Aidan Rowlingson, a proud queer Butchulla man from K’gari (Fraser Island), uses his poetry to merge his indigenous and queer culture.
He is performing at the upcoming 5th Biennial Yellamundie Festival supported by Moogahlin Performing Arts together with Sydney Festival and Carriageworks. The festival includes four ground-breaking works from five First Peoples storytellers and two live-panel discussions. DNA spoke with Aidan about the festival.
DNA: Tell us about the story you are sharing in the Yellamundie Festival this year.
Essentially Capricorn is a story of two people falling out of love while discovering who they are and what they want as individuals. The play starts with their breakup and then we slowly learn why they broke up and why they got together in the first place. Circumstances bring them together again and again forcing each of them back into each other’s lives.
I’m sure you could imagine the arguments and fighting this would naturally bring, but at its core Capricorn is a story about love and growth, and how these two things exist together.
Is it autobiographical?
It is autobiographical up to a point. I draw inspiration from events in my life that have shaped my worldview up until this point. So I’ve taken these personal stories of mine and theatricalised them. I’ve taken the stories and made them so dramatic and so comical that it takes the audience along for the ride. But it was important to start from a place of truth.
What does the tradition of storytelling mean to you and where do you see yourself within it?
I come from a long line of storytellers. My family are all storytellers in their own way. They love to spin a yarn. I believe that my ancestors must have been weavers because I love weaving stories.
How does your identity as an LGBTQIA+ person and a Butchulla and Kabi Kabi man intersect?
For me they are one in the same. I directly link my Queerness to my Aboriginality. Queer Aboriginals have been here since the very first sunrise and will be here until the last sunrise. We may be a small group of people, but we are definitely the loudest. We make our voice heard in any crowd.
What are the elements of a great story?
Humanity. I’m interested in the exchange of humanity. For that reason anyone can be a storyteller. You don’t need anything that could be classified as the “elements” of storytelling in the way we have seen. You don’t need a structure or a form or any of that, you don’t even need words to tell a story. If you have humanity people will want to listen.
About the Yellamundie Festival:
The Yellamundie Festival is the only festival in Australia to identify, develop, and present new First People’s stories for stage and has seen 10 featured works go on to full production in Australia.
Each work will undergo two weeks of development workshops before being presented in a festival of public readings, yarns and events in Sydney in January, and Brisbane and Melbourne in February and March 2021.
Further information and tickets available at the Sydney Festival website.