Wild Territories: Examining Urban Theatre Projects’ Recent Artist in Residence Theatre-making Work

Ms Celina McEwen,
Ms Alicia Talbot
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Using Baz Kershaw’s framework and concept of ‘performance crisis’, this paper examines the ways in which Back Home, an all male cast theatrical performance about manhood, national identity and colonialisation, devised in residence and dialogue with community members of Blacktown, western Sydney, Australia, was a potentially efficacious theatrical performance. We discuss whether a very local theatrical performance committed to working with specific communities considered at the margins of society by the media and government departments has the potential to effect social change and to shape Australian culture. We argue that Back Home had the potential to be an efficacious theatrical performance as it brought people from a range of walks of lives to witness aspects of a specific community’s culture, to be challenged and offered moments of reflection. We also argue that beyond Kershaw’s potential efficacy, Back Home, proved to have a certain social and political impact on its community consultants and spectators.

Keywords: Australia, Communuity Theatre, Site, Community Participation
Stream: Art in Communities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Wild Territory

Ms Celina McEwen

Research Fellow / Lecturer, Centre for Popular Education, University of Technology, Sydney

Celina undertakes research in adult community education especially projects focusing on Community Cultural Development, Health Promotion and Community Leadership. She is also a Doctorate candidate in the Departments of Performance Studies and Anthropology at the University of Sydney. Her thesis seeks to describe the alteration of the social realm that takes place for participants engaged in community cultural development (CCD) projects in terms of learning and change.

Ms Alicia Talbot

Artistic Director, Urban Theatre Projects

Alicia Talbot has been the Artistic Director of Urban Theatre Projects since 2002 and most recently worked as dramaturg on the Branch Nebula/UTP co-production Plaza Real. For UTP she has co-directed Karaoke Dreams, India@oz.sangam, Mechanix and . In 2002 she directed The Longest Night, and The Cement Garage for Adelaide Festival. Communication with Deborah Pollard for Salamanca Theatre Company (1998), and Mapping Indigo (1996), a series of site specific installations in rural Victoria Prior to UTP, Alicia was artist in residence at High Street Youth Health Service where she directed The Cement Garage, Wild Knights and Female Force. As a performer, most recently Alicia performed with Guillermo Gomez Pena and La Pocha Nostra in Mexico City. In 2002 wrote and performed I Love You at Performance Space. She has also created and performed a number of solo performance works.

Ref: A06P0161