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Queens Park Theatre to hold African marketplace for Black Brass, telling stories of migrants with song

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Mararo Wangai and Mahamudo Selimane are bringing their performance Black Brass to Geraldton next month.
Camera IconMararo Wangai and Mahamudo Selimane are bringing their performance Black Brass to Geraldton next month. Credit: Christophe Canato

A show inspired by real migrant stories will be performed in Geraldton, taking the audience through the “beautiful mess of life” and opening hearts to voices not often heard in the theatre.

Evocative storytelling theatrical performance Black Brass will showcase the stories of Perth’s diverse African communities at the Queens Park Theatre on Saturday, August 19, sharing the pain of leaving home, the joy of being accepted into another country and the confusion and uncertainty of existing between both.

In a blend of live music and storytelling, the performance delves into themes of resilience and personal victories.

The performance begins with a cleaner (Mararo Wangai) left to tidy up the mess left by careless musicians when a window opens onto his life and he’s hit with the pain, alienation, confusion and gratitude of leaving his home country.

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On the other side, another man (Mahamudo Selimane) is recording songs of home, love and power.

Mararo Wangai and Mahamudo Selimane performing Black Brass.
Camera IconMararo Wangai and Mahamudo Selimane performing Black Brass. Credit: Christophe Canato

Black Brass is described by The Australian Stage as sensational, soul-searching and soul-searing and sold out three weeks in a row at Belvoir Theatre in Sydney in 2022.

The tour is engaging with the Midwest African Association, who will help to transform the QPT foyer into a pre-performance African marketplace, offering an array of colours and sounds symbolic of Africa.

Wangai and and Selimane will be available for meet-and-greet sessions after the show and will be performing off-site live music at Regional Sounds in the lead up to the performance.

Wangai said he felt a need to showcase aspects of the African experience through a celebration of voice, while not being afraid to look critically at issues concerning Africans in the diaspora.

“The script germinated from the 20 hours’ worth of interviews that I conducted with individuals from a diverse range of African countries who have come to call Australia home,” he said.

Mararo Wangai and Mahamudo Selimane performing Black Brass.
Camera IconMararo Wangai and Mahamudo Selimane performing Black Brass. Credit: Christophe Canato

“The interviews were conducted under the theme of resilience and I felt inspired by the complexities, depth and nuance in each of these voices.

“Whatever messages an audience takes away from this narrative is out of my control as each will experience it from their own unique vantage point and make of it what they will.

“My job is to celebrate these stories, proclaim that they are deserving of an audience’s attention and, together with the rest of the team, craft a journey that is challenging, thought-provoking and unafraid of truths as uncomfortable as they may be.”

Selimane was one of those interviewees and never expected to be a part of the show, but Wangai kept at him and eventually he was convinced.

“I wasn’t expecting to get involved because Mararo first came to interview me about my career as a musician,” he said.

“On my first day I felt like I was faking. I didn’t feel like it was any good. I was thinking, ‘what am I doing here? This is the wrong place for me’.

“Then I started to play some music — because I had to make up some songs on the spot — and as I started writing the first song the feedback from the people there was good.”

For tickets visit the City of Greater Geraldton website.

Mahamudo Selimane and Mararo Wangai on set for Black Brass.
Camera IconMahamudo Selimane and Mararo Wangai on set for Black Brass. Credit: Christophe Canato

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