Local Fairfield artist, Maria Tran will be in residence at PYT for the year as our 2018 Associate Artist. Maria is a martial artist, actor, filmmaker & screen fight coordinator. Maria will run her film company Phoenix Eye from our venue, and collaborate on a series of PYT projects and programs throughout the year.
Maria Tran is the recipient of the 2018 Create NSW Western Sydney Artist Fellowship
Everybody’s body is unique. Everybody’s body is poetic. We all have the capacity to move to a personal song that is within us.
Thanks to Powerhouse Youth Theatre and Woodville Alliance, I’ve had the pleasure of working with collaborators Martin Fox (film), Michael Toisuta (sound) and six emerging performers investigating film-making, movement and dance. My work over the last 20 years has centered around dance, performance making, mentoring and teaching. I work with professional and emerging dancers and actors, and with people from all kinds of communities who aren’t necessarily in the performing arts.
The performers from Woodville are a group of folk living with learning difficulties. I find language difficult when writing about ‘difference’. All people are different from each other and each of these people from Woodville are as different from each other as much as anyone else. And of course, we all share so much that is the same: passion, curiosity, humor, aspiration, and fulfillment.
With the Woodville group last year, we made a project called Being Moved. This project was a series of workshops exploring ideas around dance and photography and we collaborated with renowned performance photographer Heidrun Lohr. The result was an exquisite A4 landscape book filled with photographs capturing moments from the process.
Being Moved was an awesome ‘get to know each other project’ and in 2016 we have come to work together again and make this dance film entitled Dance Diaries: Woodville. Throughout November and December we have been meeting regularly in the PYT studio developing dance material and shooting the film as we go along.
We wanted to make a dance film responding to notions of home and what home might mean to us. The performers aren’t too keen to speak. It just isn’t their primary mode of communication. So we made colored houses as props, bought squares of fake grass, put it all in the studio and we went from there. That all said, one day I asked Joanne what was her favorite thing in her house. She peered into my eyes for the longest time, sifting through her thoughts and then declared ‘bathtub’. Bathtub! I’d never have guessed…
The most important things I value in a process are not the ‘dance moves’. The most important things are Trust, Respect and Time. So, there is the doing – such as learning dance techniques or performing for camera. Then there’s the feeling; which grows out of Trust, Respect and spending Time together ‘doing’ the stuff. When these three principles are in the room, then you can float the boat that is creativity.
In the workshop process, I’ve observed and listened, weighing up the balance between doing and rest. Sometimes we look at the film rushes together. Or eat lunch together. Some people on some days have more energy and so they might do a bit of solo or duet work whilst others rest and watch. The watching is important.
There are times for spatial and physical challenges too – such as learning and remembering new dance sequences or floor patterns. Every session we also do ‘free dancing’, one person at a time, with everyone else watching. We use a broad range of music. We notice how the music affects how we move and also the feeling of the mood in the room. Once, Karoleen danced fast disco to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. It was very evocative.
Working with the Woodville dancers is an immensely rewarding experience. Personally, I learn a great deal about my core values and about teaching and facilitating processes. Not only with people living with disabilities but with all people.
When I was 14 years old I was sent to a special needs school for 2 weeks to do a work experience placement. At first I was quite overwhelmed and my senses were overloaded. I was drawn to one young lady who couldn’t speak at all. She was blind and walked with a cane and was negotiating a number of physical disabilities. I hung around her a lot, not directly engaging but just being in close proximity. One day we went to a TAFE college to learn about woodwork. The others in our group went off to the canteen for lunch and it was just me and her in the woodwork room finishing up. When we went to go, I realised I didn’t know where the canteen was. I felt terribly responsible for this young woman but it was she who guided us to the canteen, which was a long way down a series of corridors and stairs. Something clicked so fundamentally then and there for me. That was, to never to assume anything about anybody – anybody living with disability, or not living with a disability. I mention this story as I think it played a key part in the way I aspire to engage with people in every aspect of my life.
