AustLit logo
person or book cover
Image courtesy of Magabala Books
y separately published work icon Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey single work   musical theatre  
Issue Details: First known date: 1990... 1990 Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

The story of Bran Nue Dae concerns Willie, who having been expelled from the missionary school in Perth returns to Broome on the far north coast of Western Australia. Before leaving Perth, however, he finds his Uncle Tadpole and together they make the journey home with a hippie and a German tourist. Willy discovers sex and true love and their adventures end in the revelation that all the principle characters are related to each other. The whole is a celebration of the multi-cultural life of Broome and of the failures by government and church to make the black population assimilate and conform.

Exhibitions

18159555
18005706

Adaptations

form y separately published work icon Bran Nue Dae Reg Cribb , Rachel Perkins , Jimmy Chi , Jimmy Chi (composer), Kuckles (composer), ( dir. Rachel Perkins ) 2009 Australia : Robyn Kershaw Productions Mayfan , 2009 Z1562265 2009 single work film/TV (taught in 5 units)

Based on the stage musical of the same name by Jimmy Chi and the band Kuckles, Bran Nue Dae is set in 1969 and follows Willie, a young man who struggles to find a balance between the three things that drive his life: his love for his girl Rosie, his respect for his mother, and his religious faith. Willie's uncomplicated life of fishing and hanging out with his mates and his girl in the idyllic world of Broome is turned upside down when his mother returns him to the religious mission for further schooling and entry into the priesthood. After being punished for an act of youthful rebellion, he runs away from the mission on a journey that leads him to meet his 'Uncle Tadpole' and eventually return to Broome. Along the way, Willie and Uncle Tadpole meet a couple of hippies, spend the night in gaol, and meet a gun-toting roadhouse operator, while managing to stay one step ahead of Father Benedictus, who wants to bring Willie back to the mission.

Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable For

AC: Year 10 (NSW Stage 5)

Themes

belonging, coming of age, displacement, identity, musical

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding

Cross-curriculum Priorities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Notes

  • Bran Nue Dae was produced at Macquarie University as part of the second National Black Playwrights Conference (NBPC) in 1988; Brian Syron directed a videoed performance of the work in the presence of Jimmy Chi, who flew in from Broome for the occasion.

  • The script for Bran Nue Dae was included in the 1989 Aboriginal National Theatre Trust Playwrights' Conference after having previously been work shopped in 1986 by the Aboriginal Writers, Oral Literature and Dramatists Association in Perth.
  • In Post-Colonial Drama (1996), Helen Gilbert and Joanne Tompkins argue that Jimmy Chi and Kuckles display with their choice of musical styles a kind of ideotonal subversion despite seeming to neutalise the oppositional tenor of the text (ideotones are audio-narrative units which suggest an affirmation or challenge to the unity of the dominant ideological discourse of the time). "Using catchy tunes and pleasant rhythms in ironic apposition to lyrics which voice less than mellow protests against European colonialisation, the play provides a sustained challenge to the hegemony of conventional forms of Broadway musical. Singing is enacted in Aboriginal dialects, in English, and in a special blended language called 'Broome Kriol,' while the musical score draws rhythmic inspiration from such disparate sources as country and western, calypso, reggae, gospel, blues, and tribal chant to articulate a syncretic mixture of song/sound/music that reflects the complex genealogies of the characters. In short, the play's music is used to carnivalise boundaries by appropriating borrowed forms, crossing cultural boundaries and fissuring European notions of aural harmony" (p. 198).

  • An original cast recording was produced at Planet Studios (Perth) between 1 and 5 September 1993. It was released the following year by BD Records. The cast included: Stephen Albert, Sylvanna Doolan, Trevor Jamieson, Alice Haines, Leah Purcell, Steve Kidd, James Hancock and James Edgar. The musicians are: Steve Pigram (guitars, vocals), Alan Pigram (guitars), Chong Lim (keyboards), Duncan Campbell (keyboards), Sue Irvin (keyboards), Patrick Bin Amat (bass guitar), Phillip Pigram (drums, percussion).

  • After the premiere 1990 Perth season (staged as part of the Perth Festival) Bran Nue Dae toured regional Western Australia, Canberra, Brisbane, and Darwin. It was revived for a 1992/993 national tour and a cabaret version was later devised for an Australian tour (this also included a season in Fiji). The musical has been revived in Broome on a frequent basis since 1990.

