top of page

Unveiling "SILENCE" at the Sydney Opera House: A Bold Exploration of Nationhood and Treaty

Sydney Opera House's next UnWrapped series is set to take audiences on a transformative journey into the heart of Australian identity with SILENCE.

From May 8th to 11th, 2024, theatergoers will have the opportunity to experience this thought-provoking commentary on Australian Nationhood, shedding light on the stories of Blak Australian communities since colonisation.

In this exclusive feature, Theatre Thoughts had the privilege of hearing about the profound themes addressed by SILENCE and the importance of exploring these narratives on stage. Co-founder of Karul Projects, Thomas E.S. Kelly, shares insights into the mission and vision of the company, emphasizing the commitment to increasing First Nations voices, visibility, and stories in the arts. Through SILENCE, Kelly and his team aim to foster dialogue and understanding around this crucial issue.

With aspirations for an international tour, Karul Projects envisions a future where the Treaty yarn never goes silent, inspiring meaningful change and cultural exchange on a global scale.

Don't miss your chance to experience SILENCE at the Sydney Opera House and be part of a transformative theatrical experience that challenges perceptions, will most likely spark crucial dialogue, and celebrates the rich tapestry of Australian identity.

You can read our full Q&A below


SILENCE is described as a commentary on Australian Nationhood, highlighting the stories of Blak Australian communities since colonisation. Can you elaborate on how the piece addresses these themes and why they are important to explore?


Kelly: Treaty is the conversation I want moving forward, but people fear the blak agenda. People fear Treaty and what it could mean, not even understanding what benefits it could bring for everyone, to create an identity for Australia that is grounded in and respects the First Nations history of the land we call home. SILENCE provides an entry point for audiences to see what a Treaty could bring, yes the hard work and pain of acknowledging what has happened to the First Nations, yes putting in place processes to have us at the table, but also then the joy of strengthening two cultures together First Nations Australia and Colonial Australia. We aren’t one and Australia is littered with racism still, because people don’t know how to coexist together. Because they never had to, there’s no agreement, there’s no Treaty.

SILENCE. Provided by Sydney Opera House
SILENCE. Provided by Sydney Opera House

As the co-founder of Karul Projects, can you share with us the mission and vision of the company, particularly in terms of increasing First Nations voices, visibility, and stories in the arts?


Kelly: During the 2023-24 tour SILENCE became an all First Nations cast, which as a First Nations led company was really important for us and the stories we tell. And for pathways in the industry for up and coming First Nations performers to have a self determined company to come up with, sharing our success and our goals.


In the beginning it was a lot of first time collaborations happening, which during the development and premiere developed some really strong relationships which have rolled onto future projects. This work and collaborations with people both on and off stage became really strong which I believe is reflected in the work and story.

Karul Projects present 'SILENCE'
Karul Projects present 'SILENCE'

Can you share any insights into the creative process behind SILENCE, particularly in terms of choreography, storytelling, and incorporating live drumming?


Kelly: Everything works together, it all exists and tells the story together, so it was all created together. I had to always remember that not one part is more important than the other and all need to be respected. So we had the drums from the beginning, I was choreographing and dreaming up rhythms with Jhindu and sometimes the drums led the way and the choreography followed.


Live percussion, through the use of a full drum kit, is representative of the possum skin drums used in my mobs ceremonies. It became a response to people telling me I should use didgeridoo in my work to sound more “authentic”, my mob didn’t originally use didge, we used drums. It then became a representation of the heartbeat of country, and country telling us what needs to be done, guiding us through the story.


As SILENCE is likely to have its final season, what legacy do you hope the production will leave behind, and what impact do you hope it will have on future conversations about Treaty and First Nations representation in the arts?


Kelly: SILENCE is about continuing the conversation about a Treaty. We hope that more then just saying the show was about Treaty the audience are left with a little bit of knowledge about what a Treaty could potentially achieve. SILENCE aims to prompt these conversations so that the Treaty yarn never goes silent.


We’d love to have an international tour, that's our next goal we are working towards with this work.


And for as long as we don’t have a Treaty, SILENCE will never truly be silent.




Produced by BlakDance

Show Times

Wednesday 8 May 2024 7:15pm

Thursday 9 May 2024 7:15pm

Friday 10 May 2024 7:15pm

Saturday 11 May 2024 7:15pm

Standard - $45

Concession* - Australian Senior, Australian Pensioner,

Domestic Students, Children Under 18 - $30

*Must provide valid ID

$8.95 booking fee applies per transaction


Theatre Thoughts Podcast Alternative Logo

Theatre News

bottom of page