10 May 2024

Touring fairytale to bring comedy and vital message to Cape

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Sheyan Walker and Shahnee Hunter in I Gut This Feeling

Sheyan Walker and Shahnee Hunter are the stars of I Gut This Feeling, a modern-day fairytale about trusting your instinct, which will tour Cape York during May. Photo: Chisa Hasegawa.

A modern-day fairytale production starring Indigenous actresses is on its way to Cape York to teach children about trusting their gut instinct.

JUTE Theatre Company’s First Nations-led Dare to Dream initiative will bring I Gut This Feeling to the remote community stage, delivering a vital message about trust and staying safe through a clever and comical theatre experience.

The play will be presented to students from grades four to nine in Cooktown, Pormpuraaw and Kowanyama.

“[It’s about] gut instincts, trusting your intuition, and just listening whenever your body feels off or uncomfortable, and how to actually respond to the feelings you might be feeling,” actress Sheyan Walker said.

In going to the remote communities of Cape York, Ms Walker said she felt the significance of representing mob as an Indigenous artist.

“I loved it when we had First Nations artists, performers, and creators come to my school; I felt seen [and] I felt heard,” the actress reflected.

“It just opens up a more empathetic and intimate connection with the people coming to teach you and create with you, so I genuinely hope that when these kids see me rock up, they see themselves rock up in a way.”

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According to the theatre company’s First Nations creative producer Monica Stevens, Dare to Dream breaks from the convention of passive social teaching methods to thoroughly engage and empower young people.

“We have discovered that magic happens when children participate,” she said.

“The rapport in the theatre workshops is genuine and transformative for young people, who may never have had this type of experience in remote and isolated communities.”

Shahnee Hunter, who plays the little girl navigating trust and safety in the production, said she hoped First Nations children would walk away knowing “there is no limit on what you want to be in life”.

“Being creative and being storytellers, it’s us; we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years,” she said.

“To tell kids, ‘keep doing it, keep using your voices, keep using everything, your dance, your storytelling, your art, your music’, it’s just incredible and it’s valuable that we get to be the ones to go and help them share those stories.”

I Gut This Feeling will be in Cooktown from 13-16 May, Pormpuraaw from 20-23 May, and Kowanyama from 27-30 May.

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