Over a three-year period between 2002 and 2005, the Australian theatre saw the staging of some thirty-two separate plays and performances engaging with the plight of asylum seekers arriving on Australian shores. Measured simply by the quantity of productions alone, this is an extraordinary output of theatre productions dealing with a single political issue. This paper provides a summary of some of the highlights of the theatre’s engagement with the asylum issue and with those hidden behind the razor wire of the nation’s detention centres. In the context of the Howard Government’s policies of media censorship, this essay highlights the implicit connection between state censorship and control of information and the materialization of the stage as a space of political significance. Staging Hidden Stories: Theatre and Asylum Seekers

In January 2002, the French company Théâtre du Soleil threatened to pull out of the Sydney Festival in protest against the Howard government’s handling of the Tampa affair and its hardline stance on asylum seekers (Albert 2002; Cosic 2005a). Eventually the company acquiesced and their performance The Flood Drummers went ahead, but not without sparking controversy on closing night when the slogan ‘free the refugees’ was projected onto the set (Clark 2003). The stunt produced a public backlash, and Artistic Director of the Sydney Festival, Brett Sheehy, received several complaints about the protest act. In response, Sheehy wrote an article in the Sydney Morning Herald in which he defended the company’s actions by explaining ‘it has always been a role of the arts to keep vigilant, to diagnose our social illnesses, and to sound the occasional clarion call for insomnia in the face of apathy’ (Sheehy 2002). Ariane Mnouchkine, the director of Théâtre du Soleil, later commented on the protest act, saying ‘it was a good gesture, but I think in a way it was an easy gesture. So I think we owe the Australian public to come back with our work on this subject’ (in Clark 2003).

And come back the company did, but only after spending three years developing a new work that focused explicitly on the global plight of asylum seekers and refugees. The company returned to Australia in October 2005 to stage Le Dernier Caravansérail as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. The show was largely provoked by the company’s visit to Australia, using material research in the country’s detention centres, and speaking of events that concerned the nation’s treatment of asylum seekers. The performance proved to be a hit with both audiences and reviewers. The season was sold out before it even began (Gill 2005). According to Miriam Cosic, on the night she attended the show the audience ‘surged to its feet’ at the end of the performance, some ‘with tears in their eyes’, and many ‘staring blankly at the stage as though still inhabiting the world […] that the French company had created’ (Cosic 2005b). Standing ovations continued throughout the run, as well as on closing night when Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, his wife Terry, and State Education Minister Lynne Kosky attended the show (Coslovich 2005). The show proved to be so successful, the State Labor Government assisted in extending the show for two more nights by providing $160,000 to subsidise the cost of the extra tickets (Gill 2005).

The two productions by Théâtre du Soleil offer useful markers with which to trace a shift in the attitudes and sympathies expressed by theatre audiences and the wider Australian public towards the plight of asylum seekers. The two productions also offer useful markers that delineate what is arguably one of the most creative and politically engaged periods in Australian theatre history. Over a period of three years, between January 2002 and October 2005, the Australian theatre saw the staging of some thirty-two separate plays and performances that engaged directly with the plight of asylum seekers arriving on Australian shores (see Appendix). Moreover, many of these plays were staged several times, with numerous productions offered both interstate and in regional areas of Australia. Measured simply by the quantity of productions alone, this is an extraordinary output of theatre dealing with a single political issue. What is even more extraordinary is that while the Howard government’s ‘Pacific Solution’ and asylum policies have invited extensive analysis and debate, in the overall commentary by historians and political observers, little attention, if any, has been paid to the significant contribution the Australian theatre has made in response to those hidden behind the razor wire of the nation’s detention centres.