At the heart of it, I’m searching to processes that I can set up in which each performer I encounter in life, can realize that their expression and specific talents are just as valuable as anyone one else’s. From my personal experience, a great deal about becoming an artist is first and foremost about perceiving yourself as an artist. That takes time for anyone of us.
Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT) send our support and respect to the companies recently cut by the Australia Council as result of cuts made to Council by the Federal Government. PYT is very grateful and proud to be able to continue our work after receiving four year organisational funding from the Australia Council. We will continue to be an advocate for the future of contemporary arts and performance in Australia by developing the careers and works from the communities of Western Sydney.
PYT would very much like to acknowledge one of our key partners in recent work, Force Majeure. This incredible company was unfortunately not a recipient of Australia Council funding, which has come as a shock to us, and many in the sector.
Our partnership with Force Majeure is a key example of the true power of our Australian arts ecology. Our acclaimed work JUMP FIRST, ASK LATER is being presented by the Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. For the first time, young artists from Fairfield in Western Sydney are going to perform and tell their stories on Australia’s main stages. This is the kind of critical work that a strong and coherent arts ecology can create. PYT thanks Force Majeure for all their company and artistic support. We look forward to working together again during our super exciting, kick-ass season of JUMP FIRST, ASK LATER, which will continue to enrich both our companies and strengthen our national arts landscape.
We’ve arrived from Yamba, NSW coast, and Melbourne to ‘meet in the middle’ at Fairfield. For the last 10 days we have been working on creating new images, sounds and movement experiments for our work enfold.
It’s been great to be surrounded by the culture and food (!) of Fairfield in the creation of this new work – as we explore themes of migration, moving shorelines and memories of water and shelter. We’ve made ourselves right at home here – as we question what does it mean to be at home? – and what do we need to make a home?
Our collaboration stated with the dance work Opal Vapour. In that show we had a huge light up ‘dancefloor’ light-box, 20kgs of sand, cameras, microphones, data projectors, three costume changes and delicate Japanese paper knitted nets. In the new piece we are creating here at PYT we are exploring a low/no tech approaching – wanting to be transportable, sustainable and light on our feet.
It’s been great to explore rehearsing in the gallery space as well as the lovely old blue theatre space at PYT – which has the springiest sprung floor ever! We have enjoyed meeting so many people – from the crew who came to our workshop and did Japanese martial arts (kiryuho) with us – to the PYT Ensemble who helped us create our opening images and gave us wonderful feedback on what they witnessed and participated in.
Over the next two days we are continuing to grow and share the work with peers, friends (and hopefully!) future presenters of the work. Then it’s one last trip to Aladdin’s sweets to eat one more round of lady’s arms before we head homewards north and south.
Jade, Ria and Paula
Watch a video of what we’ve been up to HERE
By Donna Abela
A dancing stranger with smiling eyes in a line of other dancing strangers who reaches out her hand to you and invites you to dance. And you do. Hand in her hand, learning new steps. Dancing in time, and falling out of time, laughing with a woman who is not a stranger anymore, but someone has had made you dance and enjoy the fun you were in danger of just observing.
Painting on the outside of coffee cups to predict our own futures, own our own hopes for women in this world. Then taking your painted cup, talking to another stranger again, about our mothers, what obstacles they faced, what legacy they leave, what we have that they didn’t and must bring into our tomorrow.The shimmering gold map of Iraq. The gold twine holding together parcels of a play waiting on the table. The young women beside me draped in gold discs clinking and shimmering as they pass the tabouli, normalising the splendid. And I think, yes to more of this, more gold, more food passed around and shared among the shimmer.
Dissolving the binary. That amazing Huma bird we three drew to transcend our divisions, to see through 3-D glasses, the result of dissolved difference, our combined imaginations flying up there on the screen.
The sobering conversation with Zhara in Iraq. On constant watch for car explosions. We are safe and happy here because we want to be strong together. We know our strength is in being together in creative ways that hold our pasts, pains and hopes.
And to leave the night wanting more.
