Cast: Rikki Mason, Janaya Lamb, Jesse Murray, Amberlilly Gordon, Lucy May, Ryan Pearson, Kiarn Doyle
In 1912, construction begins on the Trans-Australian Railway. Starting simultaneously at Port Augusta (SA) and Kalgoorlie (WA), the railway is finally completed in 1917 at the sacred site of Ooldea Soak on the edge of the Nullarbor. Within 20 years of the arrival of the great metal serpents, all the water from Yooldil Kapi had been exploited, and the soak is dry.
Cast: Daniel Mateo, Bradley Smith, Lillian Banks, Chantelle Lee Lockhart, Emily Flannery, Kallum Goolagong, Maddison Paluch, Kassidy Waters
The An–angu sustain a life on the fringes of the railway line, trading artefacts to train passengers and receiving rations. The railway brings alcohol, disease and dependency. In 1933, The United Aborigines Mission establishes a reserve to accommodate to the needs and care of An–angu children. As bush life starts to ebb away, Christianity impacts on the traditional life of the Anangu.
Cast: Ryan Pearson, Kiarn Doyle, James Boyd, Amberlilly Gordon, Janaya Lamb, Courtney Radford
In 1956, the Australian Government begins atomic testing at the site known as Maralinga. The devastating consequences to traditional lands and people leave a trail of destruction that echoes through the generations. Then comes the black mist of the atomic testing, forcing the Anangu to leave their desert homelands where they had
lived for millennia. Broken, the families and clans are separated and sent to missions north, south, east and west.
Cast: Rikki Mason, Jesse Murray, Bradley Smith, Emily Flannery, Lucy May
ACT 4 – OOLDEA SPIRIT
Despite the impacts of Colonisation, kinship ties endure from people to family, family to country and land to sky. Overhead, reflected in the Kapi is the constellation, a divine Songline linking earth and sky and an eternal remembrance of customs, lore and celestial story systems. Elders who carry the memories of Yuldea pass them down through the lineage, ensuring the spirit of Yuldea is remembered.
Cast: Full ensemble
Yuldea premiered in 2023