Based on a story by Dimple Bani, Jimi Bani, and co-created with Jason Klarwein
After extraordinary critical acclaim and a season of standing ovations, the Queensland Theatre-production MY NAME IS JIMI will perform in the heart of the region where the story started, at Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island, for three days from Thursday September 14 to Saturday September 16. My Name is Jimi held its world premiere in Cairns on July 11 before the Brisbane season opened on July 22.
In My Name is Jimi, charismatic actor and storyteller Jimi Bani (Mabo, The Straits, Redfern Now) finally tells his story, and that of his family and his place of home – Mabuiag Island, a remote speck in the Torres Strait and the keeper of thousands of years of rich history and culture. Now, with just a few hundred people fanning its flame, the story, colour, characters and history of the Wagadagam culture come to the stage in what is a truly memorable live theatre experience.
It unfolds through music, dance, stand-up and fireside storytelling, with four remarkable generations of one family on the stage - Jimi’s grandmother, mother, son and brothers come together to share incredible yarns of totems, traditions and childhood memories. Jimi performs alongside his son Dmitri, mother Agnes, and grandmother Petharie with his brothers Conwell and Richard Bani.
Jimi Bani worked closely with co-creator the Cairns-born stage powerhouse Jason Klarwein to develop the production. It’s Klarwein who sets the scene best: “The story actually began with Ahdi Dimple Bani, Jimi’s father the 8th Chief of Wagadagam in European recorded history. He passed away during the creating of this play, with Jimi now the bastion of the story, the new keeper of the chord of Wagadagam culture and soon, the 9th Chief.”
“I cannot really recall a play like My Name is Jimi. Sure there are works it can be related to, but what audiences will see, experience, feel and celebrate on stage is only a sliver of what is happening culturally within this extraordinary family. It is truly a unique theatrical experience.”
He said the ability for this family to bridge generational and cultural timelines was constantly surprising. “Sometimes, when rehearsal pauses, out of the corner of my eye I see 15 year old Dmitri Ahwang-Bani (Jimi’s son) put his iPhone down and learn dance or language from his uncles, his grandmother or great-grandmother. I watch the tangible passing of language and culture from several generations to another. I watch this boy, who will soon be a man, grapple with Instagram and cultural lore simultaneously. Like the two things were made to be together.”
“There are few Torres Strait Island-led productions in the Australian theatrical cannon, and even fewer make it to major state theatre companies – we say Esso (thank you) to Queensland Theatre for allowing us to tell our story, and in doing so, pass our traditions to our audiences in the hope they will stand as bastions of our culture beside us,” said Jimi.
My Name is Jimi is dedicated to the memory of Adhi Dimple Bani and those that came before.
*Koeyma Esso (many thanks).