Cenacolo Secondo (The second Last Supper)
A showing of a creative development process undertaken in residence at the Performance Space
Milan, Italy, Passover 2033
A perfectly stage-managed corporate event beneath the gaze of da Vinci's Cenacolo begins unravelling early when due to an error in the Italian postal system the invitations to the Apostles were sent to Australians.
Both Judas and Jesus, the guy with the script, are notably absent.
Treachery lurks in the wings.
Of concern in The second Last Supper is, among other things, the question of politics, and the ability of performance to represent this. The notion of a "political theatre" has become associated with performance that is often depressingly didactic and naively simplistic. This need not necessarily be the case. Is it not possible that performance can be simultaneously aesthetically engaging and politically driven, can represent and speak of the experience of living here now, in this place, in this world? We aim to create a work that is pleasurable to the spectator and communicates effectively a real experience by real people in a real world (a political act - the personal is still political. We haven't forgotten this.)
All that said, I admit that we have become a trifle distracted from this purpose by our own personal obsessions, by the food and certainly by the wine. But aren't these the places one hides when one is disenfranchised by those who run the world?
In this show we eat, drink, and together wait for the end of the world. That's fun too.
And so this is what we came up with. Enjoy, and make sure you have a drink.
- David Williams, version 1.0, April 2000
22nd April 2000
A performance exploring Senate testimony around SIEV X
Senator Mason: In the famous words of Jack Nicholson in the film A Few Good Men, "You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!"
(Senate Hansard, 23 October 2002, page 5773)
SIEV X is the acronym for ‘Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X’ (the X stands for ‘unknown’). It is the name given to the unknown the dilapidated, criminally overloaded Indonesian fishing boat that sank en route to Australia’s Christmas Island on 19 October 2001 at the height of the massive Australian military border protection operation at the centre of the Federal Government's re-election campaign. 353 people drowned - 146 children, 142 women and 65 men.
Four years after this disaster, the troubling circumstances surrounding the sinking remain unsolved, including the possibility of direct Australian involvement through ongoing "disruption activities" that included sinking boats. These questions persist. New evidence, both through investigative journalism and answers to Senate Questions on Notice, have proved that significant parts of the evidence given to the CMI Senate inquiry were inaccurate or deliberately misleading, and several of the Senators have been agitating for a judicial inquiry to bring out the truth. But can we handle the truth?
This work-in-progress performance begins where version 1.0's CMI (A Certain Maritime Incident) concludes, charting the unfinished business of Australia's disastrous refugee policies. Australia has unfinished business with SIEV X. Unfinished, unwanted, and vitally important business. This performance uses edited proceedings of the Australian Senate pertaining to SIEV X as a springboard to investigate the act of public speech, and to interrogate the ways in which the language of power paralyses the body's capacity for outrage. This project explores visceral and verbal acts - speech as acts and acts as speech, locating strategies to resist the exhaustion that politician-speak produces. Part epic tragedy, part documentary performance, and part civic archaeology, this is a deeply disturbing rollercoaster ride through the Australian body politic. We may not like what this public language tells us about ourselves.
This performance cannot encompass the range of disturbing questions and concerns surrounding SIEV X, nor is this performance a piece of investigative journalism. This performance instead aims to undertake memory work, to intervene into the consciousness of our audience and state unequivocally that this catastrophic happening must be remembered, despite its discomfort, despite our official record keepers' desire to erase, or at least displace this story. In the end, this is the work that we made following this evidence. There are many other possible works that could be made, and we wait for these works with great anticipation. In these times of public forgetting and cultural amnesia, we need as remembering as possible.
Further reading and research:
http://www.sievx.com SIEV X online archive
http://www.aph.gov.au Australian Parliament House site, follow the links to Senate Hansard
Tony Kevin (2004) A Certain Maritime Incident: The Sinking of SIEV X. Melbourne: Scribe Publications.
