The Cake Man program

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The Cake Man


Belvoir and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company present

The Cake Man By ROBERT J. MERRITT Director KYLE J. MORRISON This production of The Cake Man opened at Belvoir St Theatre on Saturday 16 November 2013. Set & Costume Designer STEPHEN CURTIS Lighting Designer JENNY VILA Composer & Sound Designer WAYNE FREER Stage Manager SUE WILKES With Sweet William LUKE CARROLL Civilian / Mr Peterson OSCAR REDDING Priest / Mission Inspector GEORGE SHEVTSOV Pumpkinhead JAMES SLEE Soldier / Mission Manager TIM SOLLY Ruby IRMA WOODS

We would like to show our respect and acknowledge the Traditional owners of the land we gather on today: the Gadigal tribe of the Eora Nation. We pay respect to their Ancestors and Elders past, present and future, and to any Elders that may be with us here today. Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander patrons are warned that this program contains an image of a deceased person.

Thank you Neil Merritt and the Merritt family; Ricky Morgan. PHOTOGRAPHY Ashley de Prazer DESIGN Alphabet Studio


Director’s Note Kyle J. Morrison A few years ago Yirra Yaakin made a commitment to produce classic Aboriginal theatre. To explore our history as not only Aboriginal people but as theatre-makers, to look back at where Aboriginal theatre started, so when we look forward we know where we have come from. There are not too many plays from the Aboriginal theatre canon that are more deserving of a classic label than The Cake Man. The Cake Man is set in a very interesting time in our shared history. A sort of limbo time for Aboriginal people where citizenship was achieved but the Australian dream was still light years away. For Aboriginal people in the 1970s, all things were possible and dreams could be pursued. But the probability of actually achieving those dreams in the prescribed and paternally dominated white world was still very small. It has been a great experience

working on this production with the fantastic team that we have assembled. Working together to give new life to this classic text has been very rewarding. This is Yirra Yaakin’s first national coproduction and we are very excited to be partnering with Belvoir to bring this classic piece of Australian theatre back to Sydney, back to where it all began and where Aboriginal theatre first took flight. I would like to thank Ralph Myers (Artistic Director) and Tahni Froudist (Associate Producer) and the team at Belvoir for giving us the opportunity to work with them, the team at the State Theatre Centre of WA for assisting in presenting the play at Perth’s premier theatre centre, the Board and staff of Yirra Yaakin for their incredible support, and finally the amazing artists and creative team for giving their energy, thoughts and emotions to help realise this interesting and, at times, challenging text.

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company Yirra Yaakin (Yir-raarh Yaarh-kin) which means “Stand Tall” in Noongar language, is Australia’s largest Aboriginal theatre company producing award-winning, worldclass theatre that is exciting, entertaining, educational, authentic and culturally appropriate. Established in 1993, the Year of Indigenous People, as Yirra Yaakin Noongar Theatre, we started off with one successful funding application, three staff members and the desire to provide the Aboriginal community with an artistic outlet for positive selfdetermination. More than 20 years later, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, with a combined board and staff of 19, has

evolved into a respected cultural leader and artistic hub for Aboriginal people from all over Western Australia, Australia, and indeed, around the world. Our stories have reached 13 countries in five continents and we have won awards for our theatre, governance and our partnerships, including a prestigious Sidney Myer Award for our record of facilitating Indigenous artistic programs. The company has commissioned and premiered over 50 new theatre works. These include major Festival presentations such as Waltzing the Wilarra, One day in 67, Aliwah, Windmill Baby and Cruel Wild Woman. Prominent


Aboriginal writers have included Dallas Winmar, Mitch Torres, David Milroy, Sally Morgan and Derek Nannup, amongst many others who have contributed to the Yirra Yaakin experience. Yirra Yaakin is proud to have produced a body of work unequalled in innovation, excellence and cultural significance. However, it’s not just our professional performance program that has won us awards and critical acclaim. Yirra Yaakin has always had a broad education and community engagement program with a development base to ensure we continue

to have Indigenous trainees working within the Australian theatre industry. Yirra Yaakin’s priority is to ensure Aboriginal theatre remains under Aboriginal control and keeps providing opportunities for Aboriginal artists at all levels of theatre creation and production. yirrayaakin.com.au

The Balnaves Foundation Supporting The Cake Man The Balnaves Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation that was established in 2006 by Neil Balnaves AO to provide support to charitable enterprises across Australia. It supports eligible organisations that aim to create a better Australia through education, medicine and the arts with a focus on young people, the disadvantaged and Indigenous communities. The Balnaves Foundation has been funding Belvoir’s Indigenous theatre program since 2011. Each year the Foundation provides the financial underpinning for Belvoir to present two Indigenous works. A range of access programs is attached to the productions, including an unwaged performance and schools matinees. Showing its commitment to Indigenous work at Belvoir, The Balnaves Foundation has supported our productions of Jack Charles vs The Crown, Windmill Baby, Beautiful One Day, Don’t Take Your Love to Town, The Cake Man and Coranderrk.

