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Yirra Yaakin exists to share Aboriginal stories. We look to the past to help define the present and pass stories on for the future. Our artists and outcomes will improve the cultural health of all involved and allow space for an Aboriginal voice to be heard.
The company was established in 1993 in response to requests from young Aboriginal people for opportunities to participate in their own youth theatre. Outreach community performance projects were undertaken, using access, participation and equity as the guiding principles, along with a strong focus on staff training and the development of Indigenous arts workers.
Yirra Yaakin, ('Stand Tall' in Noongar language), was incorporated in 1995 and David Milroy appointed as the inaugural Artistic Director and in 1997, Yirra Yaakin launched a professional program of Aboriginal theatre. This led to the company becoming closely involved in artist development, including writers programs and partnership with the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
By 2001 the company was presenting more new work than any other company in WA, with an increasing focus on a touring education programme, presenting theatre and workshops to regional schools and communities. During the period 2004 - 2008, under Executive Producer Sam Cooke, the company also undertook a series of international tours. In late 2008, the Board concluded the company had unintentionally drifted away from its vision of presenting Aboriginal stories to a wide audience and determined to refocus on presenting major theatre projects.