Mbantua Festival - Awakening in the Desert

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Country and Region AustraliaNorthern Territory
Type of Festival Music
Location of Festival Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Festival Contact Information

Arrulka Business Aboriginal Corporation (ABAC)
P. O. Box 3545
Alice Springs NT 0871
Phone: +61 08 8953 4000

Festival Description

The Mbantua Festival - Awakening in the Desert is a diverse program of traditional and contemporary musicians, dancers and artists, that gives honor to the Stolen Generations. Hosted by the Arrernte peoples of Central Australia, the inaugural 5-day festival, to be held every two years, showcases and celebrates the culture and heritage of the desert communities. The Festival reunites the huge talents of co-Artistic Directors Nigel Jamieson and Rachel Perkins, who also organized the 2001 Yeperenye Federation Festival in Alice Springs.

The Mbantua Festival provides a unique and authentic experience of Central Australian Indigenous desert cultures and communities through traditional and contemporary music, dance, theatre, art, film and food. Director Rachel Perkins says the desert is the perfect place for a local festival with global appeal. “The red earth of Central Australia provides an expansive stage for performances under the brilliant canopy of a desert sky. The Mbantua Festival will bring together local desert communities in a vibrant celebration of their Indigenous traditions and culture, which are embedded in the surrounding country. Visitors to Alice Springs for the festival will have a unique opportunity to experience dreaming stories - conjured through song, dance, music and art – presented in the heart of the country where they began millennia ago. Staged in the beautiful but haunting location of the original Bungalow, this new musical theatre work is an extraordinary chance to travel back to one of the first institutions set up to house Indigenous children of mixed parentage.

The Bungalow Song tells the story of these children, housed at the Bungalow institution from 1932-1942. Many were forcibly removed from their families, other children were placed there by their parents who were working on remote stations and still others were born there, such as Charles Perkins, who is the father of the festival’s co-artistic director, Rachel Perkins.

‘This show presents an opportunity to evoke what the institution represented for the 200 or so kids that, for better or worse, came to know that place as home. It is such an important story to Alice Springs as thousands of people are descended from those children and the place shaped the relationships and people we are today. The children also went on to make an enormous contribution to the town and the nation,‘ Rachel said.

Presented in promenade, the Bungalow Song will be a very emotional, powerful and finally uplifting experience with surviving residents and their families taking part in the show. Music for the show has been composed by David Bridie with contributions from Paul Kelly, Warren H. Williams and local artists.

Festival Dates October 9 - 13, 2013
Festival Links

Festival Events:

Lineup 2013:
  • Jessica Mauboy
  • Bernard Fanning
  • Missy Higgins
  • Dan Sultan
  • Tjintu Desert Band
  • Djupi Band
  • Frank Yamma
  • Archie Roach
  • Warren H. Williams
  • and many others…


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