Performing Lines WA
By Mararo Wangai
A Perth Festival Commission
A stirring deliberation on the choices we make and how they shape our lives, Black Brass is a theatrical feast; playful yet mysterious. Written and performed by Mararo Wangai, joined live onstage by musician Mahamudo Selimane, this intimate and soulful experience celebrates stories of resilience – private victories rather than public actions.
Arriving to clean a music studio late at night, Sleeper encounters a stranger who speaks only in music. The man is fascinating and oddly familiar. Slowly the pair are drawn into each other’s orbit, as each man tries to reconcile a past that refuses to let go and a present that is unwilling to accept. Through flashback narrative and music, moments of darkness are tempered by soulful songs as the pair hurtles towards a pivotal decision that must be made come sunrise.
Black Brass draws inspiration from interviews conducted with Perth’s Zimbabwean, Sudanese, South African, Central Congo, Mauritius, Nigerian, Congolese and Kenyan communities on the theme of resilience. Through its story it gives voice to the marginalised, offering a window into the lives and voices not often heard in the theatre.
Writer & PerformerMararo WangaiDirectorMatt EdgertonDramaturgsAfeif Ismail & Matt EdgertonScript EditorsMatt Edgerton & Sisonke MismangMusician & ComposerMahamudo SelimaneSet & Costume DesignerZoë AtkinsonLighting DesignerLucy BirkinshawSound DesignerTim CollinsProduction ManagerBen NelsonStage ManagerRose LigginsCommunity Engagement CoordinatorImara MandredProduced byPerforming Lines WAConcept by Mararo WangaiScript developed with support from Afeif Ismail, Matt Edgerton and Sisonke Mismang
Mararo Wangai – Writer & Performer
Mararo Wangai is a Kenyan-born writer, performer and media graduate, with a passionate interest in diverse forms of storytelling. His work strives to avoid simplistic narratives, assess society critically and tries to remain adaptive, organic and alive through its development, until the eventual encounter with an audience. He is attracted to stories that deal with the struggles of humanity, and creating work that not only tests his craft both in writing and performance but work that pushes him and his audience away from comfort zones, expectations and the mundane, into the unforgiving unknown where we might both learn deeper lessons for the next chapter.
His recent works include The Advisors and Improvement Club (The Last Great Hunt), Unsung Heroes (Black Swan State Theatre Company). Mararo was nominated twice for Best Supporting Male Actor for The Advisors, 2017 performing Arts WA Awards and Improvement Club, 2018 performing Arts WA Awards.
Matt Edgerton – Director, Co-Dramaturg & Script Editor
Matt is an Australian theatre director with a diverse body of work including contemporary and classical shows across a range of forms, styles and scales, cross-cultural collaborations, work for audiences of all ages and theatre projects promoting social development. For Perth Festival Matt was the director/dramaturg of the AWGIE award-winning A Ghost In My Suitcase and co-director of the Helpmann Award-nominated Lé Nør [the rain]. Matt’s work has toured widely and won some stuff including Glug, Helpmann and AWGIE awards. Most recently, Matt won Best Direction of a Mainstage Production at the 2019 PAWA Awards for Fully Sikh. Matt has previously held positions as Artistic Director of Barking Gecko Theatre and Resident Artist at Bell Shakespeare. He is a Churchill Fellow and proud member of actors equity.
Afeif Ismail – Co-Dramaturg
Afeif Ismail is an internationally published poet and playwright from Sudan whose works have been translated into German, Spanish and Swedish. He has published eight books of poetry and short stories in Arabic, and seven books in English. His work has been recognised nationally through winning awards and nominations including winning the Naji Naaman’s Literary Prize 2015, 3 Seeds (3 short plays) presented by Always Working Artists at the Blue Room Theatre, and The African Magician nominated for the Australian Writer’s Guild Award for Best Children’s Play in 2011. In 2014, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington selected Afeif to be one of six International Playwriting Observers at New Visions/New Voices Festival of Works in Progress for Young Audiences. In 2018 Afeif was invited as a guest speaker to the ASSITJE/ATINA 5th International Theatre for Young Audiences Critics and Researchers Forum in Buenos Aires. Afeif's children play Son of the Nile was shortlisted for The ASSITEJ African Playwriting Competition in 2019.
Sisonke Msimang – Script Editor
Sisonke Msimang is the author of Always Another Country: A memoir of exile and home. She is a South African writer whose work is focussed on race, gender and democracy. She has written for a range of international publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Newsweek and Al Jazeera.
Mahamudo Selimane – Musician & Composer
Mahamudo Selimane is a musician, singer, songwriter and composer from Mozambique who migrated to Australia in 2004. A member of many bands within and beyond Perth, Mahamudo has performed and toured in festivals around Europe, Africa and Australia, including Perth International Arts Festival in 2002 with his band Eyuphuro, his first visit down under. Black Brass is Mahamudo’s first theatre production as a performer.
Zoë Atkinson – Set and Costume Designer
Zoë Atkinson studied Scenography at The Prague Academy of The Performing Arts, The International Institute of Figurative Theatre (Czech Republic), and at the Institute International de la Marionette in France, under Josef Svoboda. Since returning to Australia in 1997 she has designed for theatre, dance, puppetry, opera and museums. Her most recent works include Cloudstreet and The Return (Malthouse Theatre), Perth International Arts Festival’s Museum of Water with English artist Amy Sharrocks, A Ghost in My Suitcase (Barking Gecko Theatre), Xenides: the Musical, The Cherry Orchard and York (Black Swan State Theatre Company), Hecate (Yirra Yaakin Theatre). Zoë was Artistic Associate and Designer for Perth Festival's 2017 opening event Booma Waanginy which was presented again in 2019.