In what follows, I provide a summary of some of the highlights of the theatre’s engagement with the asylum issue and with those hidden behind the razor wire of the nation’s detention centres. The focus of this paper is on theatre and performance that engages specifically with issues related to ‘asylum’ as distinct from those relating to ‘refugees’ or the broader category of ‘migrants’. The distinction relates to the method of entry into Australia and the administrative arrangements by the Australian Government to deal with the different categories of entrants. Government policy had dictated that ‘unauthorised’ onshore asylum seekers be placed in mandatory detention while their applications for protection were being processed. As a result, their experiences differed vastly from migrants entering the country with the privileges of appropriate documentation or from refugees granted protection while overseas. This overview focuses on theatre responding to those unauthorised arrivals consisting mainly of Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians, who arrived in Australia by boat between 1991 and 2001. Moreover, while this summary traces some of the important theatre events staged in response to those imprisoned in detention, it should be clear that what follows is by no means an exhaustive account of the theatrical productions staged during this period. I begin by briefly tracing the socio-political background that informed the emergence of this theatre response by examining the Howard coalition government’s policies of exclusion and media censorship that conspired to keep asylum seekers hidden from public view. I then move on to provide some highlights of the theatre’s response to these policies which I have categorised into three broad chronological phases. ‘Hostile Responses’ highlights the opposition by some audiences to early interventions in the field in 2002. ‘Theatre and Activism’ traces the interconnections that begin to form between theatre makers and the wider refugee advocacy movement emerging in 2003. ‘Theatre and Political Engagement’ focuses on the engagement by Australian political representatives with particular theatre events from the beginning of 2004. This structure helps to provide an overarching view of the significance of the theatre response to asylum, with the different phases gesturing towards the potential socio-political impact that this wave of theatre activity was generating.

Background: Policies of Exclusion and Silence

The Howard government’s response to asylum seekers was marked by the politics of exclusion. Under ‘Operation Relex’, the Government deployed the military to ‘deter and deny’ asylum seekers attempting to reach Australian territories by boat (Corlett 2002: 56; Marr and Wilkinson 2004: 172). Asylum seekers attempting to engage Australia’s protection obligations were physically excluded from the mainland, transported to detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island under the terms of the ‘Pacific Solution’ (Fiske 2006: 221). Those asylum seekers who managed to penetrate the cordon of military security erected to deny them entry, faced a range of administrative, legislative and bureaucratic exclusions (Carrington 2006: 187). The policy of mandatory detention ensured that asylum seekers were excluded and segregated in detention centres far removed from Australia’s urban centres while their applications for protection were processed. Changes to legislation introduced by the Howard Government restricted the rights of asylum seekers to access the courts for judicial review of migration decisions. Legislative changes also severely narrowed the definition of the term ‘refugee’ used by the Federal Court and the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) in determining refugee status (Corlett 2002: 65-66; Manne and Corlett 2004). Those asylum seekers whose claims for protection were approved were forced to endure further exclusions associated with temporary protection. Amendments introduced by the Government provided that asylum seekers whose claims for protection were approved would be issued with three-year Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) instead of permanent residency. The TPV conferred considerably fewer rights to refugees than those awarded permanent residency. TPV holders were excluded from the right to family reunion, settlement support services, English language classes or interpreter services, and access to mainstream social welfare assistance such as health care and income support (Mansouri 2002; Schloenhardt 2002; Taylor 2004).

These policies of exclusion were made possible largely as a result of a successful media censorship and misinformation campaign that served to provoke hostility and indifference to the plight of asylum seekers among the Australian public. The Howard Coalition Government’s response to asylum seekers was marked by unprecedented restrictions placed on the media seeking to report on immigration detention centres. The Department of Immigration’s guidelines stipulated that ‘journalists may not interview any person who is detained under Australia’s immigration law, or photograph/film people in detention in a way that they may be identifiable’ (Seale 2006). Journalists were prohibited from entering the centres, except on occasional guided tours and only after signing agreements not to interview or film detainees or staff (Mares 2002: 12). The severity of the Government’s restrictions led the ABC’s Media Watch program to make the compelling and disturbing comparison between the Immigration Department’s media guidelines and the restrictions enforced on journalists by the North Korean military dictatorship (Marr 2002). The Government restrictions were considered so severe that in 2003, Reporters Sans Frontières downgraded Australia’s rating on its International Press Freedom Index from the twelfth to the fiftieth most free country which reporters could work in (Romano 2007: 187).

