A Moment With Eliah Watego

ACPA Up the Ladder

The Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts production of UP THE LADDER
 opens next week at

QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre.

Directed by Wesley Enoch
 and featuring more than 50 Dancers, Singers, Actors and Musicians from the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts.

After a sell-out season of Jane Harrison’s powerful and moving play Stolen in 2011, the talented students of the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) return with their new production Up the Ladder.

This year, under the guidance of Queensland Theatre Company Artistic Director, renowned playwright and director Wesley Enoch, the ACPA students bring their own dynamic style of music, dance and acting to Roger Bennett’s animated play Up the Ladder.

An inspiring story of triumph over adversity, Up the Ladder evokes the carnival atmosphere, humour and energy of 1940s and 50s sideshows as we follow an Aboriginal man’s journey from the humble rough and tumble of post-war Australian boxing tents to a high profile professional career as a champion boxer.

This exciting new production of Up the Ladder will showcase the next generation of emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait performing artists, share potent memories of Australia’s post-war history and provide a joyous message of redemption and reconciliation.

Up the Ladder

ACPA Actor, Eliah Watego (you may remember him from Blackrock), shared his responses to some quick questions in the lead up to Up the Ladder, opening on Thursday October 25th.

It’s about a man who wants to prove that he is worth being treated right and his struggles to get it. To prepare for the show we had all the actors research different topics involving the show such as the boxing in the 50s, clothing, politics, treatment of indigenous people and of women in the era.

How is the carnival atmosphere created?

The stage itself is going to help and we have specific people creating the energy as well.

Were there political and social points of the times that became important to the setting and the telling of the story?

We had one major one which was the Aboriginal preservation and protection act.

Can you tell us about your character and what this role means for you as an actor?

My character is Sid James and I’m Johnny, the main characters’, friend who supports him in his struggle to the top.
Sid James is a very positive character who continues to bring joy to his friends and family.

Tell us about working with Wesley Enoch.

Wesley is an amazing Director who knows how to work with young indigenous performers and knows how to get what he needs from his actors in the moment while still creating an enjoyable environment for everyone.

Wesley often talks about community. Can you tell us about the ACPA community?

It’s a place where we are continually growing as performers and creating new contacts/family as we study.

Tell us about the ACPA staff and what are your preferred ways of working?

The staff are a great group who not only expect so much from us but of them selves as well which helps us push ourselves to best we can be. 

Do you have any prior formal/informal acting, singing or dancing training?

This is the only training I have had since I started straight out of highschool.  

Are you a fan of Bangarra Dance Theatre? What do you think their success means for them? For you?

I love the opportunities that Bangarra has created for indigenous dancers especially since one of my friends from ACPA got into it. I think it gives a drive for some of the dancers here knowing that they can push for an amazing place like that.

Where is home?

My family originated from the Torres Strait though I was born in Brisbane and therefore I consider this place to be my home and my connection to culture.

What do you see happening in Australian theatre and film? What would you like to see more of?

I think that as the industry grows to accept our culture more, the chance for our stories to be told will become more frequent. I would like more stories being written by Indigenous writers to be funded and shown to the public.

What are you reading?

Solely my script, making sure I know my lines and am ready.

What would you be doing if not performing?

Not sure since I have wanted this for so long.

Eliah WategoWhere do you want to be in 10 years time?

I hope to have a good name in the industry and for people to think I handle my career with drive and professionalism.

Book for Up the Ladder

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