Production shapes up as a shore thing

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Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman works on a curlew puppet.
Camera IconBernadette Trench-Thiedeman works on a curlew puppet. Credit: Supplied

The shores of Roebuck Bay are set to light up with giant illuminated puppets, storytelling, dance and original music in one of Theatre Kimberley’s biggest collaborative works in more than 20 years.

Theatre Kimberley will perform its latest production, The Shorebird Quest on May 4 in a free event for friends and family to enjoy the natural amphitheatre and beauty of Town Beach at night.

The Shorebird Quest is a co-creation between Theatre Kimberley, the Broome Bird Observatory, Parks and Wildlife Services’ Yawuru rangers, Nyamba Buru Yawuru Country managers and local schools.

It follows Curtis the Curlew on his migration from Siberia to Broome through a fusion of Yawuru Country knowledge, musical theatre and puppetry.

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Writer and puppeteer Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman said the show celebrates the biodiversity of Roebuck Bay, bringing life to the creatures that exist in its water and mudflats.

“It’s an extraordinary synthesis of art, science and community and just like the migratory birds that travel across the globe to visit Roebuck Bay, it forges new connections between people and places,” she said.

Project artistic director and puppet maker Gwen Knox said the making of the puppets has been going well, especially after collaborating with the children at the Broome Youth and Families Hub Drop-In Centre during Youth Week.

“We did a show in the 1990s called The Shorebird Odyssey so this is a bit of a follow on from that,” she said.

“There’s about 200 people in the cast so it will be a massive night. We hope that everyone involved and everyone that watches will learn something about the shorebirds, especially with the transient nature of Broome.”

The production will feature original music written by local musician and former Broome Bird Observatory warden Jaime Jackett.

The original songs will be performed by choir students from Broome Primary School, Cable Beach Primary School and St Mary’s College, along with the Broometime singers and other local musicians.

Ms Jackett said it had been a joy to fuse together her love for composing and shorebirds.

“I’ve been co-writing with the magnificent Hayden Kuhtze and I’m really proud of what we’ve put together — catchy songs with oodles of soul and a sneaky dash of education,” she said.

The story was researched and co-written with Parks and Wildlife Services’ Yawuru rangers and Yawuru Country managers.

Yawuru Country Manager Johani Mamid said it was exciting for the Country managers to be a part of the production.

“We have never been a part of a production like The Shorebird Quest before and we are excited to see how it all comes together,” he said. “As rangers, we talk about the curlew as being threatened, endangered and vulnerable but don’t always get the chance to explain why.

“We see this show as a fun, entertaining way to teach people about why the health of Roebuck Bay is so important and why we have to be considerate to migratory shorebirds.”

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