Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 15 October 2004
Outside In by Graham Pitts, Oct 15, 2004
Outside In by Graham Pitts MPAC Arts Inc.
Atherton Gardens Housing Estate, Every 30 mins from 6pm-8.30pm, Oct 15 to 23, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Director of Outside In, Graham Pitts, creates an inspired and moving community theatre project inside a public housing estate in Fitzroy.
Outside In is part of a community development project in the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate. The previous project, Inside Out, involved residents of the flats and professional artists in a show at Fitzroy Town Hall.
This project invites non-residents inside four flats in two of the 20 storey high rise blocks. We experience a potted historical version of the evolution of the population since the building of the blocks by Henry Bolte in the 1960s.
Security is the most pressing issue for residents. Providing doormen and encouraging a sense of community are effective ways to create security.
Our small group is guided up lifts, through security doors, down stairwells, past views that trigger vertigo, past building renovations and across the darkened grounds between buildings.
We begin in the 1960s at a mock replication of an immigrants' induction meeting which is run by a John Howard look alike (Stig Wemyss OK) with conservative views of cultures other than Anglo-Aussie. He makes the Chinese women sing Road to Gundagai.
Each flat is designed (Simon Doe) in the style of its period. Our first visit is to a flat representing the 1960s. The walls are plastered with copies of newspapers of the period.
European immigrants lived alongside Australians. An Estonian singer (Ann Kirss OK) is interrupted by the next door Aussie (John Connolly) who complains he can't hear his radio over her singing.
In this flat we are served vodka, view Estonian books and feel the bleakness of these small, cold rooms.
Flat Two is the 1970's when many Vietnamese and Timorese refugees arrived.
Vietnamese singer, Liz Thanh Cao (OK) and The Vietnamese Mothes's Group, sing two poignant songs: My Poor Village and Longing. Others serve chicken soup, spring rolls and bubble tea.
The 1980s saw an influx of refugees from the Middle East and China. A shy and charming Chinese family serves Chinese tea, displays family photos and sings.
In another room, a Kurdistani musician (Fadil Sunar) sings and plays the Saz.
Flat Four houses an installation of taped interviews and is an homage to those who have been denied accommodation or asylum. In partial darkness, a community choir sings, Anything Can Happen to Anyone Anytime. (Musical Director, Jennie Swain)
Outside In is a moving reminder of the need for community and that anything can happen to anyone - anytime.