Hostile Responses

While journalists were constrained from reporting about detention centres and the impact of Government policies on asylum seekers, these same restrictions proved to be a compelling provocation that incited theatre makers into action. Responding to the deficit of public information about asylum seekers and detention centres, theatre makers went to extraordinary lengths to visit detention centres, to meet with asylum seekers and detainees, to document and record their stories, and to disseminate their experiences and accounts in performance. This role is exemplified by the experience of Ariane Mnouchkine, the director of Théâtre e du Soleil. After The Flood Drummersprovoked complaints and objections at 2002 Sydney Festival, Mnouchkine extended her stay in Australia and spent several days visiting and interviewing imprisoned asylum seekers at the Villawood detention centre (Cosic 2005a). These stories were later combined with interviews conducted with asylum seekers in New Zealand, Indonesia and France, resulting in about 100 hours of recorded interviews (Hallett and Dunne 2005). These interviews became the source material out of which Le Dernier Caravansérail was devised and which the company later returned to Australia to perform. The production is largely a response the government’s media censorship which attempted to conceal the stories of asylum seekers from the Australian public. The production can also be conceived as a personal response by a director reacting to the public’s indifference to those seeking sanctuary in this country and to an audience hostile to any theatre maker with the temerity to draw attention to the nation’s apathy. The production also clearly illustrates how early theatre interventions dealing with the Government�s asylum policies faced particular hostility from audiences and the wider Australian public.

A few months after Théâtre du Soleil’s ‘stunt’ generated objections and complaints by audiences attending The Flood Drummers, refugee actor and director Niz Jabour began working on a production about asylum seekers in Newcastle. A graduate of Baghdad University, the Iraqi theatre artist had fled Iraq, spending more than three years in a detention centre in Iran, before making his way to Pakistan where he was employed as a translator and interpreter in a refugee camp run by the United Nations. Jabour was eventually granted a refugee visa through the Australian Government’s humanitarian program. He arrived in Australia in 1997, bringing with him over twenty-six years of professional theatre experience. With this experience behind him, Jabour was saddened by the apparent lack of sympathy among the wider Australian public towards the plight of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. He noted that ‘this is a country founded on boats and immigrants. They were once symbols of hope. Now they are seen as symbols of evil and terrorists’ (personal communication 2002). Recruiting a group of local youths and securing some funding from the NSW Ministry for the Arts, as well as in-kind support from the Newcastle City Council, Jabour launched a theatre project to examine the apparent indifference of Australian audiences. However, during rehearsals the Newcastle City Council began receiving abusive anonymous phone calls from residents incensed by the Council’s support for a production dealing with the subject of refugees (Barnier and Doherty 2002). Despite resistance from members of the public, the project premiered at the Palais Royale under the title No Answer Yet on 4 April 2002. The level of hostility expressed by some audience members to theatre interventions engaging with asylum is further illustrated in an incident that took place on the opening night of New Mercury Theatre’s Woomera in October 2002. In response to the production, scriptwriter and actor Josh Wakely received a death threat in the mail. The letter that was addressed to the 21-year-old writer and performer warned: ‘The shit stirrers always end up in deep shit or dead’ (Blake 2002). The police treated the death threat seriously and launched an investigation, forcing the production company to hire extra security for the venue throughout the production run.

