Welcome to Outpost.

NORPA's Artistic Director Julian Louis introduces this quarterly edition of Outpost...

Restless Giant
by Lindy Hume
presented at NORPA February 2017

Opera, theatre and festival director Lindy Hume, a longtime convert to country living, puts the case for better understanding between arts practitioners and authorities in the metropolitan and regional centres in her new paper, published by Currency Press, Restless Giant: Changing Cultural Values in Regional Australia.
Artists in the regions, she says, are seen in the city as ‘poor cousins’; but this view is badly mistaken and a lost opportunity. Through colourful portraits of artistic innovation in small towns and communities, Hume traces the rise of a more assertive, even radical state of mind. She discards the cosy qualities of backyard creativity described in Lyndon Terracini’s 2007 Platform Paper, A Regional State of Mind, seeing instead the stirrings of a restless giant: a rebellious counter-urban movement ready to make a profound impact on the national culture.
As an artist living in regional NSW, she finds it an ideal place to develop new performance work, and argues that more flow and greater integration between the regional and metropolitan arts ecosystems could, over time, reshape Australia’s cultural identity.

Read more of Lindy's paper.

Read the article Bring it to the Bush in The Australian.
by Patrick Healey
NORPA General Manager

NORPA’s Artistic Director, Julian Louis, has been passionate about working with Bundjalung artists and learning more about Bundjalung culture and community ever since he relocated to the Northern Rivers a decade ago. Over the years NORPA developed a program, Bundjalung Nghari, that directly engaged with local Bundjalung Elders, knowledge holders and artists.

With the establishment of Bundjalung Nghari, there emerged Bundjalung and Indigenous leaders, associate artists, creatives, performers, board members, and staff working at and with NORPA. Indigenous participation is becoming embedded in how the company creates new work as well as the decision making and governance process. The act of inter-cultural exchange has not been a one-way experience at NORPA. It has been a two-way exchange that continues to change, shape and influence the company.

Recently, I called a funder to discuss the Indigenous engagement KPIs. My confusion lay in how to measure engagement working with Bundjalung and Indigenous colleagues on a daily basis. Is my attending the Elders Council meeting to discuss the season program ‘Indigenous engagement’? And, whether I should be counting myself, a man with Indigenous ancestry, in the stats is a fraught question.

Our country is changed and changing, and where else would that be more deeply lived as an experience than in a theatre company of artists inspired to shape contemporary theatre from regional Australia? That does not mean we do not each come from different perspectives, lived experiences or culture, but that we are collectively working out what that means and how it informs our cultural practice and artform.

What we see on the near horizon is an inter-cultural company. We have even asked the question; if that is the case, should we have the Bundjalung Nghari program at all? That is a new question, and while it raises more questions, it also reframes our vision of the future and the direction we are going as a company.

NORPA Associate Director Kirk Page is currently developing two exciting projects - Djurra a new work written by Romaine Moreton and created in consultation with local Bundjalung knowledge keepers that will premiere at NORPA in November and Horse’s Mouth, a collaboration with Beyond Empathy.

Kirk is of Mulandjali, German, Welsh and Badu Island heritage. He studied at NAISDA ( National Aboriginal Islander Development Association ) and has worked with acclaimed companies such as Bangarra Dance Theatre and Legs on the Wall. He has worked as an actor, singer, movement director, teacher, coach, mentor. 
Kirk's experience as a performer ranges from small independent works and children’s theatre to the main stages of festival circuits nationally and internationally. As well as being an accomplished physical performer he has dabbled in TV and film acting and as a movement consultant. He was nominated for a silver Logie for most Outstanding Actor for his role in Redfern Now in 2015. He is now residing in the Northern Rivers NSW.

You recently travelled to Sydney as part of an artist exchange with Critical Path, can you tell us more about this project and the knowledge you brought back with you?

I was lucky enough to participate in a workshop, in February, led by NZ artist Charles Koroneho held at Critical Path, a choreographic centre in Sydney, who happen to be a creative partner of NORPA -  it was wonderful and I loved being a part of a small artist community for the week.

[ More ]
Watch a clip from the first creative development of Horses Mouth at NORPA
Horse’s Mouth is a new dance theatre work with young emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists, inspired by their stories, place and their lived experiences of today.

Exceptional young artists from across regional NSW are bringing their diverse talents and stories to the project. They include NAISDA alumni Johnny Brown, Shae Duncan, Karwin Knox, Ryan Pearson alongside Carmel Vale, Jaymen ‘Jwalk’ Drahm, Emily Roberts-Field and NORPA Associate Artist Mitch King.

In February 2017, these talented emerging artists came together on Bundjalung country for the first creative development for Horse’s Mouth. Over the four-day intensive, they danced, shared stories, laughed and connected, building foundations as a group for the continued development of the work.

The project is led by NORPA Associate Director, Kirk Page. For the first creative development, the team was also joined by associate artists Julian Louis and Jade Dewi.
Horse’s Mouth marks an exciting partnership between two regional companies, NORPA and Beyond Empathy, combining their unique areas of expertise to activate a new space for creative invention.

The collaboration draws on NORPA’s expertise in devising inventive performance works and Beyond Empathy’s expertise in community development, working with disenfranchised groups and artist-led process.

Together, the partnership inspires boldness and innovation and cultivates new voices to emerge.

The first creative development was supported by Beyond Empathy with thanks to Gandel Philanthropy and Arts NSW. 

Video | Ryan Virtue
A short clip of our 2016 Dreamland production
Step into our 2016 production of Dreamland and get a taste of the magic. More about Dreamland here.

Cockfight is on its way to Australia’s leading festival of contemporary dance, Dance Massive in Melbourne this week!

Created by physical theatre company The Farm in association with NORPA and Performing Lines, Cockfight is like a cross between The Office and a cage fight, Australian style.

Julian recently spent time with his fellow core creatives of Cockfight, at The Farm's headquarters in the Gold Coast, putting some final touches on the show for its imminent explosion onto the Dance Massive stage. We cannot recommend this show highly enough if you are in Melbourne. When Cockfight  premiered at NORPA in 2015 it was an instant hit with our audience with many subscribers saying it was their surprise favourite show of the year.

Cockfight at Dance Massive
Arts House 
Meat Market 
24 March - 8.45pm
25 March - 1pm & 8.45pm
26 March - 1pm

Images | Darcy Grant 
We are thrilled to have acclaimed Festival Producer Rhoda Roberts come on board as curator for NAIDOC week in 2017, at NORPA.

Rhoda will curate an engaging multi-platform program of events for Lismore in July. The 2017 National NAIDOC theme Our Languages Matter aims to emphasise and celebrate the unique and essential role that Indigenous languages play in cultural identity. Story and song link people to their land and water, and communicates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, spirituality and rites.

“The NAIDOC at NORPA event is all about cherishing culture and ending the disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australia through cultural experiences and engagement,” says Rhoda "The country is impoverished  when it comes to our interconnected histories. We will build NORPA's First Nations programming, tell the untold stories, empower exchange and grow the celebrations of the local region during NAIDOC week."

"NORPA is increasing audience development and community engagement. Through workshops, and specifically our open forums, conversations and elders talks, we will nurture an experience that highlights diversity, and shares stories that many Australians have not witnessed or heard. This is hands-on engagement that does truly assist in closing the assumptions and the gaps, while planting exchange of knowledge through respect from an Aboriginal perspective."
Please read our past issues of Outpost:

Summer 2017

Spring 2016
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