Wednesday, July 21, 2010


JUTE Theatre is excited to present Blackbird — a music theatre piece debuting August 20-28 as part of the official programs of the Cairns Festival and Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Thursday 22 July, 2010. Blackbird’s opening night audience will be stunned by its emotional impact, says JUTE Theatre Artistic Director and CEO Suellen Maunder.

Ms Maunder anticipates the song cycle, about six generations of inspirational North Queensland women, will leave, “not a dry eye in the theatre”.

Blackbird is an epic tale told in song by 26-year-old Megan Sarmardin, a talented Indigenous artist whose moving songs are based on the memories of her great grandmother, Flora, 95.

“I watched a run through of the show yesterday…and it is so beautiful — there will not be a dry eye in the theatre.  Megan is so engaging and yet ordinary and real all at the same time.  She has a magnificent voice and stage presence — the audience will just want to wrap her up and take her home!” Ms Maunder says.

Megan's powerful vocals bring to the stage the dramatic history of a proud Aboriginal family that traces its roots to the earliest Russian Czars on one side, and on the other to the ancient Ngadjon-ji tribe that has lived on the Atherton Tablelands since time immemorial.

Blackbird celebrates resilience, courage, humour and family through the stories of six strong female characters.

Flora's mother Kitty fell in love with Russian migrant Leandro Illin. In 1915 they walked from Butcher’s Creek near Malanda to Innisfail to be married, defying the law and both black and white societies. Kitty's mother, Emily, was one of the only Ngadjon-ji elders to remain living around Malanda after the rainforest tribes were taken to settlements. In 1955 and aged 85, Emily was snatched from her country to Palm Island, where she died.

“This is an epic tale, but again very ordinary story about ordinary Australian folks doing extraordinary things, and these stories stretch back to first contact.  The story is not about white and black but about injustice and fighting for your family to stay together.  It’s a story about how love can overcome the mean spirited,” Ms Maunder says.

Blackbird is showing from August 20-28 at JUTE Theatre, North Queensland's leading theatre company. It is part of the Cairns Festival's official program and also an official event of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

JUTE Theatre, 96 Abbot Street, Cairns, Q 4870
20 – 28 August
Tuesday – Wednesday 6.30pm
Thursday – Saturday 8.00pm
Thursday 26 August 11.00am
Adults $30; Conc/QAC Members $27; Groups (5+) $25/ea; Under 25yrs $25; Tuesday $17

Bookings  ticketLiNK
T 1300 855 835 Or book online

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