Augusta Supple is responsible for Strategic Initiatives – Western Sydney at Arts NSW and a passionate advocate for the region. A theatre director, producer and writer with national and international experience, she says, “Western Sydney is the most exciting region in Australia – diverse in its landscape, arts and cultural activity – home to a tenth of Australia’s population, third highest region contributing to Australia’s GDP. Western Sydney is the innovative, distinctive, unique crucible of community engagement and internationally connected artists.”
She was pleased when last week Richard Watts reported in Arts Hub that, ” An increased flow of works and ideas between cultural organisations in Sydney’s east and west is helping to unify the once-divided NSW capital.” Arts Hub is an extensive online membership service and publication for the Australian arts community. The headline signalled a change slowly becoming more apparent, “Eastern suburbs provide audience for the West.”
Richard Watts talked with Powerhouse Youth Theatre director Kaz Therese about last year’s production of Jump First – Ask Later at Fairfield. The production was created by six young members of Dauntless Movement Crew (DMC), directed and choreographed by Byron Perry. It tours to Sydney and Melbourne later this year. It will be in The Studio at Sydney Opera House from September 22 to October 2, preceded by two days of creative learning for school students, Years 3 to 12. Photo by Alex Wisser.
The four member directorate of the new National Theatre of Parramatta are themselves representative of east and west. After their challenging first production last month, Swallow by Stef Smith, directed by Kate Champion, Augusta reflected on the role of theatre in society. “. . . Theatre serves many purposes. To impart information, to entertain, to inspire action or compassion in one’s own life. It also helps define identities, create community and asks people to be present, with each other – which in a bombarding world of curled spines and thumbs tapping on screens seems to be more and more of a big ask – or an oasis, depending on how you choose to look at it.”
NToP is well into preparation for their next production Stolen by Jane Harrison directed by Vicki Van Hout, 2-17 June at Riverside Theatres. Stolen tells the stories of five individuals from the Stolen generation. A reading this week launched their Backstage Pass program, a partnership with UTS: University of Technology Sydney which provides an opportunity for high school students to meet with the cast and creative team, and get an industry glimpse into the creative process. Stolen set and costume designer Imogen Ross, above left, unveils her design concepts.
Another leading initiative from western Sydney is the Sydney Sacred Music Festival, already in its sixth year and under the direction of founder Richard Petkovic. Save the date!! It seems a long way ahead, but July 3, at 6pm, Camelot Lounge, Marrickville, will be here before you know it. Sydney Sacred Music Festival is promising a wonderful night of music to raise funds for their 2016 festival, from September 3 to 18. The Festival Fund Raiser – will feature Latin music legend Victor Valdes and many more artists to be announced. The photo above is of the recently formed Friends of Sydney Sacred Music Festival, who were meeting for the first time at an Afternoon Tea on the Silk Road. They are planning a colourful market stall at Addison Road, Marrickville, markets, June 5, and will help out at Camelot Lounge, July 3. They welcome new members, too. Read the festival’s latest newsletter and make contact.
Yet another extraordinary talent from western Sydney is Aanisa Vylet. Drawing on her own life experience, Aanisa created The Girl over many years, which met with great success at its premiere production at this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival. Now she is bringing it to Leichhardt Town Hall, May 27, at 8pm. Catch it if you can – an amazing experience! Maybe you can get there straight after Natalie Wadwell’s all day forum We Run This: A Conversation with Australia’s Independent Arts Sector, as part of Vivid Sydney. It’s worth a try.
And finally, there is a unique offering from North Parramatta Residents Action Group – NPRAG. They are presenting the premiere screening of Zu Neuen Ufern – To New Shores at the Riverside Theatres on Sunday, May 22, at 2pm. It’s a rare black and white German musical drama from 1937 with subtitles. Set in London it tells the story of a woman sent to the Parramatta Female Factory after taking the rap for her fiancés forgery crime. (He’s a cad and ultimately gets his comeuppance!)
Like a plot from a Coen Brothers movie, the making of Third Reich era German film Zu neuen Ufern (To New Shores) is quite a story in itself. Produced by German film studios in 1937, the film was nominated Best Foreign Film at the 1937 Venice Film Festival. Swedish actress Zarah Leander is Gloria, who must now endure the consequences of her wrongful seven year sentencing to the colonies. Filled with betrayal, heartbreak and perseverance, the film embodies the struggle of many women inside the walls of the Parramatta Female Factory. Join NPRAG.org, Professor Carol Liston (Western Sydney University) and James Findlay (University of Sydney) for a talk and screening of this fascinating collision of Parramatta’s colonial past and Germany’s pre-war cultural machine. The film highlights the importance of Parramatta Female Factory’s application for National Heritage Listing and assists with fundraising for the campaign.