Conversations With The Dead at Subiaco Arts Centre

Simone Detourbet. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Simone Detourbet. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

WAAPA graduate Simone Detourbet feels fortunate to be cast in her first Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company production, Conversations With The Dead.

“It’s a privilege to be able to tell someone’s story and allow yourself to be immersed in it,” Detourbet said.

“It’s an important story to put out there and hopefully in doing that you challenge people or help them empathise.”

On the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum to amend the Australian Constitution, Conversations With The Dead questions how far Australia has come in the treatment of Aboriginal people in custody since the 1992 Royal Commission.

Directed by James Taylor, the play focuses on young and ambitious Koori man Jack, who was one of the first to investigate deaths in custody.

“Being surrounded by so much death, sadness, sorrow and grief takes a big toll on a person,” Detourbet said.

“It’s a human struggle piece at the core where a man is struggling in his own mind and wrestling with what it is to serve and help other people.

“Being part of this cast is amazing because I’m learning so much about my own culture as well. I’ve struggled with identity because my dad is French and my mum is indigenous.”

The 25-year-old was born in north Queensland and grew up in Darwin, where her mum’s side of the family is from.

She moved to Perth to study Aboriginal theatre and screen performance at WAAPA, where she graduated in February this year.

Detourbet said her mum, who works in government with families and children, had been a great resource to use while preparing for the four roles she has in the production, including wife, auntie and spirit woman.

“It’s nice to be able to have that conversation with someone who understands government and what it is to want to serve people but also take a position that may daunt you to do that,” she said.

“I have an amazing support system and JT (director) gives a lot of creative freedom.”

Although Conversations With The Dead is a play with songs in English and indigenous language, Detourbet said it was not a big musical.

“Indigenous culture has a lot of song and dance, so music is just part of anything we do,” she said.

“It’s not a musical in the sense of Wicked where we’re belting out tunes and there isn’t tap dancing, but it’s definitely got songs that resonate with the journey they’re going through.”


What: Conversations With The Dead

Where: Subiaco Arts Centre

When: May 18 to 27