Across three weekends in November, a new place-based night of performance, music, film and food is coming to Blacktown. Right Here Right Now will take place in a number of different venues along Main St, Blacktown, the experience is the work of western Sydney-based theatre group Urban Theatre Projects. Involving the whole community and unlike anything else on offer in Sydney, the works will reshape how we view performance in a city.
Last year, UTP staged Home Country, an ambitious program that took over a multi-level carpark in Blacktown. Part of the Sydney festival, the work took audiences on a journey that put the urban cityscape into a new perspective. Right Here Right Now takes things one step further, and intertwines a series of works of performance, installation and film into the fabric of Blacktown’s town centre.
Leading you on this journey will be one of three hosts, Kween G, Nancy Denis and Nitin Vengurlekar. According to artistic director of UTP, Rosie Dennis, over the course of the three and a half hours that you spend together, their aim is to make you fall in love with them.
“I think depending on who ends up being your host,” noted Dennis, “you'll have quite a different night because they are all quite different people, all equally fabulous, but really talented performers.”
The evening starts at 6pm, as the sun begins to set, and each group will weave their way through location including a rooftop carpark, local shops and a vacated Chinese restaurant. Dennis highlighted how in each setting, the works are inextricably tied to their location.
“The site always plays a role, the sounds of the suburb will always play a role, and in some way, because you're so connected to the outside world, there is permission to change the way you relate to that work.”
Don’t think of this as a stereotypical art experience; the evening includes a communal feast of Ethiopian, Afghani or Persian cuisine, and the works on show include Team Trampoline, where acrobatics will be performed on trampolines stitched by students from Rooty Hill High School.
What ties all of the works together, however, is their connection to Blacktown. As Dennis reflected, “all the artists and the collaborators have seen the same things from this place, walked the same streets, heard the same sounds, seen the same street signs, so that's they can all be different facets of what this place is, but because they've been made in this place they'll be connected.”
The works have been developed out of UTP’s satellite hub in partnership with Blacktown Arts, and come at a critical moment in time, before Blacktown’s Main Street is redeveloped by the local council. Bow’s Restaurant, where Roslyn Oades and Bob Scott’s work The Nightline is set, was recently vacated, but with its interior still intact.
“I was walking past this restaurant in August last year,” Dennis recalled, “and I just happened to catch the doors open one day and I just went ‘oh that's a really amazing restaurant. It looks like a film set.’”
Local elder Uncle Wes Marne will share his memories of Blacktown with each group, while Corina Norman-Dadd, Julie Jones and Lexodius Dadd’s film Gulyangarrira Gumada Ngallawan: The Children’s Spirits Live and Remain, looks at the history of the Blacktown Native Institutions where Aboriginal children were removed from their parents and institutionalized. With such reflections on the past, Right here Right Now captures a moment in time, before Blacktown changes again. As Dennis said, “we're catching history, the end of a history.”
Part of the impetus of the whole experience is to spotlight the creative possibilities that are inherent in Blacktown. Team Trampoline, designed by Meg Wilson and Nicole Barakat, allowed local students to be involved with the creative process, and opened a window of possibility.
Commenting on the work and the program as a whole, Dennis suggested, “all of those things start to validate creativity, imagination, the desire to be an artist, and make it real and make it ok, because it is.”
Right Here Right Now runs from November 1 to 17. Book tickets and find out more here: http://www.urbantheatre.com.au/rhrn/