Stories the back bone of the Indigenous Community: Jason Tamiru and Blak Cabaret

Aussie Theatre’s Dione Joseph recently enjoyed a conversation/story swap session with Yorta Yorta man Jason Tamiru.

Jason Tamiru
Jason Tamiru

Stories are the backbone of the Indigenous community so any conversation doesn’t just involve two people talking, but two people swapping stories. In a conversation/story swap session with Aussie Theatre’s Dione Joseph, Jason Tamiru shared some of his thoughts on the latest work he’s producing: Blak Cabaret.

“So the story goes something like this,” begins Tamiru, “I’m a Yorta Yorta man, a traditional owner and I’ve been working in the performing arts for a mighty long time. I’ve seen a fantastic blend of performers here in this state and over the past 5-10 years they’ve come from all around the country. Now they’ve done a fab job and I’m proud of them but my question is: What has that done for our Victorian identity? From a young person’s point-of-view who do they want to get influenced by, who are their role models and how do they know what is the Victorian Aboriginal identity?”

That motivation and the realization that Victorian Indigenous peoples were being under represented in the performing arts landscape has propelled Tamiru to take responsibility and start making some changes.

Last year at the inaugural Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival Tamiru was in charge of the festival hub and made the executive decision to turn into a cabaret venue.

“I wanted this to be a place where people could enjoy a blend of comedy, music, traditional and contemporary dance and, most importantly, come and see a snapshot of Victorian Indigenous performing artists.”

Jida Gulpilil in Blak Cabaret
Jida Gulpilil in Blak Cabaret

From there it was only natural that Tamiru brought together some of the best known names in the industry for a night of community brilliance he called Blak Cabaret, with national treasure Uncle Jack Charles as MC.

“I’m a passionate community member,” says Tamiru, “And we’re all about taking the best of local Victorian Aboriginal performance out to the communities. This Saturday (9 March) we’re performing [Blak Cabaret] at the Rumbalara Football/ Netball club as part of the Shepparton Festival and the following week in Castlemaine as part of the State Festival.”

The Shepparton evening includes a stellar line-up of performers including Shiralee Hood, Kevin Kropinyeri, Uncle Herb Patten, Jimi Peters and Lowana Wickham; while the Castemaine event includes Dave Arden, Illana Atkinson, Liz Cavanagh and Kutcha Edwards.

Tamiru has high hopes for Blak Cabaret and the team are looking forward to developing the show with every confidence that it is only going to get bigger and better.

“Cabaret is essentially quite a creative art form and this is a project that is going to grow into something really special,” says Tamiru.

“Most importantly we’re open to anyone in the performing arts in Victoria who believes in their community and the principles that go along with that. They’ve definitely got a spot in Blak Cabaret because if we’re not about the community, then what’s the point?”

Blak Cabaret Presented by Malthouse Theatre

Shepparton Festival – Saturday 9 March 7:30pm – Tickets at the door

Castlemaine State Festival – Saturday 16 March 8pm – Book online

One thought on “Stories the back bone of the Indigenous Community: Jason Tamiru and Blak Cabaret

  • Hello Jason,
    Your interviews and articles are very interesting Sadly,I have not been to Blak Cabaret.
    I have written a verse story “Dreaming Disappearing” about Picnic at Hanging Rock/Ngannalang.
    I would like to quote your impressive blog article – Dja Dja Wurrung, Yung Balug Mob – as a reference, along with Joan Lindsay’s novel.
    I have a family connection to Hanging Rock – to both the cafe owner and the Ranger, and have visited many times, so feel quite attached to that ancient volcano
    Here in Canberra we went to the centenary celebration of the publication of the novel, held at the National Library.
    My short story ( I had a fixation on rhymes at the time!) is eight pages long. I started it really for my granddaughter Ruby. i was wondering if I could be so bold as to email it to you for your comment on the Ngannalan half.
    All the best,


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