Without giving too much away, we ask Tamiru what the storyline involves. “The Aboriginal invasion,” he says. “The Aboriginals are coming! And find the place needs fixing up a bit. Blak Cabaret puts the mirror up to people. The show is very provocative; it plays with people’s feelings. It will make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, feel uncomfortable. Maybe enlightened too. History is told by so many people. Australia has an Aboriginal history – our show has a look at what Australian history really was. We’re having a little bit of fun with Australian history. We flip Australian history on its head.”
As the creator of the Blak Cabaret concept, Tamiru got the writer of television’s Black Comedy to get it onto the page and then the stage. “Nakkiah Lui [is] a contemporary comedy writer from NSW who put together Black Comedy that’s aired on TV,” says Tamiru. “I made contact with her and asked if she was interested, how she felt about writing it. I had it all in my head and needed to get it out of her head, so she was able to do that.”
Despite his creative involvement, Tamiru doesn’t appear in the production himself. “I’m not going to embarrass myself in front of these artists! I’m a producer; I’ve been producing various [things] for seven or eight years. I produce festivals, music gigs, comedy gigs and theatre, a bit of everything. The thing I find most enjoyable is doing gigs for my people – the community gigs.”
Tamiru has a strong idea of what he wants audiences to take away from the show. “The majority of our audiences will be non-indigenous. People will see this project as something – not just special, as in Aboriginal special, just a special Australian show, and an Aboriginal Australian cabaret show. It will be judged on whether or not it’s a good or bad show. People will say, ‘It’s good for diversity,’ put it under a label; people will put it in some kind of box. Blak Cabaret is a platform for our people, but it’s not under the banner of NAIDOC or the Sorries or Recognition. It’s a cabaret show, featuring some wonderful performers who also happen to be Aboriginal. “I’ve seen all these people perform, worked with all the artists before Blak Cabaret. Everybody ‘gets’ the show. They all want to invest their time in it. “We’re a proud race of people,” Tamiru continues.
“We just like being who we are, outside the politics and so forth. We want to just go about doing our business, and that’s not making boomerangs or nets or anything, not hunting or fishing. We’ve been prodded and poked and it’s having a negative effect. Australia’s having an identity crisis. Constitutional recognition isn’t an issue for a lot of us – we can’t go back to yesterday – but we want our connection to our land acknowledged. We just want to live and breathe as indigenous people. We’re just telling the world we are who we are. People aren’t listening. We just want to be recognised and respected as the traditional owners of this country, and to share the fruits of this country. I’d absolutely love to tour Blak Cabaret round the country, take it round Australia.”
BY LIZA DEZFOULI