First of all I want to thank PYT for giving us the opportunity to have a residency.
We are going to use the place to make our work which is a movie and a performance.
We just started by shooting the movie on 28 of December which was exciting.
We had amazing time especially my friends from Afghanistan who were involved as actors.
It was their first experience of acting in a movie and having chat with nice Australian people, so they were really happy and it was a good chance for them to meet with Australians.
This is because they have always tried to have a chat with Australian people but they couldn’t do that.
We just started from airport which reminds us of the first time that we were released from detention center. But this time we were free so it was a good felling about that.
We finished shooting on Manly beach and during shooting we had a great time together which made me and my friends happy, even though most of us are in a not good situation day to day.
Then at the end we had lunch and fun at the beach and I could see real smile in my friends lips which was a good feeling for me.
Then Katie and I started editing the movie in PYT in Fairfield and I was so excited about that.
We have had some of our friends visit us in PYT to help with editing and comment on the movie.
We are going to have a BBQ in Mount Druitt in the actors house next week and have a chat again with Afghan refugees.
They are so happy about this idea because they could see each other and talk together and have fun again.
We are also going to have a small interview with some of those people about their experience travelling from their home town to Australia.
This week Katie and I are starting to work on the performance and I’m going to direct Katie which will be fun. This is a good feeling, but I am also nervous because we have been friends for some time and now I have to direct her.
PYT have established an Artist-In-Residence program offering professional arts practitioners the opportunity to spend up to three weeks in Fairfield to develop new work and engage with the local community.
Artists are offered a theatre /or studio space, AV Equipment, office space, creative dialogue with PYT Directors, and developmental presentation opportunities.
1. Submit one page that outlines:
– A description of your project
– What activities you would be undertaking during your residency
– Who are the artists involved
– What time of year would best suit you
2. On a separate page please submit: Artist Biographies.
PYT are offering three artists or creative teams up to 2-3 week full time residencies.
Application due date: Dec 19th 2014
Please send applications: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information: http://pyt.com.au/participate/in-residence/
Feeling incredibly excited for the opportunity Power House Youth Theatre has given me, to have space, time and support in developing my first solo works, which will be presented at La Mama Theatre Melbourne as part of the spring season of “Explorations”. This works has steamed from a presented piece which was directed by the director of PYT, Karen T. She supported me in creating a monolog which encapsulated my family history in and around the realms of; social, sexual and cultural identity. Following on from this, I have just returned to South Africa after 30 years and re-connected with my family history, having first hand experience of the ripple affect, both the positive and negative outcomes Apartheid and segregation created on society/ my family.
My experience out at FairFeild – Whoooo finally, a wonderful boost of culture in Sydney I got to experience in my 2 weeks. Walking in the morning to the theatre I’d stop and get my $3.50 coffee and the most delicious sweet moralise. Friendly community, cheap tasty food and a diverse environment which really was refreshing to the inner city hustle.
Working by myself was such a tricky experience, which of course taught me a lot and offered me a pathway in communicating the project with outside eyes. Having a space at PYT which is a constant hive of varies activities was refreshing while creating my work.
Melissa provided me with a solid supportive foundation and induction of the Theatre, giving me confidence to ask for assistants when needed, while Karen allowed a refreshing outlook on my work and helped me push through my own fears in creating a solo.
Without Boundaries offers insight and acknowledge of the ongoing affects, underlying prejudice and isolation in an apparent diverse and open community. Looking at the boundaries race, class gender and colour has on today’s world still. This work is a synthesis of Physical Theatre, Dance and Sound.
In developing this work I am looking into the idea of “The Oppressed becoming the oppressor”, Paolo Friere.
Linda Luke blogs about her residency in Fairfield, developing her new dance work Still Point Turning
June 19 – July 3rd
I’ve had the wonderful pleasure and privilege to be invited by Powerhouse Youth Theatre to conduct a residency to work on my upcoming solo dance work STILL POINT TURNING which will premiere in Melbourne in just a few months time. And what a pleasure it has been to be here in the studio, spending time and space to finalise the choreographic elements and to work with my design team to complete the staging of the work.
