A dance of many dimensions whirls around arts and sciences

1-PRG - Gravity and Wonder - Solar EclipseThere is a dance of many dimensions occurring around arts and sciences in the region. In the meantime, thank you to those who responded to the last post. A loss of internet and phone lines for six days and continuing household sickness has delayed follow up, but it will happen.

Reaching for the stars is just one element of a full program of activities for families, students and specialists to accompany the Gravity (and Wonder) exhibition opening at Penrith Regional Gallery, this Saturday, September 3, at 4pm. Topics will range from the impact of gravity on gardens to the glories of the night sky through the Western Sydney University Observatory telescope. Among the images on display will be the 1922 image, above, of a solar eclipse, part of the Museum of Arts and Sciences collection. The exhibition will be opened by Professor Barney Glover, vice-chancellor of Western Sydney University and president of the MAAS Board of Trustees, responsible for the controversial planned move of the Powerhouse Museum from Darling Harbour to Parramatta.

PRG - Powerhouse-Observatory_credit-Prudence-Upton-016-300x300On Sunday, September 11, there will be an adult and family day of exploration in the gallery gardens. Among the attractions will be Sydney Observatory gravity model demonstrations, left, and a conversation with landscape artist and host of ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, Costa Georgiadis, below. Costa’s conversation with David Duncan and Peter Western will take place in the gallery’s beautiful succulent garden. They will discuss the unique and curious elements of gravity and PRG - Gravity and Wonder - costa_large-300x300gardening.

Gravity (and Wonder) will present an all day Gravity Geeks Art + Science Symposium at Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, November 5. Artists and STEM researchers, educators, students and audience will come together in discussion and demonstration. The work of artists who collaborate with scientists in illuminating scientific concepts and related research concerning gravity will be presented.

Managed by Museums and Galleries of NSW and assisted by a Dobell Exhibition Grant, the Gravity (and Wonder) program will include star gazing from Western Sydney University Observatory and from the gallery gardens. Make sure you make at least one visit before the exhibition closes November 27.

On September 4, the National Trust presents a talk Saving the Powerhouse by Kylie Winkworth, heritage consultant and former trustee of the Powerhouse Museum.
The NSW Government proposes to sell and relocate the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta. The trust opposes the sale of the Powerhouse but supports the establishment of a museum at Parramatta. It believes there has been inadequate consultation on the options. Tickets.

Metadata-2-website-bannerIt will be dance and science that combine in three performances at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, from September 15 to 17. Metadata, image above is the new project of one of Australia’s leading contemporary dance companies, De Quincey Co. Metadata continues the company’s cross art form, cross disciplinary and frequent cross cultural explorations. They describe Metadata – pure light, moths and mathematics as an exploration of the latest developments in physics and cosmology. Metadata will be presented by Form Dance and Riverside Theatres and each performance will be followed by an arts-science exchange led by science academics from the University of Sydney. Bookings and information.


International conflict, turmoil and displacement impact on local communities

1-George Gittoes - I WitnessSeveral arts projects are exploring international conflicts and their impact globally and on communities of western Sydney. On Saturday, May 28, at 3pm, Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest launches its Winter Suite of Exhibitions, which all explore themes of conflict, turmoil and displacement. The centrepiece is a touring exhibition developed by Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre. I Witness is the first major survey in Australia of the work of leading Australian artist and filmmaker George Gittoes, above. I Witness presents a chronological journey through Gittoes’ career beginning in 1970 when he co-founded the Yellow House in Potts Point. There are more than 90 works: paintings, drawings, printmaking, and artist diaries from the fields of war, as well as installation and film.

George Gittoes - a work from No Exit AfghanistanGeorge Gittoes will open the exhibition and says, “I believe in art so much that I am prepared to risk my life to do it. I physically go to these places. I also believe an artist can actually see and show things about what’s going on that a paid professional journalist can’t and won’t do, and can show a level of humanity and complexity that they wouldn’t cover on TV”. Conflict zones where he has worked include Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has a special concern for speaking to young people about war and conflict through the medium of film. On Sundays in July, George Gittoes’ documentary films will be shown at 2pm. Above is a work from his 2011 exhibition No Exit from Afghanistan.