Theatre and Activism

Partly in response to the hostility of audiences and the wider Australian public to these early theatre interventions, by the beginning of 2003 Australian theatre makers were forming important alliances with activists and advocacy groups emerging as part of the wider refugee advocacy movement. The establishment of refugee advocacy groups such as Children out of Detention (ChilOut), the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC), Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR), and Actors for Refugees (AFR) saw the theatre being used as a means to publicise conditions in detention and critique the government’s asylum policy. The networks with advocacy and community groups also meant that the theatre was used as a means for fund-raising in order to ameliorate the effects of the asylum policies by providing practical social and community support to asylum seekers both in detention and to those recently released into the community. Elsewhere, I have discussed some of the interventions emerging at the intersection between the theatre, the community, and the wider refugee advocacy movement in Australia (Hazou 2009). In this context, it may be sufficient simply to cite a couple of important examples highlighting the growing interconnections in this area. For example, after being staged as a double bill at the Old Fitzroy Theatre in January 2003, Shahin Shafaei’s Refugitive and Linda Jaivin’s Halal-el-Mashakel were launched on extensive regional tours supported by community refugee advocacy groups such as RAC and RAR (Dick and Cochrane 2003). Written, directed and performed by Iranian asylum seeker Shahin Shafaei, Refugitive examined the issue of the hunger strikes and protests in Australian detention centres (Hazou 2008). Halal-el-Mashakel was written by playwright Linda Jaivin after she met and befriended eighteen-year-old Iranian Morteza Poovadi in Villawood after taking part in a visitor’s program established by the group ChilOut (Kerr 2004). After being staged as a double bill at the Old Fitzroy Theatre in January 2003, the two plays were later staged together at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in March 2004, before launching on extensive regional tours. According to producer Alex Broun, Refugitive toured to forty cities and towns over a period of six months (Stephen 2004). Production company Presto Manifesto suggests that Halal-el-Mashakel played to more than 1000 students in Adelaide and regional South Australia as part of the Adelaide Fringe youth touring program (Presto Manifesto 2004). The success of these productions can in part be attributed to the support of refugee advocacy groups such as RAR, RAC and ChilOut, which assisted in advertising and promoting the production.

Linked to the interconnections between theatre makers and the wider refugee advocacy movement is the dual role in which theatre makers were often engaged. By the middle of 2003, theatre makers were not only involved in creative capacities as the creators of performance work exposing the effects of federal government policies on asylum seekers, but were also often involved in direct activism and protests, as well as providing hands-on advocacy and support for asylum seekers. In July 2003, a play reading of Purgatory Down Under was staged outside the home of Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock as part of a large rally organised by RAC involving some 300 protestors (Wilson 2003). The NSW Police tried to stop the rally by applying for a court injunction against rally organisers in the NSW Supreme Court. The application was the first time in nearly twenty years that NSW Police had sought a court order to prevent a public demonstration. However, Justice Carolyn Simpson rejected police arguments that the rally would constitute a breach of the peace and instead ordered that the rally should go ahead (Colman and Karvelas 2003). The protest was organised by RAC and described as the ‘Detain Ruddock for a Day’ rally. The protestors had planned to build a mock detention centre outside Minister Ruddock’s home (Banham 2003). Despite the Supreme Court ruling, on the day of the rally the police blockaded the protestors from marching on the Minister’s residence and in the ensuing scuffles three protestors were arrested (Hilderbrand 2003). Although the Minister was out of town, one report indicates that the performance received a resounding response from the 300-strong crowd which included members of the police (Wilson 2003).

During the second half of 2003, the Australian theatre response was also reflecting a shift in creative strategies, presumably reflecting the concern of theatre makers to reach new audiences and circumvent claims of ‘preaching to the converted’ and the perceived didactic and agit-prop designations of the burgeoning political theatre response to asylum seekers. This shift in creative strategies can be traced in the growing number of comedies and satires emerging at this time, including the staging of Babel Towers in June, followed closely by Seeking Djira and Purgatory Down Under in August, and the staging of the musical comedy Jumpin’ the Q in November.Jumpin’ the Q is noteworthy for imaginatively merging the Tampa incident and the plight of asylum seekers with the idea of a reality-TV singing competition. The setting for the musical comedy is a television set constructed onboard a container ship anchored off the Australian coast. A group of contestants comprised of a refugee, an asylum seeker and two would-be migrants, compete in a singing competition which is broadcast ‘live’ to the Australian mainland. The television audience votes to select a winning contestant who is awarded a recording contract as well as Australian citizenship.

