Nepali Times Asian Paints
Voices for peace


She's been blacklisted in Burma, he was recently labelled a supporter of the "People's War" for speaking with a rebel. Together their efforts saved a remote hill tribe in the Thailand-Burma border from forceful displacement from what had been their land for centuries.

They say they're nothing more than ordinary tourists, but what makes performers Julia and Tony so special is that political borders do not stop them from spreading the message of universal humanity. Politics and ideologies do not matter to them, what does is the suffering of the people and the unity of all people, whether from the consumer-driven North or the poverty-ridden South.

They are in Kathmandu now, with their creative outfit Maitreya Productions and Julia's one-woman show TrYbe, a fusion of provocative, original songs, film projections and hypnotic rituals, traces the stories of nine lives across borders. Addressing issues of women-trafficking, human rights and humanity's urgent need to believe in all things good, this solo action-cabaret aims at stimulating consciences and raising awareness about \'Third World' issues. So what else is new, you ask. Unlike similar shows, TrYbe doesn't just preach about things, it sends out a message-that the power of one is sometimes all it takes to influence the future of humanity.

For the past 12 years Julia, once an original Phantom of the Opera cast member and a former Young Australian of the Year semi-finalist, has been performing internationally and producing shows which communicate human concerns to mainstream audiences. Her anthem Free Burma brought her to sing at the Hague Appeal for Peace and the International Peace Asia Concert in Bangkok. Tony is a human rights campaigner, event organiser, and an original member of the Peace Asia committee, which draws different cultures together through music programs and exhibitions to inspire racial harmony.

Julia and Tony have been in Nepal for six months-they came as tourists and stayed on to lobby for the rights of the poor and underprivileged. Last December they organised the first World Freedom Festival in Sarangkot near Pokhara to promote world peace and harmony. The festival featured international artists dedicated to human rights, anti-racism and equality, but it was the exhibitions of local community groups enhancing grassroots awareness and encouraging cultural exchange with foreign visitors that had the greatest impact.

This time around they've chosen Kathmandu as the venue for two days of music (including Robin \'n Looza), performance and film screenings in honour of International Women's Day. Alongside the show, organisations such as KEEP, Gift for Aid and Maiti Nepal will put up stalls for exhibition. "We hope we can raise some money for charities, but this is also about stirring the general public here into action," says Julia.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)