Complementing the main exhibition will be a display of works by Norman Hetherington, the creator of television’s Mr Squiggle. Norman Hetherington was a soldier in an entertainment unit during World War II. His daughter Rebecca has curated Heth, an exhibition including some of his pen and ink drawings of the life of a soldier produced while on duty in Northern Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific.

Penrith R Gallery - ZwolowaAlso opening at the gallery on Saturday, May 28, is Zwolowa – A Celebration of Lofa culture and community.  Members of the Western Sydney Liberian Lofa community, Mamre House and visual arts students from Caroline Chisholm College have worked together to create this exhibition revealing the life of Lofa refugees in Australia and celebrating the continuity of their culture. On Sunday, June 5, there will be a special Liberian Beat and Market Day, from 11am to 2pm. Everyone is welcome to all the exhibitions and events and admission is free. The gallery is set in beautiful gardens at 86 River Rd, Emu Plains, where the Winter Suite continues to August 21.

Education is a vital part of this series and of the overall work of Penrith Regional Gallery. The gallery recently announced the recipient of its new 12 month paid education internship program. Penrith is the only gallery in Sydney to offer such an internship and Christine Ghali is the first recipient. She majored in ceramics at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW and completed a Masters of Arts Administration course. Christine’s research paper Is There A Place for Art Education in Western Sydney? An Investigation on Its Importance for the Development of Children and At Risk Youth, is of great interest for the gallery’s education program, where she will be mentored by Naomi McCarthy, the gallery’s education manager.

Penrith R Gallery - Christine GhaliChristine’s own art practice is informed by her cultural heritage as a Coptic Christian and the conflict and persecution they have experienced in their homeland of Egypt. Left is a figure from her  ceramic work Hear No Evil, See No Evil, 2011, which she describes as representative of the suffering of people living in situations of religious, political and cultural intolerance. The hand built ceramics of Buff Raku Trachyte are bandaged with earthen ware slip and partly glazed. She says “Many of the figures have dates of recent attacks inscribed into them as well as the words ‘Lord Have Mercy’ in Arabic, Coptic and English script.”

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, will be on display in Penrith Library throughout the period of the Winter Suite of Exhibitions at the Penrith Regional Gallery. At the same time, Christine Ghali will be developing and delivering a regional youth project in response to the gallery’s winter exhibition suite.

Coming up on June 10, as part of Vivid Ideas 2016 is Pop Culture, Migration and Revolution – Transnational Responses to Injustice. Part conversation, part performance, party and revolution, the event brings together “some of the most exciting artists from the transnational Australian underground hip hop scene, to perform and share conversation with the audience.” Organised by Fairfield’s Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT), Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) and the Religion, State & Society Network (University of Sydney), the event is a lead up to the development of a new activist hip hop musical. To be produced by PYT and ATYP, WATAN will explore the lived experience of young migrant Australian poets and musicians from western Sydney.

Colony - KurinjiThen on June 22, you have the opportunity to experience the next stage of the multi-year, multi-artform project Colony, which is gathering stories across western Sydney and worldwide around the themes of climate change, social division and restricted social freedom. Riverside Theatres and Curiousworks will present an audio-visual concert by Kurinji (Aimee, above). Colony – When the Tide Comes In continues the story of Sam, a young woman living in a 22nd century Australia struggling under the impact of these changes. Colony draws on the largely unknown stories of western Sydney’s multicultural communities and moves across the region’s precolonial past and into its unfolding future. Bookings and information.

