My Space, My Place

My Space, My Place shadow plays

My Space, My Place shadow plays

Regardless of our age, gender, race or abilities we all have one thing in common – we have all come from somewhere – A Place. That Place with all its sounds, smells and images stir all kinds of emotions in us some accessible by memory and some remaining just as feelings. If we think of the street we grew up in, the high school we attended, or the caravan park that our family used to spend every holidays at, it is these Places and the emotions and memories strongly attached to them that give them an enormous weight and subsequently that Place plays a hugely significant and important role in the shaping of our lives and creating the person that we are.

For over a year and a half the My Space, My Place project explored this concept with over 60 people with a disability engaging them in various art forms such as music, puppetry, performance, sound, design and photography. The project worked in four stages and spanned the whole of Western Sydney from the Blue Mountains right down to Fairfield.

STAGE 1:
SNAP! GALLERY EXHIBITION

Barney & Salim taking photographs at the beach

Barney & Salim taking photographs at the beach

In March 2006 a group of 9 young people from Fairfield Community Resource Centre’s (FCRC) Adult Training Learning & Support program were involved in Stage 1 of the My Space, My Place project. Over a series of seven workshops the group explored the theme of ‘Place’ and their personal relationship to it. They were given disposable cameras to use to shoot their personal space at home, the Centre they attend, their local area, and the city & Manly beach- all identified by the group as places that hold a certain significance for them or a place they would like to visit. The group was then active in the process of selecting the prints for the exhibition which were then either enlarged for the exhibition or were manipulated into an animation sequence and enhanced by an original soundtrack that comprised of sounds recorded on site, direct reactions from participants and voice overs. This resulted in a sequence of images and sound that highlighted these young people’s relationship with the spaces and places around them.

RESULTS
The final ‘animatic’ and selected prints were displayed in a public exhibition in the SNAP! Gallery housed at Powerhouse Youth Theatre for two weeks from April 6th, 2006.

Some images were selected by Accessible Arts to be displayed in The Studio at Sydney Opera House for International day Of People With A Disability 2006 and three works were also selected to be a part of Fairfield City Museum and Gallery’s ‘Growing up in Western Sydney’ exhibition in late 2006. They were also entered into the online arts competition NOISE! in partnership with Accessible Arts which they were chosen as one of five winners.

FACILITATING ARTISTS
Photography: Barnaby Norris
Sound: Brendan Woithe
Project Coordinator: Alison Richardson

PARTICIPANTS
Michael Micallef, Nadya Silbanof, Melissa Huntsman, Zak Evangleista, Salim Shehadeh, Thomas Mylott, Vikesh Redy, Silvana Hisdoo, Heidi Morrasut

PARTNERS
Fairfield City Council, Powerhouse Youth Theatre & sliced bread attraction

STAGE 2:
GET TOASTED! PERFORMANCE TRAINING PROGRAM

Digby Webster shadow puppetry performance

Digby Webster shadow puppetry performance

During September to December 2006 ten participants from The Junction Works, William Rose Special School, The Spastic Centre and McCarthur Disability Service participated in the Get Toasted! Performance Training Program. The group attended 16 weekly skills development workshops in puppet making and manipulation, music making using The Special Access Kit, performance and theatre making. The participants played an extremely participatory & active role in not only coming up with the content for the show but also designing and creating the set and musical score.

RESULTS
The workshops culminated in a short devised piece of theatre at Powerhouse Youth Theatre based on the theme of personal space and place for International Day Of People With A Disability 2006. Another notable outcome was the friendships that were formed between the participants who are generally exposed only to the people in their service or school. There was even romance in the air!

PARTICPANTS
Jessica VanDer Neut, Aaron Lavis, Holly Dempster, Anthony Minnicino, Johno (Jonathon), George Zeaiter, Tom Nazor, Michael Pangalla, Digby Webster, Danielle Pham.

FACILITATING ARTISTS
Puppetry & design: Kate Shanahan
Music: Mark Shepherd
Performance & theatre making: Alison Richardson

PARTNERS
Fairfield City Council, Powerhouse Youth Theatre & sliced bread attraction

STAGE 3:
OUTREACH WORKSHOPS

Matthew sound recording as part of the Outreach Workshops

Matthew sound recording as part of the Outreach Workshops

Throughout July and August 2007 Accessible Arts Western Sydney coordinated a series of five outreach workshops that engaged a broad range of disability services across the Hawkesbury, Penrith and Blue Mountains regions. Under the direction of professional artists participants developed skills in digital photography and sound recording, capturing sounds and images that related to the spaces and places they inhabit. Similar to Stage 1, the group was then active in the process of selecting their favourite photos from which a shortlist was selected to be made into either prints for the exhibition or made into an animation sequence and accompanied by an original soundtrack comprised of sounds they recorded on site.

RESULTS
A public exhibition consisting of selected prints and an animated sequence of photos and sound at Powerhouse Youth Theatre from October 24th- November 7th 2007 in conjunction with the My Space, My Place theatre production.

PARTICIPATING SERVICES
Tallowood Special School (Kellyville); Xavier College (Llandilo); AFFORD Day Options (Windsor); AFFORD Cherrywood Accommodation Service (Llandilo); Disability Enterprises – Leura Day Options (Blue Mountains).

FACILITATING ARTISTS
Photography: Barnaby Norris
Sound: Nick Wishart
Project Coordinator: Alison Richardson
Exhibition design: Kate Shanahan

PARTNERS
Accessible Arts, Information & Cultural Exchange (ICE), Powerhouse Youth Theatre.

STAGE 4
MY SPACE, MY PLACE THEATRE PERFORMANCE

Michael performance in a cardboard box, My Space, My Place (2007)

Michael performance in a cardboard box, My Space, My Place (2007)

Six participants from The Junction Works St Johns Park and AFFORD Greenvalley met each Wednesday from May to October to generate ideas, shape and structure and rehearse and polish a devised theatre piece. The participants had already either been involved in Stage 1 or Stage 2 of the My Space, My Place project so was fitting and fantastic that they were able to be involved in the final stage. They worked closely each week with theatre director, Alison Richardson and designer Kate Shanahan to explore ideas of leaving, escape, home, isolation, change all linked to the overarching theme of personal connection to Place. They participated in domestic object sculptures, installation creation, shadow play, puppetry, soundscapes, imaginative journeys, group poetry, drawings and various other exercises that all formed the content of the show and heavily influenced the set and costume design.

RESULTS
A group devised piece of theatre exploring ideas of belonging and personal connection to space & place. Performances were on from October 24th- 26th 2007 at Powerhouse Youth Theatre.

CAST MEMBERS
Maria Revoltar, Michael Micallef, Nadya Silbanof, Melissa Huntsman, Holly Dempster, Tom Nazor, Digby Webster (Friday day performance)

FACILITATING ARTISTS
Director/ Producer: Alison Richardson
Set / Costume Designer: Kate Shanahan
Assistant Director / Stage Manager: Mary Jekki
Sound design: Nick Wishart
Production Manager: Tim Dennis
Assistant production manager: Ashton Whitwell
Stage Manager (Thurs): Christie

PARTNERS
Canley Heights RSL and Sporting Club, Fairfield City Council, Powerhouse Youth Theatre and sliced bread attraction.