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Anita Heiss' 'TIDDAS' set to be a stand out feautre in Sydney Festivals 2024 'Blak Out' series

Joseph Guenzler -

Sydney Festival's 2024 Blak Out promises an abundance of Indigenous talent, with a standout feature being the captivating production 'Tiddas.'

Co-presented by Belvoir St Theatre and Sydney Festival, commissioned and originally produced by La Boite Theatre Company, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Brisbane Festival, the show runs 12-28 January.

In this stage adaptation of the book by Anita Heiss, five enduring friendships, explored by best friends for decades, unravel during a weekend of unexpected revelations.

Directed by Nadine McDonald-Dowd, the 2022 cast, including Louise Brehmer, Shakira Clanton, Chenoa Deemal, Sean Dow, Roxanne McDonald, and Anna McMahon, brings Heiss's narrative to life on the theatrical stage.

Co-directed by Nadine McDonald-Dowd and Roxanne McDonald, some of the 2022 cast, including Louise Brehmer, Sean Dow, Roxanne McDonald, and Anna McMahon, brings Heiss's narrative to life on the theatrical stage.

National Indigenous Times spoke with Dr Heiss, she was approached in November 2019 by La Boite Theatre Company and Ms McDonald-Dowd and Sanja Simic, aiming to champion an Indigenous voice through the new commission.

Nadine McDonald-Dowd and Anita Heiss at the Brisbane opening of Tiddas. (Image: La boite Theatre/Facebook)

"I had known Nadine since my Australia Council days when she was Artistic Director of Koeemba Jdarra and I was the Comms Adviser for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board," Dr Heiss said.

"Nadine had also read a draft of the novel TIDDAS before publication, and I named a character in the novel Nadine... there was a long friendship between us before we got to talking about the play."

Exploring the dynamics of long-term friendsahip and the unexpected challenges that arise, Dr Heiss notes the narrative highlights that we all have ssomething going on in our lives such as emotional challenges, personal fears and diasappointments.

"The point being, that none of us should feel alone, because many, many are going through similar things," she said.

"Human emotions are universal, and the unconditional love and support of our core group of friends is something we should recognise, be thankful for, and turn to when we are struggling."

Though Dr Heiss has lived in Sydney for most of her life, she has found a second home in the Brisbane arts scene through her various collaboraitons.

"My life is firmly rooted in the Brisbane arts scene now, but I lived in Sydney for most of my life, attending Syd Fest events and Belvoir St productions through my 20s, 30s and 40s, so to see my own work on their programs in 2024 is nothing ever have imagined as a young person," she added.

"The opportunity to share the very Brisbane story to local audiences was relevant, but to share my love for Brisbane with Sydney audiences will be something special, because I do believe many don't know the beauty and spirit of the landscape here, particularly around Maiwar."

Dr Heiss is hopeful to continue sharing 'Tiddas' with wider audiences across the nation, noting it is a dream come true.

"To be honest, La Boite was a magical experience for me. Belvoir St and Sydney Festival is a dream come true, I dare not want for more, but of course, I'd love to see the play in Melbourne and other cities.

"And of course, wouldn't a Netflix series be something else? But at this stage there's no other offers."

More information about 'Tiddas' is available online.

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