Western Sydney’s own stories inspire students and teachers

1-1-Passion Purpose Meaning Flyer - Schools - Blog imageThanks to the support of Dane Ropa, deputy principal of a northern beaches high school, emails were sent last week to almost 200 high school librarians across west and south west Sydney. “Students of creative arts, Australian history, cultural and political studies will find inspiration and vital information in Katherine Knight’s book Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western Sydney (Halstead Press 2013). Since 2014, the stories have continued in her blog – Western Sydney Frontier.”

Dane, who grew up in western Sydney and aims to bring his professional skills back to the region in the future, says “Katherine’s book and blog connect young people to their own, often unknown, cultural history. It clearly shows how they can develop skills to effect change in their community. This deeper understanding of their history helps anchor our talented young people in the fabric of western Sydney and offers a critical chance to impact on the future of the region.”

Dane Ropa 2Dane, left, is a music teacher and former head teacher, faculty of arts, at Cumberland High School. His own leadership and enthusiasm is a great motivator of students and teachers to respond to challenges and help them understand and motivate others. He is coordinator of the NSW Public Schools Millennium Marching Band and a board member of Ars Musica Australis.

Within an hour of sending the email to high school libraries, the first orders were coming in. One teacher librarian responded, “As the theme for Book Week this year is: Australia – Story Country, I think your work would be a perfect match! Would you consider talking to a group of students?” The idea of talking to four groups of Year 11 boys is rapidly taking shape under the title Passion and Purpose – Making a Difference. While the inspiration comes from arts and cultural experience across the region, the application of lessons learned in seeing the big picture, setting goals, developing strategies, maintaining enthusiasm and working as a team has value across unlimited subject areas. Associate Professor Elaine Lally of UTS says exposure to book and blog, “enables students to access sources of their own creativity and leadership potential, through engaging with the powerful stories of personal and professional growth of diverse role models within their home region. Students will hear how other people pursued their passions from a young age, in the face of social, cultural and economic conditions that might not have been the most favorable.”

It’s a challenging time for the arts. Recent savage federal funding cuts are affecting artists of all disciplines and small and medium arts companies across western Sydney. Already they have developed a level of resourcefulness and resilience, which will help them survive, but it will take even more powerful advocacy, creative thinking and commitment to get through.

Message me through my Facebook page – Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western Sydney – or use the Reply button at the end of this post if you would like more information about the book, blog or talks to groups.

Inspired initiatives from western Sydney attract engagement across Sydney

1-Augusta SuppleAugusta 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.”

1-jump first ask laterRichard 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 isNToP - Imogen Ross - Stolen well into preparation for their next production Stolen by Jane Harrison directed by Vicki Van Hout, 2-17 June at Riverside TheatresStolen 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 Syd Sacred Music Fest 16 - Friendsbe 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.

1-Aanisa Vylet - The GirlYet 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!)

NPRAG - German film 1Like 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.

Aboriginal leaders are talking the change and changing the talk

1-IMG_4522An ABC TV report on Sunday, April 17, estimated 1000 people attended the 200th anniversary memorial of the massacre of Aboriginal men, women and children at Appin, April 17, 1816. It was many more than had attended the memorial in any of the last 20 years and a pleasing reassurance to the organisers, led by the descendants of the Dharawal (also Tharawal) people who survived. Dharawal elder Uncle Ivan Wellington, left, explains to an ABC film crew early in the day how he has been working for 30 years to educate people about the consequences of white colonisation for Aboriginal people. He makes frequent school visits and is often amazed how little is known about the history of the conflict and the devastation of his people. He is committed to passing on cultural knowledge to young Aboriginal people, developing their confidence and pride in their ancestry. His work and that of his fellow descendants is clearly bearing fruit, which could be see in the program that followed.