Fairfield is the best place to visit. At PYT, every day there is activity. Mothers and babies meetings; the Nine Lives Team parkour boys n girls meeting almost daily and committing to their grueling training to keep them at their very best for performances. The wonderful PYT ensemble whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with during my time here (as well as a stint last year on the production The Violence Project). Artists and arts workers of all manner dropping in for a meeting and cup of tea… An utter hive of activity. And the food is fantastic. I especially loved Linda’s, a Persian restaurant with my very own name J
A little more about STILL POINT TURNING…
Still Point Turning is a synthesis of dance, video, sound and installation. I did the very first development a number of years ago in Los Angeles when I was on a dance residency there. Then last year, I picked it up again and have been working in a number of stages to finish the piece.
The work was inspired by TS Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton http://www.coldbacon.com/poems/fq.html
My favorite line was:
At the still point, there the dance is…
That made me think a lot about stillness and movement and dance and so, Still Point Turning was birthed. The piece explores perceptions of time, stillness, and turbulence and reflects upon the fragmented and transient nature of contemporary culture, alluding to euro centric history and our obsession with ‘clock’ time. Juxtaposing this, it also reflects on the nature of cosmic time, the eternal cycle of living and dying, and that deep – yet elusive – silence that resides in every one of us.
Still Point Turning will also have a season at Parramatta Riverside Theatre, 27 – 29th November 2014. For further information go to http://form.org.au/2013/11/still-point-turning/
Choreographer/Performer Linda Luke
Composer Vic McEwan
Video Artist Martin Fox
Lighting Designer Clytie Smith
Designer Justine Shih-Pearson
Choreographic Consultant Tess de Quincey
Producer Artful Management
STILL POINT TURNING is funded by the NSW government through Trade and Investment Arts NSW and is supported by the Department for Performance Studies – University of Sydney.
(Photo: Mayu Kanamori)
I have just finished two weeks with the fabulous 9 Lives crew working on the first stage development of a new physical theatre work. These guys were just so inspiring and exciting to hang out with, they have boundless passion for what they do and their work ethic and commitment is incredible. My focus over the course of the fortnight was to find ways to present their stories, their cultural histories and their relationship with Fairfield through the lens of their own interests and movement practises rather than through the imposition of my choreographic interests and research. Although we probably spent a little more time talking than moving in the first week my feeling was that without getting to know them and without their trust we would essentially just make a theatricalised display of their skills. Which, considering their skills would be fabulous to watch but would feel a little empty as a performance work. Each of them has a distinct physical style and their own interests in terms of movement and I am keen to keep the separation in those physical voices whilst braiding them together in the work. I also really wanted to keep it fairly raw and try to keep the work alive with the sort of energy they put out naturally when they are together. So, especially in the beginning of the work, the audience feels like they have entered one of the crew’s regular evening rehearsals rather than some considered theatrical space. My feeling is that each audience member needs to get to know these guys for the people they are as I did and through a similar process to how I did rather than cleaning everything up and packaging or distilling everything into palatable and concise theatrical scenes.
The arc of the work at this point is not related to story or character but to their practice and the training that they employ. I want their stories to literally unfold out of this training. These are kids that have connected on a creative level before anything else they are all drawn to movement for that reason and to the generative processes that unfold when you begin to increase your understanding and mastery of your physicality. They have each embraced movement and the creative aspects of Parkour and I get the feeling that the physical training is having somewhat therapeutic outcomes in other aspects of their lives. It is like they are practising risk assessment and management first in a purely physical way, but then those instincts flow out from there into the rest of their lives. The training, the performances and the sense of community born from the inclusion in the crew erodes their differences. It knits them together, it gives them a reason to eat well, sleep well, train hard, look after each other and keep healthy. At the end of the two weeks I feel like we have discovered some really incredible stories and physical material and that things are looking very good for stage two.