In 2014 the Foundation will support Brothers Wreck and 20 Questions. In addition, 2014 will represent the third year of the annual Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award – a $20,000 award comprising $7,500 prize money and a $12,500 commission for a new play. Belvoir has a long history of working with Indigenous artists including writers, directors, designers and actors, and of portraying unique Indigenous stories. Under Artistic Director Ralph Myers we continue our commitment to presenting significant Indigenous works and engaging Indigenous artists at Belvoir in both our Upstairs and Downstairs Theatres. Belvoir extends our warmest thanks to The Balnaves Foundation for its ongoing support.


Biographies ROBERT J. MERRITT Writer Robert J. Merritt (1945–2011) was brought up on Erambie Aboriginal Mission, NSW. The Cake Man, written in isolation in Bathurst Jail, was an attempt to express the root causes of Aboriginal despair. It was first performed in 1975 by the newly formed National Black Theatre in Redfern, followed by a number of successful productions. In the 1980s Robert J. Merritt made a number of documentary films, was Chair of the Aboriginal Arts Board, the first Aboriginal member of the Australia Council and Chair of the Festival of Pacific Arts in 1988. KYLE J. MORRISON Director Kyle is the Artistic Director of Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. He has been working in the theatre industry in Western Australia as an actor for 20 years, with companies including Black Swan State Theatre Company, Deckchair Theatre Company, Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company. In 2008 Kyle was assistant director on Yibiyung for Belvoir; Romeo and Juliet (Sydney Theatre Company); and Female of the Species (Black Swan State Theatre Company). For Yirra Yaakin Kyle has also directed Muttacar Sorry Business (Mitch Torres and David Milroy, 2007–2010), In the Nyitting Time (2008), Good Lovin’ (David Milroy, 2009–10), Honey Spot (Jack Davis, 2010–2012), Mother’s Tongue (Kamarra Bell-Wykes, 2010), Kaarla Kaatijin (Zac James, 2012–2013).

LUKE CARROLL Sweet William Luke is a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation with family ties throughout the Riverina District of NSW. He was born and grew up on Gadigal land in the inner suburbs of Sydney. Luke has appeared in Capricornia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Conversations With the Dead at Belvoir. Other theatre credits include Riverland (Adelaide Festival); Eora Crossing (Sydney Festival); Purple Dreams, My Girragundji (Bell Shakespeare); and The Cherry Pickers (STC). Luke’s film credits include Australian Rules, Needle, Stone Bros, Subdivision, The Tender Hook and Children of the Revolution. His TV credits include hosting the Deadly Awards on SBS, Heartbeat (UK TV), Redfern Now, Home and Away, Going Bush, The Alice, R.A.N, Stingers, All Saints, Water Rats, Heartbreak High, The Man from Snowy River and The Flying Doctors. Luke is currently a presenter on Play School and will appear in the ABC series The Gods of Wheat Street in 2013. Luke recently won the 2013 Deadly Award for Male Actor of the Year for his performance in Redfern Now. He was also nominated for an AACTA Award for Redfern Now, AFI Awards for Australian Rules and R.A.N. Luke won Best Actor at POV 2003 for his performance in the short film Free.


STEPHEN CURTIS Set & Costume Designer Stephen graduated from NIDA in 1978 and held the position of Head of Design at AFTRS for four years. He has worked extensively as a designer for theatre, film, opera, dance and exhibition, collaborating with Belvoir, Opera Australia, State Opera of South Australia, Queensland Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Centre, Melbourne Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Sydney Dance Company, Ensemble Theatre, Stalker Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare. Stephen designed the sets for Belvoir’s first production, Signal Driver, and for this company has since designed The Business, Gwen in Purgatory, Scorched, The Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie and Little Ragged Blossom, It Just Stopped, In Our Name, The Underpants, Svetlana in Slingbacks, Emma’s Nose, The Small Poppies, Cosi, Popular Mechanicals 1 and 2, The Headbutt, Picasso at the Lapine Agile, The Alchemist and The Blind Giant is Dancing. As a production designer, Stephen’s film credits include Looking for Alibrandi, Twelfth Night, Breathing Underwater, Bedevil and Night Cries. In 2000 Stephen designed the 1000 years of the Olympic Games, Treasures of Ancient Greece exhibition for the Powerhouse Museum.

