30
Jul
17

My Name Is Jimi

 

My Name Is Jimi

Queensland Theatre

Queensland Theatre Bille Brown Studio

July 22 – August 13 2017

 

Reviewed by Ann McLean

 

 

 

The family story that expands on history and contemporary cultural knowledge brings a powerfully close connection and imbues greater respect, warmth and love. Jimi himself and two of his family take the stage, backed by support cast members that come from the top end.

 

My Name Is Jimi in part, tells of the legacy of an honoured Chief, Jimi’s father, and his efforts to repatriate the remains of his tribesmen and women. It is much more than a history lesson or a cultural demonstration. It isn’t a manufactured product either, for example, one that might be shown to any audience in any context. This is bespoke, funny and very specially crafted to be authentic, touching and strongly memorable. 

A simple theatre is transformed through visual effect and carefully crafted miniature sets, to transpose the whole theatre audience to Mabulay in the Torres Strait. We are in the tropical atmosphere of the islanders, visiting them. It is an honour. Through the bold presence of Jimi Bani (Mabo, The Straits, Redfern Now), the connection is genuine from beginning to end. 

This work communicates the way life plays out, how young folks challenge the authority of their parents and the demands of their cultural mentors to keep learning the dances, songs and stories. It is more that familiar though. This work is revolutionary. It allows in narrative and performance for the audience to immerse themselves in lore and the languages of the family, with the familiarity of matriarchal guidance (tea towel of authority in hand), while also letting us understand the fragility of the languages spoken by our elders and the sadness that brings. It lets us in, to see and feel the respect for this tribe. And it has its big bold moments. 

Strikingly familiar disco music delivered via hilarious portable speaker setup, dance moves straight out of 1982, ubiquitous footy shorts and island-associated shirts all bring the audience closer. We lean in, wanting to know more. And we aren’t disappointed. With amazing care, a terrifying fable for keeping children safe is played out for us, delivering the same vibrant shock that impacts the imaginations of children. And then we are sharing a camp fire lesson between father and teenaged son. 

These moments and plenty of lore through story, as well as music and dance with accessible explanations all comes together in a generous, honest performance. The fine art of My Name Is Jimi is very strong. It is pure joy to see to the work of the actors and crafts people who shaped My Name Is Jimi. It gently and warmly reminds us that in the time before archaeology, a long proud history took shape and there are strong families not far from our familiar theatre. Loving families that are bringing up their next generations of Chiefs, and keeping their culture close; people who deserve our respect.  

 

Caveat: As witness, and for perspective, reviewer, Ann McLean is a third generation great grand daughter of white (Scottish and Irish mostly) settlers, a person educated in Queensland in the 70s and 80s. Her enthusiasm for the respect of First Nation people is born of knowing and sharing time with individual friends and colleagues and their people whose family histories go back millenia. 

Advertisements

0 Responses to “My Name Is Jimi”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: