by Rachael Dyson-McGregor
For our fifth and final panel and playback event of 2016, we partnered with Mental Health Week to present
Mental Health is a voyage that all of us embark on and navigating the sometimes choppy waters takes time, awareness and support. For our young people, this journey can be particularly acute at a time when they are still finding themselves and their place in the world.
Joining us on our panel were three inspiring young people who have all held advocacy roles in the community. Philly, a hip hop artist and Indigenous Youth worker, Steph Darling of the REACH Foundation and Aref Ramazani, a media artist and refugee advocate for young people settling in Australia.
As our panel shared their experiences of journeys towards mental health, the themes that arose were needing a sense of belonging, of having a way to be able to share their stories and of having people who would listen when they were brave enough to ask for help.
After the panel, our facilitator Danny Diesendorf led an exploration into the stories held by the audience, who shared some of their own personal journeys and those close to them.
Through moments and stories, we worked our way through the shared and unique experiences in the room. The intimate theatre at La Mama Carlton Courthouse, which was used by us in traverse for the first time created an intimate environment for both the audience and the performers.
The culmination of openness shared by our panel and our audience created an incredibly unique and unforgettable afternoon. As reviewed by one of our audience:
“It was real, it was authentic, it was so full of courage. It was intimate and I felt my heart beating the whole time. It was human beings speaking from the heart to other human beings. The skills of your performers is beyond words; they are SO present to what they see and hear, this blows me away. I want to convey my deep appreciation for his event – I will never forget it. Thank you.” Rosie Cuff.
Thank you to all who came to take part in Voyager. We feel honoured and inspired to hear and share these stories of courage, pain, hope and love. Stay tuned for next year when we will host our next panel and playback shows.
by Diana Nguyen
Our third special Q&A event after our beautiful and poignant show “SticksnStones’ at Federation Square, Melbourne Playback Theatre Company celebrated
Every year, the world celebrates World Refugee Day, and our multicultural and diverse communities living here in Australia. What makes our country proud is the contributions each Australian has brought and given back. On Thursday 23rd of June, Melbourne Playback Theatre Company brought Melbourne together to “Celebrate the Fighting Spirit in Our Community.”
With the recent #LetThemStay, #BringThemHere and the crisis of Australian asylum seeker policies detaining humans on offshore detention centres, Melbourne Playback allowed a space for human stories to be heard to remind us what was at cost.
For hundreds of years, many have set sail to call Australia home. With refugees risking their lives at sea, the Australian government is still shipping children and women into offshore detention centres. Melbourne Playback Theatre Company puts a spotlight on why we continue the plea for all people to be treated humanely,
Alex Sangster, MPTC Company member welcomed the audience from Footscray and afar and introduced our four wonderful panelists who shared their stories
Mariam Issa – Refugee, Author and Human Rights Advocate
Kon Karapanagiotidis – CEO and co founder of Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)
Lucy Honan – member of Refugee Action Collective
Mohammad Ali Baqiri – Refugee and Human Rights Advocate
The evening Q&A flowed into a performance from Melbourne playback where audience members shared their own stories of their own refugee experience, or their connections and relationships with refugees and migrants who have impacted their lives.
Love between a young couple from two different lands, onions and being grateful.
A mother’s separation from her son for one second, while hearing the story of Mohammad Ali who has been separated from his mother for years.
A woman’s despair of fleeing, and sadness by the Australian Government off-shore detentions, but hope for the future.
“We left the theatre that night having examined and gained insight into some human parts of ourselves and our fellow audience members that are not so often brought into the public or the conscious eye.”
Review by SYN June 2016
Thank you to the following supporters ASRC, Amnesty International, Refugee Action Collective, Love Makes a Way and Footscray Community Arts Centre.
Let’s not mess around…let’s get ‘Down Under‘ with a very special one-off performance that will be held on Friday 22 May at the Footscray Community Arts Centre.
We want you in the audience for this exciting show so comment below and be in the draw to win tickets.
We have two double passes to give away.
Our theme is a big topic. Reconciliation.
Reconciliation is a loaded word. Some champion it, some see it as a distraction from treaty and constitutional recognition. The definition of the word means: ‘to bring together again; regain; win over again, conciliate‘
What does reconciliation mean to you? If not reconciliation, what word would you use? What is your wish for First Nations and non-Indigenous Australia?
Many wonderful people are coming from far and wide to take part in this very special performance. We can’t wait to hear the stories that will be shared and the connections that will be made.
A playback show is a conversation, and we want to start this conversation now.
What does reconciliation mean to you?
Let us know in the comment section below. Two comment-eers will win a double pass each to the show!