The day began with a free sausage sizzle in the Cataract Dam Recreation Area, supported by Wollondilly, Camden and Campbelltown Councils, community organisations 1-IMG_4531and schools. Aboriginal families gathered – some of Dharawal descent – others more recently arrived from different Aboriginal lands. Yet others were non-Aboriginal like me – there to give support. Later, we all descended to a large site near the wall of the dam, overlooking the spillway into the gorge, where the crowd could be seated in a wide circle for the ceremony. Nor far above, in a rocky, sheltered niche, right, lay the memorial plaque –

The massacre of men, women and children of the Dharawal nation occurred near here on April 17, 1816. Fourteen were counted this day, but the real number will never be known. We acknowledge the impact this had and continues to have on the Aboriginal people of this land. We are deeply sorry. We will remember them. Wing Myamly Reconciliation Group. Sponsored by Wollondilly Council.

A ceremonial program and smoking ceremony led by Uncle Ivan began, watched by special guests including – Dharawal and Gundungurra descendants, Aboriginal elders, the Governor of NSW, General The Honorable David Hurley,  state and federal MPs and the mayors of Wollondilly, Camden and Campbelltown. The Welcome to 1-IMG_4548Country was given by Dharawal descendants Frances Bodkin (in Dharawal language), Uncle Ivan, Glenda Chalker, and Gavin Andrews. Gavin told the story of the massacre from a Dharawal perspective and described Governor Macquarie’s instructions to ‘punish the hostile natives by clearing the country of them entirely’ as effectively giving vigilante groups permission to pursue this instruction to the military with a free hand, which he said they continued to do. Pictured above are Dharawal descendants and musicians Matthew and Ken Doyle accompanying Linda in an evocative dance.

For an illustrated background story to the day and to the massacre see the excellent account by professional historian Dr Stephen Gapps.

Wagana in Canberra for the meetup festival 0416Two other noteworthy events were taking place during the same weekend as remembering the Appin massacre. Young members of Wagana Aboriginal Dancers from Katoomba were participating in the meetup youth dance companies festival in Canberra, left, from April 15 to 17. The company has been evolving over a long period under the leadership of Wiradjuri dancer and choreographer Jo Clancy. She was raised and still lives on Gundungurra and Darug country in the Blue Mountains and the dancers’ consultation with elders is a vital part of their growth in cultural knowledge and confidence in their identity.

The other activity was mentioned in the last blog post. On April 14, Moogahlin Performing Arts, based at Carriageworks, posted on Facebook, “Today we kick off ‘NgAl-Lo-Wah Murrytula (Darug: together we share/enjoy)’ – a walk and cultural reclamation project that was initiated by two Western Sydney Elders, Uncle Wes Marne (93 years old) and Aunty Edna Watson (75 years old). Over the next three days they are taking 14 young people who were nominated by their community to participate along arterial roads/walking tracks of Western Sydney, laying down and recording their knowledge along the way.

Moogahlin Perf Arts - Darug elders 0416“Chookas to our Elders, young people, and the rest of our creative and production team! We hope you stay warm and have a wonderful time, and look forward to the stories you’ll share on your return!” Pictured: Aunty Edna Watson, Uncle Wes Marne, Uncle Allie Watson. Image by James Photographic Services.

There is little doubt that the title of the Fairfield exhibition earlier this year was absolutely timely. Talk the Change/Change the Talk. Although painfully slow, change is occurring in Australian race relations under the sustained leadership of Aboriginal people. On April 18, the Sydney Morning Herald carried an item by lawyer Tim Dick Reconciliation is still not on the horizon. Next day, his opinion was refuted by a letter writer Rivers of reconciliation running towards true healing. There is substance in both positions, but the scales of justice are tilting towards Aboriginal people and more Australians appear to be responding.



Two new professional theatre companies launch with education programs, too

NToP - SwallowHere is an opportunity too good to refuse! To celebrate the launch of their inaugural production, the National Theatre of Parramatta is offering tickets at a special price to industry colleagues and to readers of this blog.

Swallow, written by Olivier award winning playwright Stef Smith opens at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, on Saturday, April 23, 2.30pm and 7.30pm, with a preview performance, Thursday, April 21. Swallow explores questions of identity, heartbreak and hope with a vivid and poetic intensity and received rave reviews for its world premiere season at Edinburgh Festival in 2015. A five star review described Swallow as “A compelling and bitter-sweet snapshot of the lives of three women in transition.” The Australian premiere production is directed by founder and former artistic director of Force Majeure and Helpmann Award winner, Kate Champion.

