Raelene Bruinsma

Vocal Passion - Gigs, Recordings, Press Kits etc...

Restoring Inanna


Thousands of years ago in the parched lands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers – what we now know as Iraq – was a land called Sumer. In Sumer Inanna, goddess of love and sexuality, patroness of music and art, Queen of Heaven and Earth, – and Goddess of War – became, for a time, the most powerful deity in the pantheon.


Restoring Inanna

 Restoring Inanna is a performed response to the question In what ways do the five thousand year old stories and poems of Inanna speak to contemporary women? Replete with effervescent original songs and engaging stories, it began life as PhD in creative arts at Curtin University, Perth, WA and has now been reconstructed into entertaining themed concerts for festivals. Individual songs and stories can also be performed as part of a program of varied performers. 


A beautifully crafted interpretation of the stories of Inanna, woven together with lyrical storytelling, personal experiences and inspired original music to complete the journey. Restoring Inanna should be performed at all Fringe Festivals so that others can enjoy the story as much as I did.                                                        

      – Kristy Auld, Storyteller, School Teacher, Audience Member



Two Restoring Inanna “themed concerts” for festivals:

 (Scroll down for demo clips on each of the stories)

   1. An Invitation to the Wedding

of Inanna and Dumuzi


First performed to an invited audience in Canberra, and then to an international conference on storytelling in Prague, An Invitation to the Wedding of Inanna and Dumuzi explores the amazingly beautiful, sensual and sometimes erotic love poetry of Ancient Sumer.



I had the privilege of being in the audience when Raelene presented “Restoring Inanna” at a conference in Prague, Czech Republic. It was a beautiful work that communicated its messages in clever, creative and ultimately effective ways.  The performance gave me much inspiration for multi-modal research presentations of my own.

- Jennifer Infanti, Postdoctoral Researcher


A brave one-woman show sung with energy and passion.

Jane Cornes, Doris, Foodwriter


The festival version of the performance retains the format of weaving together ancient story, personal anecdote, reflections on comtemporary resonances, original music and spoken word, but prioritises the entertainment factors of the show: good music, and good storytelling. It can be performed solo, or with the enhancement of the instrumental stylings of Neil Steward on guitar and bass.   The Ancient Sumerian love poetry was most likely part of a ritual re-enacting the wedding night of the Inanna and her consort Dumuzi the Shepherd, a lesser deity who Sumerians believed incarnated as the king. The ritual ensured abundance and prosperity for the land and its people.



   2. Stories of Inanna, the Questing Warrior 


Inanna had a fierce side. She was the goddess of love, but she and her Akkadian counterpart Ishtar were also worshipped as a goddess of war. Her symbolic marriage to the king ensured his victories in war, and it was Inanna who led Sumerian  army into battle. A number of stories depict Inanna as warlike. In them she is thought to be capricious, infantile in her temper, and somewhat blood thirsty – a huge contrast her qualities of compassion and love. I do not deny these elements of the stories, but also I see something of a woman’s struggle to be accepted as equal amongst her male colleagues, a struggle which Inanna often wins, but which perhaps takes her a little far from some of what sustained her in the past.

Regardless of Inanna’s motives, she was a quester. This performance tells some of the stories of Inanna in this role. They are stories of the goddess of war, and of growing up. Some are told entirely in (original) song, some use song and music as one element in the storytelling tool kit, and one of the stories is told entirely as spoken word.





Some thoughts on Inanna.


EreshInanna, as a heroine in a series of stories, interests me not only because her strength challenges typical assumptions that in mythologies goddesses, if they exist, are consorts to their more powerful male counterparts, but even more because she appears human in her stories. Thus her exploits and struggles speak to me as those of a human woman. Her stories are part of a collection of Sumerian literature which represents the oldest documented stories we have available to us today. Yet, despite being full of the intrigues, challenges, struggles, issues and even symbols and images that draw us to stories, they remain little known, especially in Australia. I began my research into the stories of Inanna with the hope that she represented a time in which women were valued differently in society, and may thus provide images which help show the way forward. What I found was a much more complex picture. The Inanna I encountered often struggled like me with various forms of patriarchy, sometimes enabling it, sometimes submitting to it without realising she was doing so, and sometimes successfully fighting it. That Inanna was like a mirror which helped me to see certain things about myself better – the mark of all good stories.


I have plans to seek funding for further research and creative work around some of Inanna’s stories, a CD of songs/stories, and to rework the three act show for a more general audience and tour it.

Any funding suggestions/opportunities well-received.

Thank you to Robin Davidson for direction and creative collaboration in devising the shows which were the workshops for the larger work. And thanks to Neil Steward for sound, sound effects and instrumental backing support, and Emily Telfer for lighting design and tech.


Raelene lives in Perth, Australia. She tours & is available for festivals, workshops, & country & interstate events.
Copyright © Raelene Bruinsma. All rights reserved.