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Small green turtle inspires Bangarra child’s play

The production is inspired by the green turtle’s significance to Torres Strait Islander people. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

By Eelemarni Close-Brown in Sydney

THE creators of Bangarra’s first production for children hope the tale of a small green turtle named Migi will resonate with kids.

“Waru” is a collaborative effort written by Munaldjali/Nununkul actor Hunter Page-Lochard and his father, long-time Bangarra artistic director Stephen Page.

Best known for starring in ABC fantasy sci-fi series “Cleverman” and subsequent roles in “Les Norton” and “Harrow”, Page-Lochard has enjoyed working with his father.

“It is always fun creating and learning with dad,” Page-Lochard told AAP.

“It can have its ups and downs but I thoroughly enjoy it.”

“Waru” is inspired by the green turtle’s significance in the Torres Strait Islander (Zenadth-kes) totemic system.

The production follows the journey of Migi and her story of survival from the day she hatches on an island to the many challenges she faces during her lifetime including ghost nets, pollution and predators.

Children will be able to participate in and learn about Torres Strait Islander culture, dance, language and the impacts of climate change.

“Dance theatre and theatre allows you to create these imaginative worlds, so if you have a social issue like climate change then you can dress it around this magic world of theatre and it allows a child to embody it,” Page said.

He said the pair have a natural instinct and rhythm when working together.

“I did frustrate Hunter sometimes because I like to joke a lot and he didn’t have much time, so he got mad at me a couple of times but then we refocused,” he said.

The duo aimed to create an interactive 45-minute experience given the target audience for the production is children aged three and up.

“Time was always something that we spoke about and trying to figure out how long does this need to be in order for the kids to follow it and to remember, and that is when we started to come up with ideas of making it quite interactive,” Page-Lochard said.

Like many island environments, the Torres Strait is under serious threat from climate change including rising sea levels eroding the lands and increased sea temperatures.

Human pollution is also impacting the health of marine life.

“Waru – Journey of the small turtle” will play at the Melbourne Arts Centre from September 12 before touring nationally.

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