Moulin Rouge! The Musical
The Westerman Jilya Institute and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company
In solidarity with Indigenous people, Global Creatures, the producers of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, dedicated its evening performance last 26 January to highlighting the work of two Aboriginal community controlled organisations: The Westerman Jilya Institute and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. The producers and the show’s production partners will donate profits from the performance to these two organisations who each make a tangible and meaningful difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids, families and communities by improving mental health outcomes and maintaining and strengthening cultural connections.
This special performance will conclude with Kungarakan Warramungu woman Merinda Dickson, Chief Operating Officer of The Westerman Jilya Institute; Nyaki-Nyaki Maaman, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Maitland Schnaars and Wadjuk woman, Yirra Yaakin Associate Director Bobbi Henry joining the show’s producer, Carmen Pavlovic and the cast on stage to raise awareness of the work they do.
The Westerman Jilya Institute for Indigenous Mental Health Aboriginal Corporation was founded in December 2019 by Nyamal woman, Dr Tracy Westerman AM, who has worked for two decades to reduce the burden of mental illness and suicide in Aboriginal communities. The Westerman Jilya Institute delivers support and mentoring to a network of Indigenous psychology students throughout Australia to support improved access to mental health services nationally that are both clinically and culturally appropriate, and which provide measurable outcomes for high-risk communities.
Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company develops contemporary Aboriginal productions with positive cultural messages to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and audiences regionally, nationally and internationally. Yirra Yaakin also offers a program of activities and events that encourage self-determination for Aboriginal people with the aim to empower Australia’s First Peoples, preserve their culture, and provide enlightenment to non-Indigenous people regarding Aboriginal culture and history.
There was considerable discussion within the Moulin Rouge! The Musical company about whether to perform on 26 January – a day that is traumatic and painful for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Moulin Rouge! The Musical decided to go ahead and use the show’s platform to make an economic contribution, raise awareness of the human rights issues still facing many Indigenous people and to celebrate the love and support these two Aboriginal community controlled organisations bring to so many Indigenous lives.
Producer of Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Carmen Pavlovic says: “Earlier this year the company accepted the invitation of the Uluru Statement of the Heart and declared our support for enshrining an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution. Irrespective of the outcome on October 14th, our commitment to supporting Aboriginal people does not stop after the referendum. We continue to walk with Indigenous people and to support reconciliation in this country. We felt very strongly about that. We are honoured to partner with two important and greatly respected organisations, The Westerman Jilya Institute and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, who are doing invaluable work for Aboriginal people and communities.”
Merinda Dickson says: “At Jilya, we do not celebrate Australia Day. Instead, we observe it as a day of mourning, and we advocate for change. While changing the date may not magically undo all of the historical impact, nor prevent the continued injustices for our Aboriginal Australians, it does demonstrate a willingness to acknowledge and value all the pain and suffering, and without this we cannot heal. We are so pleased to be joined by allies such as Global Creatures who walk with us on the path to healing.”
Maitland Schnaars, Yirra Yaakin Birdiya says: “This generous gesture from the producers, Global Creatures, The Regent Theatre, Ticketek and the whole team behind Moulin Rouge! The Musical is everything that is moorditj (good/strong) about the theatre moort (family). We all know that the invitation from the Uluru Statement of the Heart is still open. As Aboriginal people and theatre makers we are reminded that we never walk alone, and that the future is much brighter than the past. Only the arts can make society look at itself and think, reflect, and change for the better.”
Moulin Rouge! The Musical and Global Creatures thanks its production partners: The Regent Theatre, Ticketek, ACMN, Antix Management, Justin Sparrow Accounting, KLR Consulting, Martin Production, The Peach & Pineapple Co., Production Resource Group, Simple Motion and Theatre Safe Australia for also donating to The Westerman Jilya Institute and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical will close its acclaimed Australian run on Sunday February 4 2024.