Black Swan and Yirra Yaakin theatre companies collaborate for Skylab at Studio Underground

Laila Bano Rind (Ellenbrook), Gary Cooper (Mt Lawley), Kyle J Morrison (Maylands) and Alan Little (Bunbury). Picture: Andrew Ritchie d485024
Laila Bano Rind (Ellenbrook), Gary Cooper (Mt Lawley), Kyle J Morrison (Maylands) and Alan Little (Bunbury). Picture: Andrew Ritchie d485024

IT is not very often you hear of a contemporary indigenous sci-fi comedy coming to the stage.

So when one arrives – such as Skylab – you sit up and take notice.

Based on a true story, the play follows the 1979 incident which saw a NASA space station crash near Esperance, scattering debris across the Nullarbor and eastern Goldfields and causing a worldwide sensation.

We see its impact on the community, particularly the Grewar family after a huge piece lands on their property.

But Perth actor Laila Bano Rind, who plays mother Jem, said it was more than a simple retelling of events.

“There’s a lot going on in the play: it’s not just about Skylab falling for no reason – for us, it was sent here for a reason,” she said.

“The message is: ‘What has happened in the past to us – indigenous Australians – in terms of things like the Stolen Generation and loss of identity shouldn’t have such a big impact on us in the present. It won’t go away, but how can you move on forward?

“It’s a painful message: how many people accept and how many people live in the past?”

Black Swan collaborated with Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company for the first time with Skylab.

Rind said she was thrilled to be part of such an important and off-the-wall work.

“Everyone can take something away from this play: there are bits and pieces in there which get you, you feel in the heart,” she said.

“Like how back in the days the idea was that Aboriginal people were animals – that idea of: ‘Let’s just chuck a big bomb in Australia because there are only Aboriginals and kangaroos there’.

“These are some of facts that Melodie Reynolds-Diarra (scriptwriter) has written into the play; not to make it racist, but more for humour.”

A love of Bollywood film led Rind to the stage.

After a year at WAAPA she entered NIDA, Sydney, where she recently graduated.

The multilingual rising star – beginning as an educational officer and sharing her passion for acting, singing and dancing with children in her community – still dreams of one day becoming a Bollywood starletTHE ESSENTIALS

What: Skylab

Where: Studio Underground

When: August 16 to September 2Tickets: tickets.bsstc.com.au