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October 25, 2021

NORPA mourns loss of David Page

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Tibian Wyles and Guy Simon during creative development for Three Brothers at NORPA. Photo Kate Holmes
Tibian Wyles and Guy Simon during creative development for Three Brothers at NORPA. Photo Kate Holmes

Chris Dobney

NORPA’s artistic director Julian Louis says it is too soon to decide whether the company will continue with its planned Indigenous production Three Brothers following the death of his collaborator on the project, David Page.

Best known as the musical director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, David passed away unexpectedly on April 28.

‘David had this ability to make people feel loved and special – and I guess that’s because he was such a special artist himself,’ Julian told Echonetdaily.

He said that members of the company were still coming to terms with David’s death.

‘Today we have the cast of Sugarland here… a play that is touring the country which David co-directed.

‘And then there’s us here at NORPA [who worked with him] so there’s two families grieving… the loss of one of the greatest creatives in our country.

He added the company was ‘in the process of really reviewing what we’re going to do and whether we’ll continue the project without our friend and colleague.’

While the Generator project was still in its early stages, David had paid several trips to Lismore joined the company in workshopping the production.

Rhoda Roberts and Guy Simon. Photo Kate Holmes
Rhoda Roberts and Guy Simon. Photo Kate Holmes

Julian said that the idea for David to join the production came from NORPA board member Rhoda Roberts and that both he and David were keen to work together.

‘I feel like I have known David for a very long time. I’ve always known of David; he’s an amazing performer and musical director – and Rhoda Roberts said wouldn’t David be amazing to work on this.

‘David has family that connects to Bundjalung lands – he was from Beaudesert – and when I talked to him about what we wanted to do he wanted to come out of the city, to reconnect with country and be out here and to work on telling a story.

Julian said he first envisaged David directing the production but David indicated he wanted to compose the music for it, and later said he would like to perform in it.

‘So I said “great!” He really was right across it.

‘And for the last two-and-a-half years we’ve built the starting connection for quite a wonderful collaboration.

‘We sparked really well in the room together and I’m really sad that we never got to make this show together.’

In accordance with NORPA’s request and in keeping with Aboriginal tradition we have not included a photograph of David Page in this story.

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