Lucy Birkinshaw – Lighting Designer
Lucy Birkinshaw is a lighting designer and artist whose work spans theatre, musical theatre, concerts, opera, dance, film and television. She graduated from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts with an Advanced Diploma of Lighting Design for Production and Performance and Curtin University with a Bachelor of Art, Fine Arts. Lucy has designed lighting for Black Swan State Theatre Company, Perth Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Barking Gecko Theatre, WAYTCO, Melbourne Opera, Lyric Opera Melbourne, St Martin's Youth, Side Pony Productions, Hayloft Project, Perth Festival, Opera in the Park, Australian Opera Studio and many others.
Tim Collins – Sound Designer
Tim Collins is a sound designer, composer, musician, technician and tour manager. He has worked in the entertainment industry since 2001 involved in performance and logistics for theatre, festivals, concert and studio production, musical theatre and live broadcast. Tim has been a mentor at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts since 2006. His show credits include Fearless, Xenides, Fully Sikh (Sound Design/Composer & Technician), Boundary Street, Next To Normal, Clinton The Musical, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Let The Right One In, Our Town, The Torrents, Cloudstreet, The Rabbits, A Ghost In My Suitcase and My Robot.
Ben Nelson – Production Manager
Ben Nelson is a professional production manager and audio operator with eight years' experience in the theatre industry. He began his career mixing bands in Albany (WA) before joining the Albany Entertainment Centre as acting Head of Audio (2014 – 18), where he expanded his skills working with various touring productions. In 2018 he relocated to Perth and has since worked in diverse roles for various companies including Perth Theatre Trust, WA Ballet, Crown Theatre, Tura New Music, Perth Festival, Sensorium Theatre, Maybe ( ) Together and Performing Lines WA. Since March 2019, Ben has been Production Managing Performing Lines WA’s works including Whoosh!, Layla Majnun, PLWA Creative Hub and ongoing creative developments.
Rose Liggins – Stage Manager
Born in the UK, Rose Liggins graduated from the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David in 2014 with a First Class Honours degree in Theatre Design and Production, specialising in Stage Management. Since graduating she has worked in numerous theatres around the UK, most notably for two summer repertory seasons at Theatre By The Lake, Keswick in 2015 and 2016. After taking some time out to travel, Rose and her partner moved to Perth in 2018. Since then, she has worked with West Australian Ballet on several of their productions, and as a Stage Manager with The Last Great Hunt.
Imara Mandred – Community Engagement Consultant
Imara Mandred is a passionate and dedicated cultural advocate, change maker, mentor, community shaker and storyteller. This has led her into purpose-driven work across a diverse breadth of the youth and community sector since 2012. Imara is a young first/ninth generation mixed raced African-Australian, with ancestral roots connections in Zanzibar, France and England.
She has joined Performing Lines WA as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the 2021 premiere of Black Brass, to highlight and celebrate the richness of this inspiring production, as well as the many sub-Saharan African cultures, countries and creative entrepreneurs present within different Perth communities.
Performing Lines WA
Performing Lines WA produces transformative contemporary performance by Western Australia’s most audacious independent artists. As the West Australian office of national organization, Performing Lines, we curate a portfolio of works that are propelled by pressing questions and new ways of seeing the world.
Our purpose is to champion risk and to ensure the breadth and plurality of Western Australia’s identity, culture and creative potential is represented, celebrated and enjoyed. We support independent artists to create, present and tour innovative & relevant contemporary Australian performance locally, nationally and internationally.
Special thanks to Delen (France and Republic of Congo), Hamed (Sudan), Hardy (Mauritius), Irene (Democratic Republic of Congo), Jamal (Sudan), Kuda (Zimbabwe), Mulwa (Kenya), Daudi (Kenya), Rana (Sudan), Richard (Nigeria), Shingie (Zimbabwe), Shola (South Africa), Shoshi (South Africa), Shubert (France and West Indies), Kizito (Kenya), Mahamudo (Mozambique) whose stories provided the inspiration for Black Brass.
Special thanks also to Performing Lines WA for nurturing and caring for the idea from its infancy through to its presentation. A very trusting and ambitious team to work with which is the perfect nest for a creative. This would definitely not have been possible without them.
Thank you to the Centre for Stories for advising, not only on how to source interviewees but on how to create a respectful and comfortable environment to allow them to share.
Thank you to Fremantle Arts Centre for hosting the creative team in the idyllic surrounds of Fremantle and providing a space to test the material on the floor in its crucial early stages.
Thank you to Subiaco Arts Centre for hosting the creative team and providing facilities to put on a moved showing that led to the festival.
Thank you to Perth Festival Lab for connecting me with artists in such proximity that one is reminded that they are flesh and bone as I am, which planted the seed to create a work that is ambitious and pushing towards new territory.
Thank you to the Office of Multicultural Interests for the advice and for pointing me in the right direction.
Thank you to The Blue Room Theatre for the advice and for providing space for talents established and upcoming to inspire each other.
Thank you to the Department of Local Government, Sports and Cultural Industries for trusting the project and team enough to allow us to put it up.
Thank you to Sisonke Mismang for her input and valuable feedback.
|Time & Location||
Thu 4 – Sun 7 Mar
Thu & Fri 7.30pm | Sat & Sun 2.30 & 7.30pm
Eligible for package discount
Performed in English with songs in Swahili, Lingala and French
Latecomers not admitted.
Post show Q&A
Fri 5 Mar
Stay in your seats after the performance to hear from creators and artists in a Q&A session.
|STAY COVID SAFE||
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Discover more about the show and its creation in the event program. Download it here.
- A Performing Lines WA production. Black Brass creative development was supported by the WA Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Lotterywest and Fremantle Arts Centre.
- The world premiere of the work was co-commissioned and presented by Perth Festival.
- Christophe Canato