We’re delighted to kick off the New Year with our new international project – Wantok!
Funded by the British Council & Commonwealth Games, Wantok will bring four-weeks of creative activities to parks & public spaces across Birmingham during Summer 2022.
We’re scheming with fellow mischief-makers from Papua New Guinea & Australia to create a barnstorming piece of theatre that brings the stories, the songs, the dances and the cheeky humour of PNG and Australia in a small mobile troupe of world-beating performers.
Wantok is a comedy that uses traditional playground games to share a participatory, educational narrative on the history and culture of PNG and Australia. The show will find family audiences wherever they might be. And whomever they might be.
We know you’ll all give a proper Brummie welcome to the Wantok team: comedian and choreographer Sean Choolburra; musician and artist Alyson Joyce (Enspire PNG), director Sean Murphy (Mama Dojo); Painter and environmental activist, Jeffry Feeger; Digital artist and software engineer Philemon Yalamu and Traditional instrumentalist Michael Tamate!
Meet the incredible artists:
Alyson Joyce is a Papua New Guinean-Australian recording artist, actor and presenter with conscious music on her mind. As a singer and musician she has toured widely in Australia, Papua New Guinea and around the world. In 2018 she compèred the APEC CEO summit in Port Moresby. In 2019 she initiated the Conscious Collaboration project, bringing together South Pacific artists across mediums to create music and visual art which contends with social issues affecting Islander communities.
Jeffry Feeger is a world-renowned and award-winning PNG artist. He is passionate about traditional art and materials with an approach to painting that employs his hands and fingers. Jeffry has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions as well as live painting performances in countries around the world. Jeffry’s style could be said to combine Papua New Guinean subjects and colour palettes with Western modes of realism, surrealism and impressionism. Currently residing in Alotau, PNG, Jeffry has recently begun to explore ‘Plein Air Painting’ as he aims to encourage greater appreciation for the natural environment.
Philemon Yalamu is a software developer, visual artist and PHD candidate with the University of Papua New Guinea. Philemon’s coming dissertation considers how to better engage indigenous PNG audiences via online learning platforms and online user interfaces.
A keen visual storyteller, over the years he has made software applications, animations and websites that place PNG’s deep reservoir of traditional costumes and customs, myths and legends, at the centre of the digital experience.
The father of Cornelius, a young man with cerebral palsy, Philemon is knowledgeable about the struggles that individuals and families face when it comes to disability in PNG. And as a point of activism, it features frequently in his projects.
Michael Tamate is a Papua New Guinean multi-instrumentalist and producer. He has toured widely across the world while remaining a fixture in the local music industry where he frequently performs with the biggest names in South Pacific popular music.
Michael is passionate about preserving traditional culture and plays instruments such as the kundu drum, kua kumba (bamboo flute), shell percussion, bamboo pipes and garamut (wooden log drum) along with contemporary instruments such as the guitar, drums and congas.
Mama Dojo is synonymous with Australian educator and comedian Sean Murphy and consists of a boutique team dedicated to performances that deliver laughter and learning in equal measure. Across 2018-19, Mama Dojo presented shows as part of the Queen’s Baton Relay events around Australia. With a focus on sharing insights into languages and cultures of countries around the Commonwealth, the Games Boy 18 workshop and performance series then went on to tour schools in 55+ Commonwealth nations and territories. At each stop along the way, traditional playground games, songs and pastimes were documented and incorporated into a treasury of ways to play from across the Commonwealth.
This treasury of local games – and associated cultural insights – will form part of the basis of Wantok as an interactive theatre performance.