Australian Theatre Live streams in to the U.S. with international premiere of WHITEFELLA YELLA TREE

Based on the east coast of Australia, not-for-profit arts organisation AUSTRALIAN THEATRE LIVE (ATL) records and distributes Australian live performances.

In a rare and unprecedented opportunity, thanks to generous support from the International Cultural Diplomacy Arts Fund (ICDAF), the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Arts Minister Tony Burke, and the Federal Office of the Arts, ATL made its international debut in November 2023 with screenings of Palawa playwright Dylan Van Den Berg’s award-winning WHITEFELLA YELLA TREE, a Griffin Theatre Company production.

Screenings took place at Australia’s new embassy in Washington and in a prestigious New York cinema, shining an international light on the history of Indigenous Australians and the distressing impact of early colonisation, and showcasing the skills and creativity of our local theatrical artists. Grant Dodwell (Creative Director), Lucy Clements (Producer), and Emma Wright (Producer) will spend a month in Washington, D.C., and New York City, connecting with American audiences, education institutions, and arts professionals, building an exciting new pathway for cultural exchange between Australia and the US, and celebrating the global Premiere of WHITEFELLA YELLA TREE.

“We are thrilled to bring Whitefella Yella Tree to audiences in Washington DC and New York City,” says Grant Dodwell, Creative Director of ATLive. “This play offers a unique perspective on important societal themes and provides an opportunity for audiences worldwide to engage with Australian theatre in a meaningful way.”

Photo by Brett Boardman

Van Den Berg’s WHITEFELLA YELLA TREE, starring Callan Purcell as Ty & Guy Simon as Neddy, co-directed by Griffin’s Artistic Director Declan Greene and Amy Sole, is a story of Blak first love told with a fierce poetic vision and razor-sharp wit. It’s a stunning and educative exploration of young, queer love and Country set in the midst of invasion, presented in August/September 2022 at the SBW Stables Theatre, and later winning the 2023 NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Playwriting. This new Australian play is well-deserving of a permanent position in the international canon.

“First love: voices breaking, words coming out in all the wrong ways, a mess of limbs and too-wet kisses, earnest declarations. Imagine two boys falling for the first time – the giddiness, the joy – in a context without shame. And then imagine that love threatened by invaders wanting to colonise their Country, their bodies, their love. That’s the world of Whitefella Yella Tree,” remarks playwright Van Den Berg. “I’ve written this play in the hope that you might reflect on the rich and real detail of lives that were disrupted when those ships hit the shore. The queer love stories that never got to be written.”

ATL will also be raising awareness of their groundbreaking digital subscription platform, ATL ON DEMAND, which was launched in October 2022 and hosts a growing catalog of the best of Australian theatre, opera and music. Additionally, having now shifted their attention to servicing the education sector through ATL ON DEMAND: EDUCATION, ATL is excited to promote their new education-specific subscription platform (launched in September 2023), which has been carefully designed in consultation with the sector as a tool for educators in primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions working across the fields of Music, Drama, Dance, and Physical Education. As of November, the catalogue includes 26 Australian digital live performances, spanning text-based theatre, physical theatre, opera, and circus. As part of their visit, ATL will share this education tool with American institutions, offering students and educators the opportunity to engage with Australian performance content.

Click here to visit the Australian Theatre Live website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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