image004.gif
Reviews/Perth Festival/Theatre

Retelling stories to rekindle the fire

23 February 2021

Journeying through time and space, Galup, by Ian Wilkes and Poppy van Oorde-Grainger, takes audiences on a walking tour that reclaims Noongar history, writes Kobi Morrison.

Galup, Ian Wilkes and Poppy van Oorde-Grainger, with Doolann Leisha Eatts ·
Lake Monger Reserve, 18 February 2021 ·

Nidja kep wer boodja kwerl galup
This water and land is titled “place of fire

Stepping into the gorgeous place known as Galup (Lake Monger Reserve) on Thursday evening, I find myself transported back in time almost 200 years, to a period of both beauty and conflict. An immersive walking tour presented as part of Perth Festival, Galup enables its audience to inhabit the true stories that have taken place on Wadjuk Lands, stories of the Noongar/Wadjela (white) relationship that, like many others, consist of tensions and contrasting intentions.

Outside of the Noongar community, these events are often little-known and/or told from a Wadjela perspective. These stories, too, contain a wide range of emotions which have been beautifully portrayed in Galup by Noongar performer/writer Ian Wilkes and writer/director/producer Poppy van Oorde-Grainger.

Koorliny bidi-k koora
Moving along a path to the past

Upon arrival we are presented with a cosy circle of picnic blankets as we wait for the Birdiya (boss), Wilkes, to greet us. On Thursday night, the audience is comprised of just 15 people which makes for a comfortable, uncluttered journey. Wilkes brings a sense of gentle leadership that is reminiscent of the lake’s original leaders. As the group walks in single file over a footbridge that leads to the lake, this public amenity – designed for everyday use – seems to be transformed into a monument of ceremony that marks the beginning of this journey. Arriving beside the lake the group is submerged in smoke, in keeping with Noongar tradition for arriving visitors.

Mayakowa-k nyinalanginy ba kaditj
Echos of meetings and minds

As we journey through the storyline, Galup allows us time to contemplate and admire the world around us. Leading the way, Wilkes takes on the personas of multiple people from this area’s local history, including Yagan, a Noongar leader who resisted the European settling of Noongar land, and Robert Dale, an early settler in the Swan River Colony who was involved in hostile confrontations at Galup/Lake Monger and, after Yagan’s death, took his head to England. Wilkes’ ability to switch seamlessly between a variety of characters is notable, in particular the stark contrast between his gentle guidance and the hard-lined leadership of Yagan and Dale. These characters draw the audience into the past, and gives us insight into the multiple histories of the local area, revealing the tensions of relations between the Noongar and Wadjela communities that have not been widely acknowledged or discussed.

Nidja kaarla bandang bina-k
The fire is continuously alight

We finish our walk at another circle of picnic blankets, this time surrounding a camp fire on the bank of the lake, a kwobidak (beautiful) physical representation of the word “galup”, which means “the place of fires”. The audience sits in a circle and listens to Noongar elder Doolann Leisha Eatts tell her own story, followed by a Q&A with Wilkes and the talented van Oorde-Grainger. It is through this discussion that the audience can fully appreciate the sheer amount of research that had been done in order to create this brilliant and evocative work.

Galup is moving and transporting; an intercultural, collaborative retelling of history, that holds a powerful reminder of how the Noongar spiritual fire can remain alight.

Galup continues until 13 March 2021.

Pictured top is Ian Wilkes, leading a group through ‘Galup’. Photo: Daniel Grant

This article was amended February 25, to correct the spelling of Doolann Leisha Eatts’ name, and the name and details of William Leeder to Robert Dale.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Kobi Arthur Morrison

Emerging writer Kobi Arthur Morrison is a Bibbulmun Noongar born and raised in Perth. Kobi works at the UWA Centre of Social Impact and Propel Youth Arts WA and spends his spare time participating in music projects such as Moombaki, Koondarm, Koorlong, Madjitil Moorna and Endeavourous. In 2018 he was awarded the Perth NAIDOC Youth of the Year award. He loves playgrounds that are integrated into nature, particularly the tree house.

Past Articles

Read Next

  • MC_Freakley_For You, Danielle Freakley, detail: For You, 2019-2022. Volcanic rock, water clear polyurethane, ink. Dimensions variable. Danielle Freakley's 'For You' looks like a crashing wave made of glass. Danielle Freakley peels back the layers
    Reviews

    Danielle Freakley peels back the layers

    18 May 2022

    A local artist with an international reputation, Danielle Freakley seems driven by a desire to find out what we really want to say to each other. And ahead of her exhibition at Moore Contemporary, she tells Nina Levy what she really wants to say.

    Reading time • 10 minutesVisual Art
  • Reading time • 5 minutesMusic
  • Barney McAll WAAPA Jazz in the Theatre series. A bearded man at the piano looks toward fellow musicians who are playing a keyboard and harp. WAAPA serves up a slice of NYC jazz
    Reviews

    WAAPA serves up a slice of NYC jazz

    9 May 2022

    In a retrospective performance, jazz virtuoso Barney McAll draws on the traditions of his genre while pointing the way to the future, writes Garry Lee

    Reading time • 5 minutesMusic

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio