If only all world rulers had the same approach to legacy building as the Chiefs from the Wadagadum tribe on Mabuiag Island, who in their role as leaders bring a different creative expansion to their culture through art and story telling.
When Jimi Bani’s father Dimple was the chief of Wadagadum tribe he was a singer, dancer and story teller. Jimi’s grandfather was also a singer, dancer, filmmaker and linguist who did a lot to preserve their language. His grandfather’s father created the World War Two Plane Dance as a response to his experience of War World Two in the Torres Strait. Now, the charismatic Jimi (Redfern Now, Mabo, The Straits) is next in line to be chief and he is bringing his brilliant acting skills and story telling to his new show My Name is Jimi as a way to not only preserve culture and language, but also create a highly entertaining contemporary narrative about identity and belonging.
Interview with Jimi Bani, Jason Klarwein and the cast My Name is Jimi
My Name is Jimi is the story of a small community of people clinging tightly to each other, and fighting to protect what really matters, in the whirling chaos of a rapidly changing world. The show also features Jimi’s grandmother, son, mother and brothers who all bring their singing and dancing skills to the stage.
The inspiration for the show came when co-collaboration and director Jason Klarwein visited Jimi’s dad Dimple on Thursday Island and shared a long conversation under a tree on the foreshore about culture, youth and stories of Waganadum.
As Klarwein says “It’s a real privilege but also a big reasonability it’s taken four years to make and we tread a long, deep, cultural path along the way, it hasn’t gone wrong because we respected and listened really carefully to the elders.”
Sadly, Dimple passed away in that time so the show is sort of a tribute to him and what he represented as a chief of the Wadagadum people.
The show opened to rave reviews in Cairns earlier this month and as one friend remarked “My whitey friends, do yourself a favour, go see this, I saw the premiere last night in Cairns, it’s like you are there with the Bani family on Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait.”
My Name is Jimi 22 July – 13 August
Bille Brown Studio, Queensland Theatre more info here
More POPSART here