David Marr and Marian Wilkinson (2003) Dark Victory. Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.
21 March 2005
A work in progress showing for Scratch Night #2
The Studio, Sydney Opera House
A workshop performance for Wharf 2 Loud
Trevor Flugge has suitcases full of cash, guns and no shirt. Why? He’s not sure because he can’t remember - plus he’s deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other.
Almost $300 million in bribes was paid to a regime potentially harbouring weapons of mass destruction. Why? Ministers and executives all struggled to remember exactly what went on, but no one’s too sure; as Commissioner Cole reported: ‘No one asked, “What is the right thing to do?”’.
With a mere eight days of rehearsals, the 8500 pages of transcript and 76 days of the Cole Inquiry’s public hearings will be transformed in to innovative, accessible, entertaining, visionary theatre. The team behind CMI and The Wages of Spin (version 1.0) will again construct one of their unique shows, making-over defiantly non-theatrical documents into provocative political theatre. It’s time to kickback the kickbacks.
Wharf 2, Sydney Theatre Company
Certain Australian Companies was a workshop development which later became the full length work Deeply Offensive and Utterly Untrue.
A performance investigation of domestic violence and therapy
â€œ[In therapy environments with domestic abusers, experience] has led us [â€¦] to a position which is a difficult one for a psychotherapist â€“ put simply it is that â€˜you can never trust an abuserâ€™. This is not to say that they are insincere (although they often are) but that the denial is simply too strong and insidious to assume that you are getting the truth.â€
Adam Edward Jukes, Men Who Batter Women (1999), page x
This was the first stage developmental for This Kind of Ruckus. It examined the frightening intersections of the private home and the criminal justice system. Taking as source material transcripts of interviews with domestic violence offenders and their victims, Hurt and damage relocates version 1.0â€™s documentary performance practice from the public realm of politics into the wreckage of domestic relationships and the institutional practices that attempt to make sense of this wreckage. In the process version 1.0 will examine through performance both the nature of the hurt inflicted and the attempts to repair the damage.
Who are the perpetrators of this violence, and who are their victims? Who are their counsellors and therapists, and what are the agendas and strategies that animate this process? What are the politics of the personal in these intimate and abusive relationships, and what are the politics of representation with regards to such relationships? And finally, what are the representational limits of performance in re-presenting documentary material such as this? What is the place of theatre in the face of this hurt and damage? During this creative development, version 1.0 will address these questions in relation to the interview transcripts, laying the groundwork for further development of the work to a fully staged production, envisaged for early 2009.
Creative development residency: April 21- May 16, Performance Space @ Carriage Works
The 7arakat or Harakat Project is an initiative supported by the Australia Council for the Arts through the Cultural Leadership Development Grant. Led by grant recipient Dr. Rand Hazou, the 7arakat Project seeks to develop a series of theatre‐related initiatives between Australia and Palestine. The title 7arakat is a phonetic transliteration of the Arabic word ‘␣arakāt’ or ‘movements’ in which the first Arabic letter ‘␣ā’ or ‘ح’ is substituted by the symbol ‘7’. The idea of ‘movements’ forms the conceptual inspiration underpinning the project. 7arakat is about finding innovative approaches to intercultural performance practice to create works that move audiences emotionally and experientially.
One of the goals of the 7arakat Project is the facilitation of a new work of Documentary Theatre involving Palestinian and Australian theatre‐makers. In recent years documentary theatre has become an increasingly popular method for rights advocates to highlight the plight of the Palestinian struggle for self‐determination.
About the 7arakat Artists
7arakat Project Leader: Dr. Rand Hazou
Rand Hazou was born is a Palestinian/Australian theatre academic and facilitator. In 2004 Rand was commissioned by the UNDP to travel to the Occupied Territories in Palestine to work as a theatre consultant running workshops for Palestinian youths. In 2009 Rand was awarded a PhD in Theatre and Drama at La Trobe University. His research on asylum seeker and refugee theatre has been published in several peer‐reviewed journals. Rand is a recipient of the Australia Council's Cultural Leadership Grant: Skills Development. He has recently completed an internship with Al‐Kasaba Theater in Palestine, and is currently undertaking a Mentorship with Multicultural Arts Victoria.
Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour
General Director of the Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Center for Children (Bethleham) and President of the Palestinian Theatre League. Afdelfattah received a PhD in Biological and Medical Engineering from Paris Nord University, France. He was a founding member of the Paris Nord Theatre, where he was responsible for co‐authoring and directing numerous productions. Returning to Palestine in 1998, he founded the Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre and developed the centre’s strategy of ‘Beautiful Resistance’ against the ugliness and violance of occupation by offering youth non‐violent forms of artistic self‐expression and capacity‐building through theatre, dance, arts, visual arts, and educational initiatives. He is an actor, author and director, and has been instrumental in delivering several productions and international tours for Alrowwad including We are the Children of the Camp, and Blame it on the Wolf. Abdelfattah is a recipient of the Ashoka Fellowship for social enterpreneurship. The Alrowwad Cultural and Theatre Centre for Children is located in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, Palestine. For more information visit: http://www.alrowwad‐acts.ps/eindex.php
Artistic Director and founding member of Ashtar Theatre, a company specialising in Forum Theatre techniques and devising docuemtnary performance with Palestinian youth. Iman is an actor, director and dramaturg. Founding member of Ashtar Theatre, Iman has been instrumental in direccting and devising several productions for the company including The Story of Said Al‐Mas’oud and Last Supper in Palestine for the Dancing on the Edge Festival, Holland. In 2010, Iman Aoun developed The Gaza Mono‐Logues, a docuemntary theatre performance based on the personal stories of a group of children from Gaza which was distributed to partnter agencies and theatre companies around the world and performed simultaneously on 17 October 2010 by over 1500 youngsters in more than 50 cities in 36 countries all over the world.For more information about The Gaza Mon‐Logues, visit: http://www.thegazamonologues.com
Performer, Director and Theatre‐Scholar. Samer is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington, Seattle, were he is completing a doctorate on Palestinian Theatre. He obtained his MFA in directing from the University of Calgary, his undergraduate B.A. from the University of Ottawa, and has trained with SITI company members in Suzuki and Viewpoints Training. He was Artistic Director and founding member of Vision Theatre in Ottawa. His many directing credits include Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey, Carol Shields’ Departures and Arrivals, Noel Coward’s Private Lives, and David Auburn’s Proof, and a reading of John Herbert’s Fortune and Men’s Eyes for the Calgary Opera. More recently he directed a production of locally written radio dramas at Shabab.net radio in Yemen, has offered an UNRWA supported theatre class in Jordan, and has led an advanced performance workshop at the Palestine National Theatre (PNT) in Jerusalem. He has recently directed a production of A Midsummer Nights Dream for the Al‐Kasaba Theatre in Ramallah, Palestine, and the subsequent tour of the production to Essin, Germany, as part of an international Shakespeare Festival.
Performer, Drama Therapist and Movement Coach. Petra received her MA in Drama and Movement Therapy from The Central School of Speech and Drama, London, and holds a B.A in Journalism and Mass Communication from Al Yarmouk University, Jordan. As a performer she has worked with the Al‐ Hakawati Theatre and the First Ramallah Troup, Ramallah, and was employed as Assistant Director on the joint‐production of Hussein Barghouthi’s Sahat Alward. She has worked as a Drama and Movement Therapist with The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp, and is currently employed as Movement Instructor by Al‐ Kasaba Theatre, Ramallah. For Al‐Kasaba Petra has assisted on several productions in her capacity as Movement Coach and Choreographer including Antigone (2009) and most recently A Midsummer Nights Dream (2011), which toured internationally to Essen, Germany.
version 1.0 artists: