Acclaimed Indigenous actor dies on Scottish theatre tour

Secret River star Ningali Lawford-Wolf dies on tour in Scotland

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We've lost one of Australian theatre's greatest treasures: Sydney Theatre Company.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following article contains an image and the name of a deceased person.

Ningali Lawford-Wolf in The Secret River at Edinburgh International Festival.

Ningali Lawford-Wolf in The Secret River at Edinburgh International Festival.

AUSTRALIAN performer Ningali Lawford-Wolf has died while on tour in Scotland.

The 52-year-old Wangkatjungka woman was in Edinburgh with the Sydney Theatre Company for a stage adaption of Kate Grenville's award-winning book The Secret River.

The actor is best known for starring in films such as Rabbit-Proof Fence and Bran Nue Dae.

"Ningali was an incredibly talented performer as well as a wonderfully caring and thoughtful person. We've lost one of Australian theatre's greatest treasures," the theatre company said in a statement.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a woman who attended The Secret River's final Edinburgh show on Sunday (local time) said the director made an announcement at the beginning of the show that one of the key cast members was gravely ill and that the cast and crew, despite their upset and distress, had taken the decision to go ahead with the performance in her honour.

Ningali was a Wangkatjungka woman born under a tree at Christmas Creek Station in the far north Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Ningali trained as a dancer at the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre, then continued to perform professionally with Bangarra Dance Theatre in Sydney to build an impressive stage and screen career.

She is well known for her films Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002), Bran Nue Dae (2009) and Last Cab to Darwin (2015) and television shows The Circuit (2007 - 2010), 3 Acts of Murder (2009), Little J & Big Cuz (2017) and Mystery Road (2018).

Ningali's theatre roles included her one-woman show Ningali (1994-1996), which toured nationally and internationally and earnt her a Green Room Award for Best Actress and a Fringe First Award for Best New Production, Aliwa for Company B Belvoir (2001), Uncle Vanya (2005) and Jandamarra (2008) both for Black Swan Theatre Company.

Ningali was involved in the development of The Secret River at STC, narrating its return Sydney season and national tour in 2016, Adelaide Festival performances in 2018 and Edinburgh Festival performances in 2019.

Ningali was a mother to Jaden, Rosie, Alexander, William, and Florence, and loving grandmother to Zavia and Mia.

"Ningali's family as well as the cast and crew of The Secret River are understandably very distressed by this news. All of us at STC offer our condolences to Ningali's family and friends," said a theatre spokesperson.

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