Production Details

  • Productions and tours of Bran Nue Dae include the following:

    1990: Octagon Theatre, Perth; 24 February - 17 March. Bran Nue Dae Productions/Western Australian Theatre Company (WATC); Music Director Michael Manolis and Stephen Pigram; Choreography Michael Leslie; Costumes Cordula Albrecht; Production Design Robert Juniper.
    - Cast: John Moore, Ernie Dingo, Michelle Torres-Hill, Lynda Nutter, Stephen Albert, Bob Faggetter, Alan Charlton, Maroochie Barambah, Rohanna Angus, Sylvia Clarke, Jimmy Edgar.

      • A second production was mounted after the Festival of Perth season.

    1990: North-West Australia tour; ca. September/October. Bran Nue Dae Productions/Western Australian Theatre Company (WATC); Production credits as for Perth season.
    - Cast Includes John Moore, Lynda Nutter, Stephen Albert, Bob Faggetter, Alan Charlton, Michael Leslie, Sylvia Clarke, Brian Saabin, Jimmy Edgar, Josie Lawford, Rohanna Angus, Della Morrison, Rasheeda Bin Omat, Cecilia Dann, Ricky Haji Noor.

      • Tour itinerary included Darwin Performing Arts Centre; 6-8 September / Kununurra 11-12 September / Derby 14-15 September / Broome 18-22 September / Port Hedland 25-26 September / Karratha 28-29 September / Geraldton [n. details]. Kalumburu School [n. details]

    1990: Canberra Theatre (ACT); 2-6 October. - Bran Nue Dae Productions/WATC/Canberra Theatre Company. Cast and production mostly as for Perth and North-West Australia tour.

    1990: Adelaide Festival Centre; 10 October - ; Bran Nue Dae Productions/WATC. Cast and production mostly as for North-West Australia tour

    1990: Lyric Theatre, Brisbane; 12-15 December. Bran Nue Dae Productions/WATC. Production credits mostly as for previous seasons.
    - Cast Included: Ernie Dingo, John Moore, Lynda Nutter, Stephen Albert, Bob Faggetter, Alan Charlton, Michael Leslie, Sylivia Clarke, Brian Saabin, Jimmy Edgar, Josie Lawford, Rohanna Angus, Della Morrison, Rasheeda Bin Omat, Cecilia Dann, Ricky Haji Noor.

    1991: Riverside Theatre, Parramatta (NSW); 4-19 January. Bran Nue Dae Productions/WATC/Sydney Festival. Production credits mostly as for previous seasons.
    - Cast Included Ernie Dingo, Stephen Albert, Rohanna Angus, Sylvia Clarke, Bob Faggetter, John Moore, Linda Nutter, David Sampi.

    1991: Seymour Centre, Sydney; 22 January - 9 February. Bran Nue Dae Productions/WATC. Cast and production mostly as for Brisbane/Parramatta seasons.

    1993: Playhouse Theatre, VAC (Melbourne); 3-24 July. Bran Nue Dae Productions/Melbourne Theatre Company/Black Swan Theatre Company (BSTC). Director Andrew Ross; Music Director Steve Pigram; Production Design Steve Nolan; Choreography Michael Leslie.
    - Cast Included Heath Bergersen, Ali Torres, Steve Kidd, Leah Purcell, Stephen Albert, Trevor Jamieson, Alice Haines, James Hancock, Jim Edgar, Sylvia Clarke, Syvana Doolan, Djunawong Stanley Mirando, John Collard, Brett Dimer, Jac Hill, Vanessa Johnson, Ningal Lawford, Lynette Lewis, Brian Saaban, Richard Talonga (dance captain).

    • Musicians: Saltwater Cowboys - Steve Pigram (guitar), Alan Pigram (guitar), Patrick Bin Amet (bass), Philip Pigram (drums), Duncan Campbell, Sue Irvin and Chong Lim (keyboards).

    1993: Perth; ca. August. Bran Nue Dae Productions/WATC/BSTC. Cast and production mostly as for previous Melbourne season.

    2020 : Performed as part of Sydney Festival at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, from January 15 to February 1, 2020, and as part of Perth Festival at the Regal Theatre  February 6 to 15, 2020. 

  • Entries connected with this record have been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian music-film, theatre and television being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 1990

Works about this Work

Bran Nue Dae Review : Exceptional Singing and Music Obscure the Political Heart of This Classic Australian Musical Bronwyn Carlson , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Conversation , 20 January 2020;

— Review of Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , 1990 single work musical theatre

'It is exciting to see such a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander productions offered at this year’s Sydney Festival, including the first major revival of the 1990 award-winning musical Bran Nue Dae.'

