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Supporting the performance of Noongar language in Hecate
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-09-28, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2021.1943506
Clint Bracknell, Kylie Bracknell, Susan Fenty Studham, Luzita Fereday

As the first adaptation of a complete Shakespearean work presented entirely in one Aboriginal language of Australia, Hecate is a landmark production in Australian theatre. The Noongar language of the southwest of Western Australia is a critically endangered language impacted by colonisation since the early 1800s and suppressed until the 1970s. Working with an all-Noongar cast learning what is by birthright their mother-tongue, the Noongar language, on a full Shakespearean work presents a range of challenges. Consideration of effective rehearsal strategies to support brave spaces for the cast to flourish holistically, both as language learners and performers, was imperative. As most of the cast had limited understanding of spoken Noongar language until working on the production, song functioned as a catalyst for language learning, working as a mnemonic device. Vocal exercises were introduced to empower the performers to articulate freely and to liberate the text. Additionally, the stage manager’s comprehension of Noongar language was important, particularly as the production transferred to the stage. In reflecting on the necessarily unique processes developed for Hecate, this paper offers strategies to support future training of performers, directors, vocal coaches and stage managers engaged in productions that involve Indigenous and/or endangered languages.