Wp/nys/Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company

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Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company is Australia's leading Aboriginal theatre company. It is based in Perth, Western Australia, and was founded in 1993. Yirra Yaakin translates to “Stand Tall” in Noongar. It produces high-quality theatre with the aim to excite and entertain while still educating.

It has its own page on the English Wikipedia project at Wikipedia:Yirra Yaakin.



Key values of Yirra Yaakin are community participation and equity. This is achieved through focusing on staff training and development of Aboriginal arts workers. An aim of the company is to ensure that, through community engagement and a commitment to delivering high quality and culturally significant art, Aboriginal theatre remains under Aboriginal control in a way that continues to create and nurture opportunities for Aboriginal artists at all levels of theatre performance, creation, and production.

The current artistic director is Kyle J Morrison, who in 2013 won the NAIDOC Perth Award for Outstanding Achievement. [1]

Yirra Yaakin works on a number of artistic and community-based projects at one time. In 2017 they developed Boodjar Kaatijin, an educational show targeted at school children, which toured the state, visiting schools and libraries. The show is made up of four stories from the local region, seeking to give the audience an insight into the cultural significance of place. School children were able to go on an adventure with characters Wp/nys/Koorlbardi (Magpie), Wp/nys/Weitj (Emu), Wp/nys/Nyingarn (Echidna), and their koordahs to discover the creation of boodja. [2]

They regularly tour productions so communities in remote areas are able to access and engage just as easily as those in cities. Adding to their educational repertoire, Yirra Yaakin also has developed a number of issue-based works centred around sexual health, trauma, and relationships in conjunction with the Department of Health, Justice and Welfare. [3]

The Noongar Shakespeare Project


birok kedela / ngany kaaditj noonar?
noonang kwopitj wa / djoorap kedela
warra maam-maarrang / baminy boorn djilba
djinang / birok woort koorl / baal ngoorndiny wa [4]

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare

An ongoing project is Yirra Yaakin’s Noongar Shakespeare Project, a programme which is seeking to break down cultural divides and provide dialogue between communities by celebrating languages and histories. [5] It is currently their most high profile, long-term project.

In 2012, Yirra Yaakin presented translated Shakespeare's Sonnets translated into Noongar language at a cultural olympiad which took place in London, United Kingdom. This event was open to the public as an international celebration of William Shakespeare as interpreted by many different languages and cultures from across the world. Through the translation and performance of these sonnets, Yirra Yaakin became the first speakers of an Australian indigenous language onstage at Shakespeare's Globe, a notable achievement. [6]

Following their success at Shakespeare’s Globe, Yirra Yaakin then started to develop a creative and educational programme around the concept of translating the works of Shakespeare into Noongar language. In 2013, Yirra Yaakin gave a presentation of these sonnets at the opening of the Perth International Arts Festival, a notable performance as it brought home to Perth what the company had performed onstage in London to great acclaim. [7] This, just like the rest of the Noongar Shakespeare Project, highlighted an interconnection between histories and languages which span countries and centuries.

Throughout 2015 the company continued to translate sonnets, developing a Noongar language-training programme for Yirra Yaakin artists. [8] This language-training programme was crafted to give Aboriginal arts workers the ability to perform the works of Shakespeare in their own language. During this time they also worked with schools, a theme which continued throughout 2016 with a number of workshops titled Shakespeare’s Sonnets in Noongar Language.

Yirra Yaakin is now working towards one of their most ambitious projects yet, in conjunction with Bell Shakespeare Theatre Company, Australia’s leading Shakespeare theatre company: a full-length translation of Macbeth, to tour and perform in schools. This has an estimated delivery date of early 2019, to premiere at the Perth International Arts Festival. [9]

Recording Stories Project


In an effort to preserve oral tradition and allow for self-curated contribution from all over Noongar country, Yirra Yaakin has launched the Recording Stories Project, funded by the Australian Government’s Office for the Arts Indigenous Culture Support and Creative Development Program. [10] This digital archive had been created to encourage storytelling and creativity from people across Noongar boodjara, and It is project managed by Irma Woods, a theatre practitioner and filmmaker from Minang/Goreng country. In conjunction with this programme, Yirra Yaakin also runs a Writers Programme to foster emerging talent from within the Noongar community.

Writers Group


Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company runs a writers group which allows Noongar writers to workshop their ideas and develop their craft in a supportive, creative setting. The company works with ten writers at a time, working on storytelling and playwriting techniques and providing mentoring programmes for writers emerging from the Noongar community. [11] This intensive programme culminates in a presentation day called Yirra Yaarnz, held in conjunction with the Blue Room Theatre and NAIDOC week, where the writers are given the opportunity to stage dramatic readings of their works to producers, other industry professionals, and the general public. [12] Throughout the programme, the importance of language and cultural transmission are highlighted, encouraging the writers to reflect on their own experiences and identity and channel that into their work.

Kaarla Kaatijin


Kaarla Kaatijin delivers traditional bardip about fire using Noongar knowledge and storytelling in an exciting and engaging way. Through a combination of Noongar dreaming bardip and contemporary Indigenous storytelling, Kaarla Kaatijin explores the importance of re spiritually and practically as well as unpacking what it means to be a strong, centred individual learning about the world. [13]

Education focused, Kaarla Kaatijin covers subjects such as Arts, English, HASS, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Histories & Cultures and Sustainability. [13]

Ngiyan waarnk - References

  1. West Australian Museum - About Yirra Yaakin
  2. Yirra Yaakin - Boodja Kaatijin
  3. - Yirra Yaakin - Our History
  4. Keep our languages alive: Kylie Farmer at TEDxManly
  5. Sonnets in Noongar - The Task
  6. Shakespeare's Sonnets in Aborginal Noongar Language
  7. Perth International Arts Festival brings buzz for 2013 - 8 November 2012
  8. Shakespeare's Sonnets in Noongar - Last accessed 9 November 2017
  9. Overview of the Noongar Shakespeare Project
  10. Recording stories project - Last accessed 9 November 2017
  11. [https://web.archive.org/web/20180205151701/http://yirrayaakin.com.au/our-community/writers-group/ Yirra Yaakin Writers Group
  12. [http://blueroom.org.au/events/yirra-yaarnz-2/ The Blue Room - Yirra Yaarnz
  13. 13.0 13.1 Kaarla Kaatijin