Arts Centre Melbourne Presents BLACK TIES

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Arts Centre Melbourne Presents BLACK TIES

its world premiere season, immersive theatre production BLACK TIES, a co-production between two First Nations theatre companies, will take over The Pavilion at Arts Centre Melbourne from 21 - 29 February. Australia's ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Aotearoa/New Zealand-based Te R?"hia Theatre have come together in what is a rich and rigorous international cultural exchange.

The making of BLACK TIES has been seeded and initiated by Asia TOPA and Arts Centre Melbourne as founding commissioners as a result of the Asia TOPA Creative Lab in an effort to support, develop and commission original works. The work has subsequently been commissioned by the Major Festivals Initiative (MFI).

"When we started out on this journey we wanted to make a show that our Elders, our Aunties and Uncles, in fact all of our community, could enjoy. In BLACK TIES we have spades of that! BLACK TIES celebrates our rich cultures and our connection across the water between our peoples," says John Harvey, BLACK TIES co-writer.

Having already amazed audiences at Sydney Festival and set to dazzle at their upcoming Perth Festival season, this hilarious and heart-warming love story celebrates the coming together of two First Nations families where audiences are the wedding guests!

"On and off stage, this work is a celebration of who we are as Blackfullas and Māoris: the resilience, the humour, the passion, strong family, culture, thriving despite our shared experiences of colonisation," says Rachael Maza, BLACK TIES co-director and Artistic Director of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company.

It was love at first sight when Māori corporate hotshot Hera (Tuakoi Ohia) and Aboriginal consultancy entrepreneur Kane (Mark Coles Smith) locked eyes at a cultural awareness session. Ambitious and career focused, Kane and Hera now have their perfect future all mapped out; there's just one thing they can't control - their families!

With a peerless cast including Uncle Jack Charles, Lisa Maza, Brady Peeti, Tainui Tukiwaho, Lana Garland, Tawhirangi Macpherson, Dalara Williams and Dion Williams, and created by a brilliant team of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori artists, BLACK TIES reimagines the popular wedding rom-com from a distinctively First Nations perspective.

"It is the ultimate act of self-determination for us as First Peoples artists to create theatre at the scale of BLACK TIES for our people, by our people and about what we think is important. We've started a mean party, and we can't wait for everyone to join us," says Tainui Tukiwaho, BLACK TIES Co-Writer and Co-Director and Co-Leader of Te R?"hia Theatre Company.

With a score of Black anthems and wedding classics, rocked out by a live three-piece band, led by Brendon Boney of Microwave Jenny, and featuring Laughton Kora and Mayella Dewis, BLACK TIES will be a wedding to remember!

BLACK TIES is also part of the Asia TOPA Public Program Salon Series on Sunday 23 February from 1 - 2pm at the Common Rooms in Trades Hall. In this behind-the-scenes conversation, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company's Artistic Director Rachael Maza joins Amber Curreen and Tainui Tukiwaho from e R?"hia Theatre Company to reflect on the making of BLACK TIES, a ground-breaking collaboration between two First Nations theatre companies.

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