Bran Nue Generation Victoria Laurie , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 4 January 2020; (p. 8)

— Review of Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , 1990 single work musical theatre

The Kimberley town of Broome is getting behind a new Opera Australia production of its most cherished musical, writes Victoria Laurie

Bran Nue Outing Victoria Laurie , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 2 November 2019; (p. 24)

'Thirty years on from its first production, the iconic Broome musical remains a story of our time' 

Bran Nue Dae 'more Important Than Ever' as Landmark Musical Returns for 30th Anniversary Matt Bamford , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: ABC News [Online] , April 2019;

'With Indigenous youth suicide rates at record levels, poor living conditions and substance abuse crippling communities, there's never been a better time for Bran Nue Dae.'

Talkin’ Blak : Humour in Indigenous Australian Theatre, 1970−2000 Karen Austin , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Philament , February no. 20 2015; (p. 129-164)
'This paper looks at the renaissance of Indigenous Australian theatrical performance, from the early 1970s to its prominence in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. It focuses on the specific ways that humour has been used by Indigenous Australian performing artists to highlight unpleasant social issues in their communities, such as poverty, alcohol abuse, and the removal/stealing of children from their families. In conjunction with witty repartee, visual comedy both in movement and mimicry is often used by Indigenous performers. Philosopher Henri Bergson, well-known for his contributions to humour studies, claims that the physical humour in inflexible, repetitive, or exaggerated movements is inherently funny. Bergson argues that rigidity of movements or “something mechanical encrusted on the living” makes comedians appear inhuman and, as a consequence, this makes people laugh. Contemporary philosopher and humour theorist Simon Critchley notes that the opposite is also true: We often find it funny when people give the impression of being all too human. For Critchley, the recognition of predictable behaviours is just as funny as any automated actions.' (129-130)
Bran Nue Hit Brian Hoad , 1991 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 15 January vol. 112 no. 5753 1991; (p. 99)

— Review of A Stretch of the Imagination Jack Hibberd , 1971 single work drama ; Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , 1990 single work musical theatre
Gaps Amid the Verbal Snaps Ann Nugent , 1991 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 29 June 1991; (p. C9)

— Review of Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , 1990 single work musical theatre ; The State of Play : The Revolution in the Australian Theatre Since the 1960s Leonard Radic , 1991 single work criticism
Fresh Australian Musical Full of Enthusiasm Ann Nugent , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 3 October 1990; (p. 5)

— Review of Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , 1990 single work musical theatre
Nue Dae a New Era Tim Lloyd , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 12 October 1990; (p. 12)

— Review of Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , 1990 single work musical theatre
Chi Converts Anger into Creative Force Jeremy Eccles , 1990 single work review
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 11 October 1990; (p. 19)

— Review of Bran Nue Dae : A Musical Journey Jimmy Chi , 1990 single work musical theatre
y separately published work icon Jimmy Chi's Bran Nue Dae Frank Sheehan , Sydney : ABC Radio , 1991 Z1037458 1991 single work criticism
Aboriginal Encounters : Cross-Cultural Perspectives on First Nation Drama Marc Maufort , 2003 single work criticism
— Appears in: Transgressive Itineraries : Postcolonial Hybridizations of Dramatic Realism 2003; (p. 147-231)
Section II of this chapter is entitled 'Staging Australian Aboriginality.'
Reinventing Cultures : The Politics of Cultural Reformation as Reflected in Contemporary Aboriginal Performing Arts Maurie Scott , 1997 single work criticism
— Appears in: Aratjara : Aboriginal Culture and Literature in Australia 1997; (p. 129-143)
A Rewarding Experience Lindy Brophy , 1991 single work column
— Appears in: Fremantle Arts Review , April vol. 6 no. 4 1991; (p. 10-11)
Out of the West Jeremy Eccles , 1991 single work column
— Appears in: Fremantle Arts Review , May vol. 6 no. 5 1991; (p. 14-15)

Awards

Last amended 25 Mar 2020 09:50:23
Settings:
  • Broome, Kimberley area, North Western Australia, Western Australia,
  • Perth, Western Australia,
  • Beagle Bay, Kimberley area, North Western Australia, Western Australia,
Newspapers:
    Powered by Trove
    X