Adelaide has a new arts celebrity – Shedrick Yarkpai.
Few people have had a play written about them – let alone had this play produced by a major theatre company in America. But that’s indeed the case with former refugee Shedrick Yarkpai.
Chicago’s famous Tony Award winning Goodman Theatre launches a new play: Objects In The Mirror on 29 April – 4 June. It’s a play about Shedrick’s life so far, describing it as a ‘gripping account of one African refugee’s attempts to find peace by exposing a potentially dangerous lifelong secret.’ Furthermore, Goodman Theatre is flying Shedrick to Chicago for a week to see the play and talk about his experiences as an awareness raising opportunity around the issues facing refugees from war-torn countries.
Shedrick arrived in Adelaide in 2003 from Liberia as a refugee from the civil war. He spent four years in a refugee Camp in Guinea where his dream of working in theatre was born. Once in Australia, he quietly made an impact in the arts here in Adelaide, where he was able to explore his love of theatre and culture. Through the Australian Migrant Resource Centre Arts Program, he participated in a number of projects including Hand In Hand, a photographic project engaging with Indigenous youth. He took the lead acting role in the AMRC’s 2009 ‘Come Out Festival’ Production The Magic Waterhole, an African theatre project combining dance, drama, song, music, comedy, crafts and costume. This production toured around fifty SA schools as well as Mt Gambier, Port Augusta, Brisbane, Woodford Festival Queensland and the Garden of Unearthly Delights at the Fringe.
These early roles jump-started Shedrick in his theatre career as he developed and also took on lead roles with the prestigious SA’s Independent Theatre and with the State Theatre Company of SA. Adding to his several roles in SA feature films are numerous community performances as a compere, singer and arranger of cultural projects, songwriter, and mentor and youth leader for young African performers. The quietly spoken and modest Shedrick is someone who has broken through barriers on many occasions. Now someone is telling his story.
Acclaimed US Playwright, Charles Smith, visited Adelaide in 2015 to work with Independent Theatre Director Rob Croser on one of his plays and this was when he met and heard Shedrick’s story, subsequently turning it into a new production which is being launched at this moment in Chicago USA. The play is titled Object’s In The Mirror. It’s hoped the play will be brought to Adelaide in 2018.