The Mara! Big Band  – Zashto? (“Why?” in Bulgarian)

The Street Theatre
Friday 13 May 2022
115 minutes

Eastern European gypsy brass band meets jazz big band traditions –  the cream of Australia’s jazz and world music present a kaleidoscope of musical styles including brass, piano accordion, percussion and voice.

Barbie spoke to Mara Kiek

The work addresses the experience of migration to Australia and the spectre of incarceration (physical and psychological) that has hovered over each wave of migration in the past 230 years. 

The ‘protagonists’ are a young female convict who was arrested in Ireland at the age of 16 and transported in 1803, and who, we are told, has a family connection to musician Sandy Evans; a Bulgarian migrant and an Iranian refugee.

The libretto is drawn from poetry and texts written by or about them in their native languages (Irish Gaelic, Bulgarian and Farsi) giving a window into their experiences of displacement, hope, longing, despair and resignation in their struggle to forge a new life in this ‘lucky country’.

The work was commissioned by Mara Kiek in 2020, with support from the Australia Council for the Arts and CreateNSW. It features compositions by current and former members of the Mara band – Sandy Evans, Paul Cutlan, Andrew Robson, Tony Gorman, and Llew Kiek.  

Mara! Big Band line-up

  • Mara Kiek – Voice and percussion
  • Llew Kiek – Bouzouki, bağlama, acoustic and electric guitars
  • Sandy Evans – Soprano and tenor saxophones
  • Paul Cutlan – Clarinets and saxophones
  • Lloyd Swanton – Double bass
  • Andrew Robson – Alto and baritone saxophones
  • Sam Golding – Trumpet, tuba, woodwinds
  • James Greening – Pocket trumpet, trombone
  • Gary Daley – Piano accordion
  • Jess Ciampa – Drums and percussion
  • Jenny Dornan – Voice (soprano)
  • Jarnie Birmingham – Voice (alto)

Tickets $42, $37, $29