Theatre and Political Engagement

By 2004, the Australian theatre response to asylum seekers had generated increasing attention from political representatives and the wider public, leading numerous commentators to proclaim the re-emergence of political theatre in Australia. In March 2004, a day before Version 1.0’s A CMI was due to open, the production sparked humorous commentary in the Australian Senate. The group-devised project involved the distillation of some 2,200 pages of transcripts from the Senate Select Committee’s Inquiry into A Certain Maritime Incident (2002). The Senate Inquiry was set up to investigate the details surrounding the ‘Children Overboard Affair’ and the sinking of the SIEV X. A day before the premier of A CMI, the Democrat’s Senator Andrew Bartlett stood in the Senate to express his interest in attending the production, in which, he jokingly observed, Liberal Senator Brett Mason gets a starring role. Mason responded with the repartee that he was being played by Brad Pitt. Significantly, five of the seven senators comprising the Senate Select Committee would eventually attend the production, becoming spectators of a performance satirising their own conduct during the Children Overboard Inquiry (SAVE Australia 2004).

By April 2004, the asylum issue had arguably shed its marginalised status with the premier of In Our Name at the Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney, when it was described as the first mainstream subscription season play to deal with the asylum seekers (Morgan 2004). Presented by Company B and directed by Nigel Jamieson, In Our Name was constructed out of interviews conducted with members of the Iraqi Al Abaddi family. The play traced the Al Abaddi family’s nightmare in Australian detention, beginning with their arrival by boat, their internment, and mistreatment by staff. In devising the documentary play Jamieson explained, ‘We’ve heard the Government’s point of view and we’ve heard the activist point of view, but this is the story from the perspective of the family to whom it happened’ (Rose 2004). On 18 April 2004, theatre critic Colin Rose was heralding the return of political theatre. In a feature on In Our Name published in the Sun Herald, Rose emphatically declared that ‘political theatre is back’ and as evidence pointed to a growing number of performances dealing with the federal government’s policy of mandatory detention (Rose 2004).

Two months later, art critic Jo Litson was again hailing the re-emergence of political art in Australia. Writing in The Australian, Litson noted numerous Australian theatre works over the last two years dealing with the asylum issue, and suggested that ‘there hasn’t been such a surge of political engagement in Australian arts since the protest movements of the 1960s and ’70s’ (Litson 2004). Significantly, Litson’s comments coincided with the tour of Club Refuge to Canberra by Actors for Refugees (AFR). Formed by actors Alice Garner and Kate Atkinson in Melbourne in September 2001, the AFR’s principal aim was ‘to raise awareness of and above all humanise the plight of refugees’ which was successfully achieved by enlisting dozens of influential professional actors to join the organisation and lend their support . Club Refuge was composed from excerpts of letters written by asylum seekers in detention centres. Over the coming years, the script would be continually updated with new material as new contacts and correspondence were established with detainees. As part of its tour to Canberra, Club Refuge was performed in the Parliament House Theatrette (Musa 2004). The play was staged as part of a series of events in support of World Refugee Day, and was attended by a number of politicians including ALP president Carmen Lawrence and Liberal MP Petro Georgiou (2004).

