YIRRA Yaakin Theatre Company will complete its trio of Kaatijin plays with the third instalment Boodjar Kaatijin at Subiaco Arts Centre from October 27 to November 5. The series began in 2012 with
Kaarla Kaatijin (meaning ‘to understand fire’ in Noongar), followed by
Kep Kaatijin in 2014 (‘to understand water’) and now Boodjar Kaatijin (‘to understand land’).
Perth actor Amy Smith first performed with the company 12 years ago and the WAAPA-trained mother of two has featured in each Kaatijin production alongside Ian Wilkes, who has transitioned to writer and director for the third.
“I understand the type of play it is, how much physicality there is and how silly it is with fart jokes,” Smith said.
“I love Ian; he’s like my brother, so him directing is sweet and the fact that my kids are a bit older (four and six years) makes it easier to get back into work.”
The play brings to life stories collected from Noongar Elders, including the first sunrise, the creation of Kings Park, how the kangaroo got its colour, how the echidna got its spikes and the creation of Wave Rock.
Smith said it incorporated music, sound effects, slapstick, puppetry, masks and glow-in-the-dark elements.
“It’s about the beginning of Earth, so it starts off in the darkness and then we use a bit of lighting and bring up the other stories,” the 29 year old said.
“This kind of theatre doesn’t see us put on a whole massive costume; we’ll just get one object and turn it into the animal. “It’s sort of like object theatre. “One of the characters I play is a possum and she has these goggles which give her big possum eyes, and then it’s up to me to embody that animal and make it come alive. “I also play a spider.” Smith said the production was best suited to children from kindy to Year 4 but adults were sure to have a laugh too.
Even though the cast humanise the animals with funny voices and characteristics, the 45-minute play is also educational.
“Kids will learn animal facts, where they live or characteristics, and a bit about the ancient Noongar stories,” Smith said.
“Whether you want to believe them or not isn’t the point; it’s just to enjoy it, take it away and think about it.
“So if you go to Wave Rock, you’ll remember the story of how it was made or the story about the echidna and how the big blob of jelly fell into a prickle bush and got its spikes.
“It’s educational and also entertainment because we just want them to laugh; life is pretty crazy and school can be hard and boring, so it’s nice to have entertainment.
“That’s what art is there for; you’ve got to have a laugh every now and then.”
Amy Smith flies the flag for Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.