Performing Arts Program

The Cunnamulla Dreaming stage performance in 2013 was the culmination of five years of performing arts workshops at Cunnamulla School. The program commenced in 2009 and continues to the present day. 2016 will be the eighth year of the program. The performing arts program in Cunnamulla is a wonderful example of a program that commits to a community and it’s young over a long term period to provide positive outcomes for the kids involved and the community at large. We believe that consistency in community is the key to producing tangible results through ongoing development.


Vision: That the concept of self expression inherent in performing arts education instills a conviction within each students that their voice in the world matters

Mission: To empower the young people of Cunnamulla through performing arts education and instill a sense of self belief in each individual through achievement in performance.

  • To deconstruct the concept of shame
  • To strive for excellence
  • To allow the individual to find value in their own voice
  • To develop confidence in the individual
  • To develop the discipline required to be a performing artist
  • To commit to a performance as an individual and to the group as a whole
  • To develop creativity and imagination
  • To understand the importance of working together and supporting each other


In 2009 Peter Cook and Amy Humphries, through Queensland Theatre Company conducted a ten week artist in residency in the communities of Cunnamulla and Charleville. The residency resulted in two new works: “A mid Cunnamulla Night’s Dream” performed by students at Cunnamulla State School and Pandora’s Box performed by Charleville State School students for their respective communities.



2010 saw a continuation of the program by Queensland Theatre Company with a shorter artist in residence program in the communities of Cunnamulla and Charleville. This time Peter travelled out with workshop facilitator Emma Che Rathke. Although each residency only ran for two weeks, the residency built on the skills developed in 2009 and resulted in smaller performance outcomes for the students.



In 2011 Peter Cook worked in conjunction with The Songroom and The Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) to conduct dance workshops in Cunnamulla. The ACPA students involved in the residency were Dale Woodbridge, Kaylah Tyson and Garret Lyon. The dance component was something that had not been delivered in 2009 and 2010 and the students took the dance classes enthusiastically. It was clear that for the performing arts workshops to continue to engage the students into the future dance had to become a key element of the program along with the continuation of the drama workshops.



Peter Cook and ACPA student Garret Lyon continued the theme of Dance and Drama workshops in Cunnamulla. Garret engaged the students in his hip hop classes, choreographing dances for them to perform at the end of the residency. Peter worked with the students on modern drama texts, giving them a sense of what it was like to rehearse and perform scenes from a play. At the end of the residency a showing was given at the school with the students performing the dances they had worked on with Garret and the scenes they had rehearsed with Peter.



2103 marked five years of the program and it was decided that a bigger project took place to showcase the skills developed by the students over the previous four years. The result was Cunnamulla Dreaming. The script was devised by the students and Peter and the dances were choreographed by Nikki Ashby. Nikki worked with the students not just on hip routines but also contemporary dance and Indigenous Cultural fusion. Cunnamulla Dreaming was a huge step up for the students as performers as they worked over the course of the year to develop and rehearse a show that they would perform for a large community audience. . The result was a professional theatrical production for the whole town and was a huge success. A performing arts tour of Brisbane was also part of the 2013 program. It was important for the students to have real sense of what professional live performance as all about if they were to stage a large performance at the end of the year. The students saw QTC’s Mother Courage which starred an all Indigenous cast and were lucky enough to meet the performers afterward. They also saw a dance show performed by students from ACPA, participated in cultural workshops at ACPA, did a clowning master class with Clint Bolster, and went on a back stage tour of QPAC.



The huge success of Cunnamulla dreaming in 2013 saw a jump in numbers for the program in 2014. It continued in 2014 through separate dance and drama residencies. Bessy and Shaheem Kabamba from MnB entertainment worked with students in the first half of the year on hip hop routines which were performed for the school. Peter Cook and Trent Baker were employed by Bell Shakespeare to run a two week Shakespeare residency which resulted in the students performing Shakespeare’s verse in scenes from A Mid Summer Nights Dream and Romeo and Juliet.



In 2015 the performing arts students were rewarded for the commitment to the program with a performing arts excursion to Sydney. Accommodated at The National Centre for Indigenous Excellence the students saw Les Misérables at the Capitol Theatre and did a backstage tour after the show, went on a tour of NITV studios where they got to practice reading the news off the tele -prompter, did a cultural tour of the rocks and surrounding area, were given a special back stage tour of the Opera House where they also saw the play Bindjareb Pinjarra and went to NAISDA where they saw the NAISDA midyear performance and were lucky enough to do dance workshops with current NAISDA students.



The performing project continues in 2016 with Peter Cook and Bessy Kabamba working with the students on a dace and acting piece which will be performed for the community at the end of year school concert.