The cast of The Bulimba Opera, Australia’s first inclusive opera, kicked off their very first show today with a bang.
On until Saturday 7 November at the Judith Wright Centre, The Bulimba Opera is unlike any other opera, comprising of 28 talented artists with diverse ability and impairment.
The show is presented by Blue Roo Theatre Company – a company who provides performers with disabilities, a platform to showcase their talents – and is run in collaboration with Opera Queensland.
It’s the second innovative artistic collaboration between Blue Roo and Opera Queensland, after last year’s performance Song Circle.
Most of the show’s cast are clients of HAND/Centacare Disability Services, which run drama workshops and activities throughout the year, as well as provide support and other services.
Centre Manager for HAND/Centacare Disability Services, Karen Martin says the whole idea began when a group of clients asked her if she could help them become actors.
“We engaged Clark Crystal (Director of the show) as the Drama Director, and he began doing workshops,” she says.
“There have been numerous performances since.”
Karen says opera was chosen for this year’s performance for something different.
“We were looking for ideas for the next performance and opera was suggested as one area to explore,” she says.
“Opera presents new challenges where singing and music of the highest order is required and imparting feeling.”
“It has given the actors the opportunity to develop their character and explore their feelings and make the audience respond emotionally.”
The Bulimba Opera is an epic drama, telling the story of a local pilot who has the important job of carrying documents for General Douglas McCarthy, during the unpredictable times of World War 2.
Karen says it will be a really moving performance.
“You can expect to be moved by the passionate excitement within the cast,” she says.
“Their singing skills will amaze you. You will hear some local history retold in a fun way.”
The programs participants spend a whole year rehearsing for the show. Karen says the performance and rehearsing for it allows them to grow and reach their potential.
“It gives the actors confidence in all areas of their lives and places them in a community valued role, she says.
“Our Director Clark Crystal works within the client’s ability. He liaises with the professionals to come up with how it will all work.”
Needless to say, the cast of the show are very excited to get up on stage and perform, including one Joel Dodemont, who plays a milkman in the show.
Performing “helps me to focus and I like to make people happy,” he says.
And what about pre-show jitters? Not for Joel!
“I only get nervous when people irritate me and those things do not happen when I am performing,” he says.
“I think people will like the way we act.”
The Bulimba Opera is on at The Judith Wright centre until Saturday 7 November. For tickets visit www.judithwrightcentre.com/event/the_bulimba_opera