As always, a showcase of Australia’s first voices features prominently. This year we welcome multi-award winning hip-hop artist Ziggy Ramo who is making waves across the country with his frank assessment of race relations and thirst for change. Miles Franklin winning author Kim Scott will be speaking and will also be appearing as part of the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project which is resurrecting an endangered Aboriginal language from our region. The Bilya Kep Waagnkiny (river water stories) Noongar poetry project will bring something new and the much loved Yabu Band will bring their inspiring blend of country twinged music infused with their Noongar/Wangai culture and virtuoso musicianship. The new Noongar youth choir Koondarm will make their Festival debut. Local Noongar Elders Lynette Knapp, Lester Coyne and Eugene Eades will be speaking. Perth based Noongar choir Madjital Moorna and the South Coast Noongar music collective Mixed Mob are both back by popular demand.
Storytelling is a major component of the festival. The storytelling yurt is a beautiful handmade space by Denmark’s very own yurt-makers, and is our dedicated venue for the art of story. This year we will host four speakers from the Centre for Stories and a number of people with interesting stories to tell.
Daniel Bacon will share intimate stories about being transgender and the importance of self-acceptance, self-love and authenticity. His brother Matthew Bacon is a gay man with a love of sharing stories. Esther Amito Onek (right) was born in South Sudan and is from the Acholi tribe. Due to South Sudan’s instability, her family fled to Kakuma Refugee camp where they lived for seven years. Hossein Bouazar is a young Ahwazi refugee who arrived in Australia late 2012 and will speak about the importance of freedom and democracy in his journey. Lynette Knapp is a Minang Noongar Elder living in Albany. She infuses stories of this land with her own experiences tales of her ancestors to weave captivating narratives full of humour and emotion. Winiata Puru’s (below) music comes from the front line of Forest protests and his life at the The Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Rae Gibson and Carrie Brock (WA Deaf Arts) offer an insight into the world of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and deaf arts. Together they formed WA Deaf Arts. Rae is a mime artist who trained with Marcel Marceau. Delson Stokes (Yabu Band) is an inspiring Noongar -Wangai musician Delson Stokes tells stories of his life and musical pursuits. Eugene Eades was once a national champion boxer, now he is a healer and a leader. A proud Noongar man from the Great Southern, Eugene is pivotal in a movement of reconnecting land and people in Southern Western Australia. B. Forrester is a local indie author… and Josephine Lebbing is an inspiring community facilitator hosting an open conversation.
Butter Factory Studios
The Club by night, and in the daytime holding a space for voices often unheard.
In 2011, Renee Pettitt-Schipp collaborated with Fremantle Press to exhibit short forms of poetry written by asylum seeker and Islander students, written on thongs that wash up on Christmas Island’s shores. The result is the moving Thonglines exhibition and talk. Esther Amito Onek and Hossein Bouazar will also share their personal stories of arriving in Australia. The Butter Factory Studios will also host some free workshops, including the art of Auslan.
5 Days not 5 Years on Manus Island
There is much controversy about the offshore processing of asylum seekers. What is it all about? Dawn Barrington and Tim Maisey (Denmark film maker) set off on a journey to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea to play music with the refugees and film the experience. Dawn will open 5 Days not 5 Years on Manus at the Denmark Arts Artshouse with two songs followed by a 40-minute documentary and Q&A session.
This year’s panel discussion will be chaired by Nicole Hodgson on the topic of voice and identity. The panel will feature Zainab Zahra Syed (left) Kim Scott, Rae Gibson from WA Deaf Arts (right), Daniel and Matthew Bacon and Delson Stokes (Yabu Band).
Poetry and Song at Teahouse Books
Soup and food will be available at our annual Teahouse Books poetry and song session, which features Australian Slam Champ Jesse Oliver, (right) the wonderful women’s hall of fame inductee Kate Wilson and a unique poetic/musical event The Sky Runs Right Through Us exploring themes of migration, detention, grief, love, family, as well as connection and disconnection between people and the natural world.
Jesse will also be hosting the Denmark Festival of Voice Poetry Slam. This is a free session – bring your own poem! Check out Jesse’s workshop first: slam poetry performance workshop. Come experience this epic battle of words.
Spoken Word Theatre
Following her solo show, The Wolf Bride, at 2017’s Denmark Festival of Voice, Christina Cairns brings audiences a new performance of storytelling, a winter’s feast of fables and songs both old and new, with more than a hint of the strangeness of the world. And RaeleneB offers a solo performance of An Invitation to the Wedding of Inanna and Dumuzi – original songs and story-telling based on the 5,000-year-old love poetry of Inanna from Ancient Sumer. Raelene is an expert in the performance of stories of the goddess Inanna of Ancient Sumer after doing a PhD on this very topic.
Voices in the Street
During the festival, Strickland Streets will come alive with the sounds of live piano….buskers… flashmobs…rovers and more. Watch out for mime artist Darian Le Page mime.
Denmark Town Crier
Traditionally Town Criers were used to offer proclamations, news, bylaws etc as well as announce events. In Denmark, we expect to do it a little differently and envision our Town Crier to be unique to the ‘Denmark creative ethos’.
Denmark Arts will hold a Cry-off at the Denmark Festival of Voice to select an Adult and Junior Town Crier. Proposed roles and rules for the ‘Cry-off’ are here. Denmark Town Crier Rules and Roles