WAYNE FREER Composer & Sound Designer Wayne is a composer/ musical director/multi instrumentalist who plays tuba, electric and double bass, trombone, euphonium, guitar, banjo, keyboards, bass pedals and drums. Wayne’s theatre career began in Adelaide in the early 1980s, working with Neil Armfield and Jim Sharman at Lighthouse and with Geoffrey Rush at Magpie Theatre in Education. Since then he has worked as musical director and/or musician for Belvoir, Melbourne Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Etcetera Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, Snuff Puppets/ Back To Back Theatre, Force Majeure and many others. OSCAR REDDING Civilian / Mr Peterson Oscar is a writer and director who has worked in theatre and film for over 20 years. He began acting at ATYP. Since then some of his stage credits include Forget Me Not (Belvoir); Baal (Malthouse Theatre/ Sydney Theatre Company); The Things You Cannot Know (VCA Masters); Thomas M. Wright is Tongue and Convict 102 (A Poor Theatre); Antigone (Hoist); The Idiot (Liminal Theatre); Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme (Theatre Works); An Evening with the Devil (Playbox); and Anna Livia is a Whore


(Australian Theatre for Young People). Oscar’s film and TV credits include The Turning, Top of the Lake, Van Diemen’s Land, Cop Hard, Puberty Blues, Redfern Now and Beaconsfield. Oscar is a proud Equity member. GEORGE SHEVTSOV Priest / Mission Inspector George is best known for his role as Ken Sherry in the film Love Serenade, which won the Camera d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996. He has worked with Steven Berkoff in his production of Metamorphosis, played opposite Tom Selleck in Ike: Countdown to D-Day and performed the title role in the ballet Don Quixote. Theatre credits include GRACE (Deckchair Theatre); Don’t Look Back (Dream Think Speak); Red Shoes (Thin Ice Productions); and Things That Remain (Link Dance Company). George’s film and TV credits include Japanese Story, Let’s Get Skase, The Shark Net, Big Sky, Mushrooms, Clowning Around, Stormworld, No Through Road and Esoterica. George has also directed three one-act operas: La Voix Humaine, Mavra, Mozart and Salieri for the Australian Opera Studio.

JAMES SLEE Pumpkinhead Born in Wakka Wakka country, James traditionally belongs to the Kuku Yalanji and Goa people. He lives with his family in Newcastle. James enjoys football, art and school and has become a great achiever in many subjects. He is very proud of his culture and has been taught traditional dances from his country by his Uncle. He also plays the didgeridoo. James’ theatre and television credits include The Secret River (Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney and Perth seasons); Broken Shore (Essential Media/ABC TV); and Redfern Now (Blackfella Films/ABC). TIM SOLLY Soldier / Mission Manager Since graduating in 2003, Tim has worked for theatre companies including Black Swan State Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, State Theatre Company of South Australia, The Production Company and Deckchair Theatre. His TV appearances include Cloudstreet, McLeod’s Daughters and All Saints. Tim first worked with Yirra Yaakin in 2011 on the world premiere of Waltzing the Wilarra by David Milroy, at the Perth International Arts Festival. He played the role of returned soldier, Jack, and for this performance won Best Supporting Male Actor at the MEAA Equity Awards.


JENNY VILA Lighting Designer Now based in Perth, Jenny was born in Stockholm, brought up in Spain and Sweden and trained in London, graduating with Honours in Technical Theatre from RADA. As a lighting designer in Europe, Jenny’s work has included Mara, Adios NoNino, Egobio, Cap Pela, Les Formigues and Kissing the Goldfish. In Australia, she has lit Sue Healey’s Variant at the Seymour Centre, Cured by Marisa Garreffa, One Night Echo for The Duck House, The Ghost’s Child directed by Sally Richardson and Cats at the Regal Theatre for ICW Productions. When not designing lighting, Jenny has worked as technical manager for the Singapore Carousel Festival, venue director for the New York Fringe and producer of the Festival Internacional de Teatre Visual i Titelles in Barcelona. Between 2005 and 2010 Jenny was based in the UK where she was the international producer of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, and produced both editions of the Norwich International Puppet Festival. She is currently an associate producer for Barking Gecko Theatre Company. SUE WILKES Stage Manager Sue graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts stage management course 18 years ago and has worked with most WA companies since then. Sue stage managed Yirra Yaakin’s Karl Karniny for the Perth International Arts Festival in 2003. She was the full-time stage manager at the

Perth Concert Hall for four years and worked with the Revelation Film Festival in 2012 and 2013. A recent highlight was overseeing the stage management for the University of Western Australia’s centenary celebration LUMINOUSnight. IRMA WOODS Ruby Irma is from Minang/ Goreng country. She is currently the Project Manager for Yirra Yaakin’s Recording Stories Program, a theatre practitioner and emerging filmmaker. Trained at the Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts in Brisbane, Irma has performed in Up the Road (1998) and As You Like It (1999) at Belvoir. She returned to Perth to play Ethel in the Yirra Yaakin production of Aliwa in 2000. Irma was last seen on stage in Yirra Yaakin’s production of Waltzing the Wilarra by David Milroy at the 2011 Perth International Arts Festival. She made her directing debut with the short documentary If I Drown I Can Swim by Maitland Schnaars. Irma is currently on the Board of both Stages WA and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.


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Indigenous Theatre at Belvoir supported by The Balnaves Foundation

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