Ngurra Nyujunggamu - When the World Was Soft

Ngurra Nyujunggamu, When the World Was Soft, is a profoundly important showcase of Yindjibarndi culture, using large-scale puppetry and Yindjibarndi-led storytelling to masterfully weave the story of how the world came to be. These are our Creation Stories and important life lessons, told by us.

The concept of utilising puppets as a medium to transmit Yindjibarndi Stories originated with Lorraine Coppin, the Executive Producer, Cultural and Project Lead, in 2019. Collaboratively, we used muslin, bamboo, and natural fibers to craft puppets, bringing vital narratives to life. We then performed our important stories through our puppets for the opening of our Ganalili Cultural Centre in Roebourne.

Its purpose was to engage the younger generation in a tactile experience while introducing novel audiences to our culture‚ÄĒour¬†lifeline, our identity.¬†It emerged as a conduit to safeguard Yindjibarndi Culture that has endured through oral tradition for more than 65,000 years. Our team were invited to present a performance at the Opening Night of the 2023 Red Earths Arts Festival.

The transition from oral storytelling to puppetry to performing on a larger stage, necessitated a production scale up. Despite operating under challenging circumstances, including restricted borders and a pandemic, we brought in leading creative professionals and secured funding from government and corporate partners. We worked and rehearsed all through the summer, long in to hot Roebourne nights. 

We are so proud of the outcome. The performance at the opening of REAF was an experimental and contemporary odyssean piece of art that traverses time, place and space, Ngurra Nyujunggamu is an endurance of team work across pandemics and politics; a heartfelt legacy project for the world's coming generations, passed down from the times of when the world was soft.  

Warjiwarlu (well done) to everyone who contributed and a huge thanks to all who came down to watch it. Next stop - New York!

Photos courtesy of CakeWalk Media

Presented by: Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation

Creative Team

Executive Producer, Cultural and Project Lead: Lorraine Coppin

Creative Director: Peter Wilson

Assistant Director: Wimiya Woodley

Advising Elders and Knowledge Holders: Judith Coppin, Alice Guiness, Wendy Hubert, Jean Norman, Michael Woodley, Bruce James, Kaye Warrie, Kerri-Anne Churnside, 

Community performers and devisers: Landon Punch, Marietta Hubert, Deekan Woodley, JJ Walker, Aneisha Larry, Curtis Lockyer, Zarley Stephens, Norani Dann, Janine, Anton Woodley, Rosita, Theresa Coppin, Raven, Paige Williams, Laura Woodley, Joy Woodley, CC Williams, RJ Williams, CJ Lockyer, Gina, Jasper Hayes, Deanha Lockyer, Lily-Jo McKay, Dorothy Coppin, Rohannah Hayes, Jada Lockyer, Will Woodley, Kamas Hayes, Everard Woodley.

Invited Guest Performers: Wimiya Woodley with Michael Smith, Sheyan Gunnini Walker, Iya Ware, Ruby Williams, and Rubeun Yorkshire

Script Development: Lorraine Coppin, Michael Woodley, Wimiya Woodley, Peter Wilson

Dramaturgy: Ariana Paganetti

Production Design: Richard Jeziorny

Composition: Ash Gibson Greig with new and archival recordings of Yindjibarndi songs sung by Michael Woodley and other Yindjibarndi Elders. 

Lighting: Lucy Birkinshaw with Stewart Campbell

Projections: Sohan Ariel Hayes 

Choreography: Michael Smith

Puppet Doctor: Sandy McKendrick 

Puppet Construction: Sandy McKendrick, Giovanni (Sanjiva) Marggio, Leon Hendroff, Chloe Flockhard, Matthew McVeigh, Calvin Chee

Stage Management: Sue Fenty

Assistant Stage Management: Jenny Poh, with Sandy McKendrick 

Stage Management Assistance: Deanna Robertson, Jada Lockyer, Lilly-Jo McKay

Production Management: David Filshie

Producers: Mollie Hewitt and Rania Ghandour

Juluwarlu team: Tamara Burrell, Gabby Howlett, Vicki Webb, Helene George

With thanks to: Phil Davies, David Williams, Joan Maddison, Megan Kirwan-Ward, Dimitri Kapetas


Read the Media Release here.