Australia’s newest theatre company, National Theatre of Parramatta, is the resident theatre company at Riverside and has developed with the guidance and support of Riverside’s director, Robert Love. Its driving aim is to reflect the true diversity of Australian society today and to tell its rich and complex stories. Western Sydney lives through the daily experience of negotiating cultural difference, of needing to listen and learn – hence this blog’s title Western Sydney Frontier. So many of the region’s individual stories are unknown to a wider national audience and NToP is determined to create bold, contemporary productions inspired by local communities, while offering training and education programs to young people from western Sydney.

While NToP directors develop the foundations for this work, they have chosen to launch the company with Swallow, a play in the spirit of the qualities they wish to nurture. With a stellar cast of just three, Swallow tells the stories of Rebecca (Megan Drury), Sam (Valerie Berry) and Anna (Luisa Hastings Edge) who are simultaneously at the tipping point between self-destruction and self-acceptance. Sharing similar states of vulnerability and defiance, they influence each other’s lives in unforeseeable ways while connecting their fates and ability to re-enter the outside world. A story about survival, the company says Swallow is tragic yet comic, complex yet simple and ugly yet beautiful.

Industry and Blog Reader Offer
$29.00 ticket only
Performances: Thursday 21st April preview performance / Saturday 23rd April 2.30pm and 7.30pm performances. Bookings: available online, at the counter and over the phone – 8839 3399. Riverside Theatres – Corner Church and Market Streets Parramatta NSW 2150. Swallow continues to April 30.

Taking WSO-May-Logo-535x354centre stage at The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith, next month will be a new young company Western Sydney Opera. The brainchild of Kingswood lyric tenor, Lorenzo Rositano, Western Sydney Opera won start up financial support from Penrith Council after Lorenzo’s successful production of La Boheme at The Joan last September. With three qualifications from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and almost a year of touring and performing in Italy in 2014, he developed a commitment to making Western Sydney Opera an educational project as well as an artistic venture.

WSO - Lorenzo RositanoTwenty eight year old Lorenzo’s early training was at Penrith Conservatorium of Music. In 2006 he was selected by the Australian Olympic Committee to perform the Australian national anthem at the Winter Olympics Games in Turin, Italy. He also graduated from the Talent Development Project, directed by Mary Lopez, the former director of the Schools Spectacular.

Western Sydney Opera will be launched at The Joan, with a Mothers Day concert, Saturday, May 7, at 7pm. The young cast of opera’s emerging artists will present a program of operatic highlights and songs from operetta, musical theatre and much more. Bookings and more information.

Ten years on, western Sydney inspires two great leaps in story telling

Not just one, but two professional artistic companies spawned by western Sydney experience are taking a great leap forward after 10 years of development. The first is CuriousWorks and the second is Sport for Jove.

CuriousWorks - ColonyIn a cavernous space at Carriageworks in Redfern, CuriousWorks launched the first stage of its ambitious story telling project Colony, on Tuesday, March 8, with a live audiovisual concert. Artistic director, multimedia artist and musician, S Shakthidharan supported the haunting vocals of fellow artist Aimee Falzon as they introduced Colony. “You can stand on a street corner in western Sydney and see the whole world go by,” Shakti said. This experience was the starting point for an epic narrative Shakti was given the chance to develop when he became artistic associate at Carriageworks in 2013. Colony will gather stories from world wide, beginning with the links across generations of people who have migrated to western Sydney. Much of the communication will be through image, movement and sound to transcend the barriers of language. The project will grow during the next few years as a response to mass migrations occurring throughout the world and an exploration of ways to synthesise traditional wisdom with contemporary culture. Western Sydney is also home to a significant population of indigenous Australians and their stories will form a vital component of the whole project.

