Five Questions with Ghenoa Gela

Whilst jetting about the countryside with her extensive tour for My Urrwai, Ghenoa Gela shares a little bit about the show in anticipation for the HotHouse Theatre season.

Ghenoa, What’s it like coming back to communities you’ve visited but this time with your own story? Ghenoa visited Albury-Wodonga last year with Shakespeare.

Pretty exciting! I like showing my versatility not only as a performer but as a blak artist navigating the climate of the arts industry in this country. It also shows the unapologetic visibility of the need for more blak bodies on these stages and in these spaces. 

What initially brought you to performance and art making?

It was by chance. I mean I’ve been surrounded by it my whole life! My mum is a visual artist, my dad an artefact maker and between them they dance and sing amongst other things. My first real public performance that I can physically remember was when I was 5 years old doing traditional Torres Strait Islander dancing with my parents and my brothers! We would travel around QLD for NAIDOC week sharing our culture in schools! Through storytelling and dance. I never however, thought I could make a career out of it. I wanted to be the next Cathy Freeman! Haha.. I was really into sport when I was growing up as well – so that’s why it was by chance. Because I never thought about it in this way. Sharing culture is just what I’ve grown up with.

What do you experience ‘in process’ when creating new work?

What I personally experience is NEW EXPERIENCES – all the time! I learn more about myself and that’s actually something I really like! Sometimes it can be really confronting, but I have a bunch of AMAZING mentors to help me navigate my processes. So I know I’m always in a safe place and/or in safe hands.

My Urrwai holds many of your stories. Why this journey now?

Why not? The need to hear more blak stories will ALWAYS be IMPORTANT! Especially in this country. I’m just finding my own space to tell mine. And the conversations that have been I’ve sparked along the way by people who have seen my show, proves the NEED for more – because people now WANT MORE.

Rockhampton was a totally sold out show, how was it bringing your very personal story back to your home town. Is it quite a different experience to bring it back?

It. Was. Amazing. About 3/4 of the audience were friends and family! So their support was proper solid! Also, since my parents can’t really travel that much anymore, taking my show back home to perform was really the best gift I could have given them and for me to equally receive. My big brother has only seen me perform once before in my career, so having him there – no words will ever describe the immense feeling of love and happiness. The Rocky Show was proper special and I’m thankful for all the support from my family, friends and the Rocky mob and Darumbal Community. 

My Urrwai plays from 29 August at the Hume Bank Butter Factory Theatre for three performances only.

It’s suitable for audiences aged 12 and above.

There are only a small number of tickets left.  Bookings can be made here