So, let us know, what does reconciliation mean to you? Comment below to win!
We will draw the winners on Wednesday 20th May. Winners will be notified by email.
Or, if you just want to book some tickets, you can do that HERE
by Alex Sangster.
“A culture cannot evolve without honest, powerful storytelling”
Once upon a time there was a leader who wanted to share a vision……
Once upon a time there was a pioneer who wanted to take her people out into wild new wonderlands…
Once upon a time there was an exhausted company manager who really wanted to find a way to get his people on board with the new branding…
Telling stories matters and telling stories well isn’t something that just happens. Melbourne Playback is all about opening people up to their untapped potential as storytellers so that the message of their brand or the vision of their company, can be fully actualised.
In her recent book ‘Gossip from the Forest’ looking at how telling stories are one of our earliest cultural forms, Sarah Maitland argues that;
“The whole tradition of [oral] story telling is endangered by modern technology. Although telling stories is a very fundamental human attribute, to the extent that psychiatry now often treats ‘narrative loss’- the inability to construct a story of one’s own life – as a loss of identity or ‘personhood,’
it is not natural but an art form — you have to learn to tell stories.
The well-meaning mother is constantly frustrated by the inability of her child to answer questions like ‘What did you do today?’ (to which the answer is usually a muttered ‘nothing’ – but the ‘nothing’ is cover for ‘I don’t know how to tell a good story about it, how to impose a story shape on the events’). To tell stories, you have to hear stories and you have to have an audience to hear the stories you tell.’
Melbourne Playback opens up space for people to hear stories – to really hear them. We also create a space where people begin to learn, not only that they do have powerful stories within them but also how to tell these stories to a community.
We know that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems — that children learn about the world through listening to what happens, once upon a time, to wild wolves and brave girls. We also know that the ability to hold our personal story in the context of our culture’s meta narrative is profoundly empowering.
Jonathon Gottscall in his book ‘The Storytelling Animal’ draws on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology to reveal to us what it means to be a storytelling animal. And he argues that ‘the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior. So if you are equipped to tell your story or the story of your organization and its vision well, then you are more likely to be able to initiate behavior and culture change’.
We also now know that our brains become more active when we tell stories.
And that we feel much more engaged when we hear a narrative about events. According to Uri Hasson from Princeton, a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.
He writes of how, rather than struggling with getting people on board with your projects and ideas, you should simply tell them a story. Research shows us that storytelling is the most effective way to plant ideas into other people’s minds.
Melbourne Playback has a proven track record in working with organizations to help them learn how to articulate their own story and to then dynamically share that story with the wider world.
It is a great honour to be a part of Melbourne Playback Theatre Company at this point in it’s history. 30 years is a long time for any organisation, but for a theatre company run collectively by its members without Government funding, this is a particularly impressive achievement. Our work is all about celebrating and illuminating the stories of people, communities and organisations. So as we pause to celebrate this milestone, it is fitting that we reflect on the many stories that make up our own history.
We pay tribute to Jonathan Fox & Jo Salas, the founders of the playback theatre form, and to Mary Good and Melbourne Playback Theatre’s first ensemble members who set the foundations for this successful company. It is a credit to the culture of the company and to the dedication of each generation of members that Melbourne Playback has achieved so much. (At last count, only 62 performers have been members in the company’s history. Of the current troupe of 15, the average length of service is almost 7 years!)
We also pay tribute to the community of supporters that have grown around the company over these 30 years; audience members, clients, advocates, workshop participants. These people have enthusiastically embraced our work and provided us with two elements essential for playback theatre; audience and stories. And there has been no shortage of stories. We have performed in theatres, performing arts centres, conference centres, school halls, community centres and board rooms all over the state for an enormous range of people. Our clients include major players in the corporate sector, Government departments, community organisations, schools and even individuals looking for a unique way to celebrate their 60th birthday. We estimate that Melbourne Playback Theatre has performed over 1,200 performances and transformed over 5,000 stories for over 65,000 audience members since it was formed in 1981.
2011 is an exciting time in the company’s history. We boast an ensemble of highly talented and respected performing artists and theatre-makers who continue to refine and investigate the playback theatre form and the theatrical possibilities of storytelling. Over the past 5 years we have been through a phase of steady growth, and a residency at Auspicious Arts Incubator helped us improve our business operations. Significantly, this year we welcome the company’s first administrative employee, Sherridan Green, as our inaugural Company Manager.
With a history built on the strength of story, we look to the future with the same excited anticipation that only a good story can provide.
Andrew Gray, Petra Kalive & Mike McEvoy
Melbourne Playback Theatre Company
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