Born and raised in Launceston, but with a multicultural background, Reuben Yakubu has both a deep fascination with local stories, and a unique perspective when it comes to telling them. Reuben is studying his Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Theatre and Performance, at the University of Tasmania’s Inveresk campus, and was recently selected for an emerging writers development program through Australian Plays Transform (APT).
Despite discovering a love of drama and performing arts in high school, Reuben narrowly avoided becoming a scientist instead.
“In theatre circles, you know how there’s always those kids who have been dancing since they were five, and in musicals since they were ten? Yeah, that wasn’t me!
“I didn’t do any of those youth theatre things. I didn’t do any drama until I was in grade seven, because when you start high school they make you do all the subjects on offer.
“Something in it spoke to me very deeply, I just loved it, and I had a really great teacher, and I’ve done it ever since.”
Both of Reuben’s parents are University of Tasmania graduates – his mother studied sociology and his father studied at the Australian Maritime College to become a shipmaster.
“My dad is from Nigeria, he came here specifically to study at the AMC. That’s where he met my mum.
“There was always a presumption that I would go to UTAS as well, I think. It was always the plan. But I had no real idea what I would actually study there.
“So, I initially enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science double degree in 2021. I was studying Environmental Science because I could study it in Launceston and I didn’t want to move to Hobart!
“I soon realised I wasn’t feeling that passion about my Science subjects, but I was really motivated with my Arts subjects. So, in my third year, I switched to full-time Arts, majoring in theatre and performance.”
Reuben’s degree now has a focus on performance skills and experimental productions, fuelling his interest in independent artistic practice, creating his own original works, and performing them.
“I’m looking at independent artistic practice, the ability to create my own original works and perform them, freelance artistry, really.”
Through his studies, he has worked with experienced practitioners like Asher Warren, Gerard Lane, and Jane Woollard and in May this year, he performed in HERE, a devised work that was created by a group of students, including Reuben, and guest director Bagryana Popov.
“That was a 13-week process, about six of us in the class worked on it. And it went well, we had very positive responses.”
APT – Australia’s national play development, publication and licensing organisation – recently announced Reuben as one of the eight participants of this year’s lutruwita Programs.
The program is an opportunity for Tasmanian storytellers of Indigenous and culturally/linguistically diverse backgrounds to work with mentors and industry leaders to develop their storytelling and playwriting skills.
Reuben said he was looking forward to forming connections with other culturally diverse Tasmanians in his field and exploring the way his own background influences his work.
“I have this feeling of being very connected and deeply rooted to Launceston through my mum, but I’m also a product of our very global and internationalised world, which allowed my dad to come halfway across the world to work and study here.
“So, I’ve discovered a deep interest in Tasmanian stories, especially Launceston stories, and the place we live in. That’s the through-line I’m exploring in my work.” A Bachelor of Arts is the ultimate flexible university degree, which can be tailored to pursue a topic you’re passionate about, or branch out into areas you've never had the opportunity to explore.