This is a video compile of exchange material from Stage 1 of Secret Places: The Connections Project. In 2011, for 6 weeks, young people from Griffith and Western Sydney, exchanged postcards, objects and video questions and responses. This material then informed performance outcomes that were presented to audiences in both Griffith and Western Sydney.
Starting from Scratch was a playwriting and performance project designed to empower the young people of Deniliquin and Finley by honouring their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, values and stories. Using self generated material creates commitment, energy, ownership and pride from the participants and performances that connect and resonate with local audiences.
The delivery of Starting From Scratch Stage 2 was three fold: First, the in-school weekly workshop program focused on the creation of a collaborative theatre piece, Me and My Place. And finally, Debs, the creative development, rehearsal and performance of a new commission play written by playwright Chris Thompson in response to content generation workshops in Starting from Scratch Stage 1 in 2010. The result was a play that is uniquely Australian, exploring rural young people’s attitudes and ideas of gender, family and community relationships and the process of transitioning to adulthood.
BYO Grown-Up was a series of two-week school-holiday workshops, running through January 2012, in the communities of Hay, Deniliquin and Balranald. Each young participant brought to the workshops at some point an adult who belongs to them in some way; a parent, grandparent, older sibling or other relative, carer, neighbour or friend. The project’s goals were to create original performance works; empower young people as project leaders; foster creative intergenerational relationships and through performances in all three towns – create a community of theatre across the Riverina.
Young people attended youth-only workshop every morning, creating performances based on themes and issues important to them. In the evenings the young people will return to workshops with their chosen adult, taking the lead in incorporating the adults into the work.
Our 3 lead artists had very distinct skills, Bec Cooen a circus and physical theatre artist was based in Balranald, Alex Walker a narrative based theatre maker was based in Deniliquin and Angela Frost, a multi-disciplinary artist was based in Hay. Each group created a work that reflected and responded to the needs, interests and particular qualities of each place. Young people and their families were bused around for the final events, 3 shows in 3 days, across 3 towns!
‘Passing Through’ in Hay, told a story of a young girl getting left behind at a petrol station. ‘Big Shoes and Bad teeth’, in Balranald, involved 40 young performers in a physical theatre and circus performance, and ‘Battle of the B’kaa!’, was based on a true story of rival chicken shops.
‘Each day the young people have brainstormed, devised, developed and written their story and each night they have slotted their grown ups into the roles they have created for them. It has been a brilliant process of empowering the young people through making them the bosses.They even explain the rules and objectives of the games and exercises that we play. It is like this is their territory and creative space and the grown ups have been invited in to share in the joy!
The most remarkable aspect of this program has been the utter delight on the faces of the young people as they see their parents engage in play.’ Alex Walker, Artistic Director, BYO Grownup – Deniliquin.
“BYO Grownup was a fantastic experience because we saw our parents in a different way than we normally do. And the fact that we could tell them what to do was even better! What I learnt from BYO Grownup was to see the humour and style of everyday life that we usually overlook. It also helped me with my social skills and I’ll definitely come out of this workshop with lots of benefits!” Tallulah, young person.
“What I’ve loved about BYO Grownup is having fun and being silly with my kids. I love that they are the ones teaching me and I can see their confidence growing every day. They have been doing little mimes and acting scenarios at home and I feel it has really helped their understanding of storytelling. I wish we had more opportunities like this in Deni.” Kate, Grownup.
On Saturday the 15th October the young people of Hay will show off their extraordinary talents with the final performance of Outback Theatre for Young People’s Alive and Kicking project. Featuring alongside the event will be the launch of a brand new public gallery outside the Hay Post Office and Council Buildings.
Following on from last year’s very successful workshops and performance, Outback Theatre for Young People’s Mandy Field returned to Hay in May and has been working with young people during school hours, afterschool and school holidays at a studio established in a disused shop in Alma St. For over twenty weeks young people aged between 5 and 18 have been exploring theatre, dance, stop-motion animation, film, photography and story development.
Expressed through a variety of art forms, and drawing on dreams and memories, young people have created community and personal histories. Weaving together historic photographs, newspaper articles, interviews with parents and grandparents and the ever present influence of the local landscape.
These works will be presented on Saturday 15th October, starting at 6pm at the Outback Theatre for Young People Creative Space at 390 Alma St.
Devised entirely by the young people of Hay, under the artistic direction of Mandy Field the performance event will feature the Tunnel of Stories interactive Box-Maze, Memories from the Box shadow plays by young people from across the Hay community; short films made with video artist Sam Hoffmann including stop motion animations by Stage 2 & 3 at Hay Public School; Dreamings, stop motion animations made with Seniors from Hay War Memorial High School, Junkyard Hustle, a silent film made with Yr 9/10 drama students at Hay War Memorial High School, with special extra scenes made with hip-hop artist, Nick Power.
OTYP Artistic Director, Mandy Field says, ‘The material produced for the Alive and Kicking Project is both personal and whimsical and often fantastical! It could only have been created by these young people from this town at this time, in that the works have a local signature, they bear the influence of Hay’s truly unique and inspiring local landscape, with its intersecting highways, the mighty Murrumbidgee River and the immense Hay Plain.”
Following the performance the audience will take a short walk to Lachlan St to celebrate the new light box gallery in the walkway outside the Hay Post Office and Council Buildings. The light boxes are a semi-permanent exhibition space provided by the Hay Shire Council, and Better Futures Fund, where young people’s visual art work will be regularly displayed.
The History in the Making exhibition will launch the light box gallery, featuring works made by young people in collaboration with Sydney based artists Rachel Peachey and Paul Mosig.
‘The young people of Hay now have a permanent platform within which to present their artwork publicly,’ said Mandy Field, ‘The Hay Shire Council should be applauded for their ongoing support and advocacy of youth arts!’
The work of these young people has had huge support from the community, the schools and the Hay Shire Council. Zoe Watson, Visual Arts and Photography, Video and Digital Imaging teacher at Hay War Memorial High School says, ‘Our students have responded very positively to the professional tutors who are working with them to develop their skills in these art forms. As a result, there is a positive atmosphere in our school at the moment that we plan to continue with the introduction of light boxes. These light boxes will offer us an opportunity to display works from Visual Arts, Photography, Graphics and Textile classes and showcase the growing talent we have at Hay War Memorial High School.’
‘Mandy, thank you for your expertise and infectious enthusiasm in providing the young people in Hay with an opportunity to express themselves through Outback Theatre. Such an opportunity is a vital component of healthy development of our youth, and, is very well received by Council.’ says Allen Dwyer, General Manager at the Hay Shire Council, ‘The light boxes planned for the main street walkway will give additional life to the heart of the business district as well as provide the opportunity to display the talent of our youth.’