NT of P S. ShakthidharanShakti, right has spent the last decade since graduation assembling a team of talented people who share his philosophy and commitment to provide communities with the tools to tell their own stories “powerfully and sustainably”. It is a commitment that has taken them to work with marginalised communities north of Melbourne, in western Sydney and in remote Western Australia. Individually and collectively they work with professional artists in local and international settings, challenging and extending their own skills and work. Simultaneously, they work respectfully with community groups over long periods of time until they are sufficiently trained and equipped to operate independently to produce and tell their own stories and generate their own financial support.. CuriousWorks combines art, education and technology to deliver communities the ability to create unique, acclaimed artistic product that celebrates their cultures.

Their goals seem to correspond with the opinion of Aboriginal lawyer, academic, writer and filmmaker Larissa Behrendt in her new book Finding Eliza – Power and Colonial Storytelling – “History, then, is no longer just one romanticised story – it becomes a series of competing narratives, brought to life by different groups whose experiences are diverse and often challenge the dominant story that a country seeks to tell itself about its history.”

In the course of their community work in western Sydney in the past few years CuriousWorks has developed a team of young creatives, whose interest and commitment has turned them into leaders training and supporting the next round of story tellers. Among them is Guido Gonzales, who co-directed the film Riz, which had its world premiere at last year’s Sydney Film Festival.

CuriousWorks - connecting to CountryShakti’s background is Hindu and for him there is a natural empathy with the spiritual world of Aboriginal or First Nations people. Among CuriousWorks’ current projects is Connecting to Country – a five-year collaboration established between CuriousWorks and Moogahlin Performing Arts guided by esteemed elders and community partnerships, such as FUNPARK based in Bidwill and the Mt Druitt Reconciliation Group. Beginning in January, they worked on their first filmmaking project, above. Next month, young people will take part in an 80km walk, from the lower Blue Mountains to Blacktown, known as NgAl Lo Wah Murrytula (Darug for ‘together we share and enjoy’). The walk has been initiated by elders Uncle Wes Marne (93 years old) and Aunty Edna Watson (75) as a means of sharing their historical, environmental and cultural knowledge of the western Sydney landscape.

The Colony “universe” is being created over eight days, from 8-15 March 2016, and begins with the epic themes of destruction and creation. The first three chapters of the first story – When The Tide Comes In – were shown at the launch, with more to be released during the current eight days. In an atmosphere of menace and apprehension, we find ourselves in a post climate change Sydney of the 22nd century. A young woman must carry out an unusual mission in order to learn the truth of her family history. As a result, the story will move to and fro between the future and precolonial times. It is a multifaceted project with global reach combining work to be created along the way while drawing together many components of stories already produced. There will be live performances at intervals in sites across western Sydney, Australia and internationally. Click here and stay tuned.

SfJ - Shakespeare Carnival logoAlthough very different in orientation, award winning company Sport for Jove also emerged from the diverse communities of western Sydney almost 10 years ago. Sport for Jove is now expanding into regional NSW. Their new Shakespeare Carnival is a NSW state-wide event that encourages students to get up and get active creating their own theatrical worlds by designing sets and costumes, composing music, choreographing dances and acting scenes that are inspired by the work of William Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare Carnival, they say, is a great opportunity for students to challenge themselves, learn new ideas, gain confidence and social skills, and improve literacy as they bring Shakespeare’s inspiring characters to life. The annual event is open to all NSW high school students, and participating schools will be aided and supported by Sport For Jove to hold their own Shakespeare Carnival. Schools will then select representatives to join other schools’ selected students at a Regional Carnival, which will lead into
a State Carnival, to be held at the Seymour Centre in Sydney in June 2016, where the top
performers will be offered opportunities to develop their knowledge of Shakespeare and theatre skills working alongside trained professional theatre makers and compete for a range of prizes.

The Shakespeare Carnival is a continuation of Sport For Jove’s education program. Click here for more information.