The Shorebird Quest - May 2023
The Shorebird Flock returns!
Yawuru Nagulagun (Roebuck Bay)
Town Beach, Broome, Western Australia
20 May 2023
In front of a captivated crowd of about three thousand people, hundreds of giant puppets took flight as Theatre Kimberley’s The Shorebird Quest returned and illuminated the mudflats Yawuru Nagulagun / Roebuck Bay in Broome, on Saturday 20 May 2023.
The cross-cultural story of thousands of endangered migratory shorebirds that make the perilous annual journey from Siberia to Broome to feed was brought to life by Yawuru Country knowledge.
The romantic-comedy musical which included puppetry, storytelling and dance was originally researched and co-written with Parks and Wildlife Services Yawuru Rangers and Yawuru Country Managers in 2019.
“We were so thrilled to bring The Shorebird Quest back to Broome. We were privileged to work with an incredible team of artists, Yawuru Rangers, and community members, to tell the love story of Curtis the Curlew. He flies all the way from Siberia to spend the wet season here, where he depends on the incredibly important ecosystem of the mudflats on Yawuru Country,” said Artistic Director, Meredith Bell.
After four years in hibernation, the popular four-metre-tall giant puppets, threatened Eastern Curlews named Curtis, Keith, and Kerry, stretched out their wings, and returned to the one-of-a-kind 40-metre muddy stage.
More than 300 puppets and props, including mosquitos, dugongs, the sun and Kimberley moon, were constructed in Broome by a team of professional theatremakers, as well as community volunteers and school students.
This year’s performance also treated the audience to six, never-seen-before bird puppets, each with a wingspan of two metres.
With original music co-written and co-composed by Hayden Khutze and Musical Director Jaime Jackett, the performance featured voices from across Broome, including combined choirs which showcased a new song in Yawuru language.
The Shorebird Quest would not have been possible without many local community partnerships, including the Parks & Wildlife Services Kimberley’s Yawuru Rangers and Nyamba Buru Yawuru’s Country Managers, Goolarri Media and Broome schools, Environs Kimberley and the Shire of Broome.
This project was supported by funding from Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative, the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program, the Shire of Broome, Healthway, Act Belong Commit, the Tate Family Foundation and the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund, which supports the arts in regional and remote Australia.