Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life - Tanya Macnaughton

WAAPA grad­u­ate Simone De­tourbet feels for­tu­nate to be cast in her first Yirra Yaakin Theatre Com­pany pro­duc­tion, Con­ver­sa­tions With The Dead.

“It’s a priv­i­lege to be able to tell some­one’s story and al­low your­self to be im­mersed in it,” De­tourbet said.

“It’s an im­por­tant story to put out there and hope­fully in do­ing that you chal­lenge peo­ple or help them em­pathise.”

On the 50th an­niver­sary of the 1967 ref­er­en­dum to amend the Aus­tralian Con­sti­tu­tion, Con­ver­sa­tions With The Dead ques­tions how far Aus­tralia has come in the treat­ment of Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple in cus­tody since the 1992 Royal Com­mis­sion.

Di­rected by James Tay­lor, the play fo­cuses on young and am­bi­tious Koori man Jack, who was one of the first to in­ves­ti­gate deaths in cus­tody.

“Be­ing sur­rounded by so much death, sad­ness, sor­row and grief takes a big toll on a per­son,” De­tourbet said.

“It’s a hu­man strug­gle piece at the core where a man is strug­gling in his own mind and wrestling with what it is to serve and help other peo­ple.

“Be­ing part of this cast is amaz­ing be­cause I’m learn­ing so much about my own cul­ture as well. I’ve strug­gled with iden­tity be­cause my dad is French and my mum is in­dige­nous.”

The 25-year-old was born in north Queens­land and grew up in Dar­win, where her mum’s side of the fam­ily is from.

She moved to Perth to study Abo­rig­i­nal theatre and screen per­for­mance at WAAPA, where she grad­u­ated in Fe­bru­ary this year.

De­tourbet said her mum, who works in gov­ern­ment with fam­i­lies and chil­dren, had been a great re­source to use while pre­par­ing for the four roles she has in the pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing wife, aun­tie and spirit woman.

“It’s nice to be able to have that con­ver­sa­tion with some­one who un­der­stands gov­ern­ment and what it is to want to serve peo­ple but also take a po­si­tion that may daunt you to do that,” she said.

“I have an amaz­ing sup­port sys­tem and JT (di­rec­tor) gives a lot of cre­ative free­dom.”

Al­though Con­ver­sa­tions With The Dead is a play with songs in English and in­dige­nous lan­guage, De­tourbet said it was not a big mu­si­cal.

“In­dige­nous cul­ture has a lot of song and dance, so music is just part of any­thing we do,” she said.

“It’s not a mu­si­cal in the sense of Wicked where we’re belt­ing out tunes and there isn’t tap danc­ing, but it’s def­i­nitely got songs that res­onate with the jour­ney they’re go­ing through.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d468763

Simone De­tourbet in Yirra Yaakin Theatre Com­pany's new play Con­ver­sa­tions With The Dead.

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