By 13 October 2004, presenter Julie McCrossin of ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program was affirming the revival of political theatre in Australia, devoting the program to a discussion of the political impact of Australian theatre productions dealing with refugees and detention (McCrossin 2004). The discussants on the program included director Ros Horin, whose playThrough the Wire premiered the next day on 14 October at the Sydney Opera House Studio. The verbatim theatre work was devised by Ros Horin from in-depth interviews conducted with detainees of Villawood and their Australian supporters. In her director’s note, Horin described how in devising Through the Wire her intention was to get behind the politically driven shroud of ‘anonymity’ thrown over asylum seekers, ‘to reveal the human faces and stories of these refugees and their supporters’ (Horin 2005). Generating wide acclaim, the play was set to launch on an extensive suburban and regional tour funded by the federal government (Bonner 2004). However, the tour was unexpectedly cancelled after a funding application to the Commonwealth’s national touring fund, Playing Australia, was rejected. Journalist David Marr has alleged that the rejection of funding was tantamount to Government censorship. In an article published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Marr argued that a representative of Arts Minister Rod Kemp had managed to persuade the funding committee of Playing Australia not to recommend the play for funding. Marr argued that in the theatre industry there was little doubt that ‘Canberra was simply not going to back a politically unpalatable show’ (Marr 2005).

The Commonwealth’s increasing concerns over the political significance and impact of Australian theatre can be also measured in the controversy that emerged after the premier of Two Brothers in April 2005. Written by Hannie Rayson and directed by Simon Philips, the play opened to a storm of criticism and controversy. Conservative columnist Andrew Bolt launched the most acerbic criticism of the play. Writing in The Herald-Sun, Bolt described the play as a ‘vomit of smug hate’ criticising Rayson for cruelly and hysterically smearing Australia’s defence personnel and Liberal voters. Bolt also derided the fact that taxpayers’ money was spent devising a play that accuses the nation’s navy of murdering women and children (Bolt 2005a, 2005b). The production went on, allegedly igniting a debate among senior ministers about the possibility of abolishing the Australia Council after it was deemed to have funded what was perceived to be anti-Liberal Party propaganda (Brisbane 2005; Marr 2005).

The examples of Through the Wire and Two Brothers suggest an acknowledgement by political representatives of the growing significance and impact that the theatre response was generating. This acknowledgement of the theatre’s potential impact can also be traced in the decision by Liberal MP Petro Georgiou to outline the details of his private member’s bill at a theatre performance. On 8 June 2005, as part of a performance of Something to Declare by AFR, guest speaker MP Petro Georgiou outlined details of his proposed private member’s bill, which sought to have all children and their families released from detention centres (reported by ABC Victoria and AAP). In response to this proposed bill, the Prime Minister John Howard was eventually forced to negotiate a deal under which all children and their families would be released from detention. The deal also insured that an ombudsman would review cases where asylum seekers had been in detention for more than two years (Gordon 2005: 105). These measures signalled a shift in the Government’s hard stance towards detainees, helping to draw the curtain on a controversial period in the nation’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Conclusion: Acting for Asylum

By the time the Théâtre du Soleil returned to Australia in October 2005 to present Le Dernier Caravansérail at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, the public mood on the issue of asylum and detention had shifted considerably. The sell-out production not only received a rapturous response from audiences, but, in response to the popularity of the production, the Victorian Government provided unprecedented funding to extend the season of a production that was explicitly critical of the Howard coalition government’s treatment of asylum seekers (Gill 2005). The change in the public attitude towards asylum seekers occured during a period of intense creativity and political engagement in the Australian theatre landscape. And while it is difficult to directly correlate the change in public attitudes to the amount of theatre activity circulating at this time, the sheer quantity of the theatre output emerging during this period constitutes a crucial factor in understanding the shift in the public’s sympathy towards asylum seekers.

Above all, this paper highlights that the Australian theatre response to asylum seekers must be understood in the context of the government’s policies of exclusion and its censorship of the media. It also provides a concrete example of the implicit connection between state censorship and the materialization of the political significance of the stage. When government impedes popular media sources of news, current affairs, and reportage, the stage is imbued with political significance through its potential capacity to disseminate information and expose the manipulations, machinations and obfuscations of the state. Challenging the government’s policies of exclusion, Australian theatre emerged as an important socio-political practice geared towards the inclusion of those who have been excluded by the state. In contrast to the government’s policies of media censorship and information control, Australian theatre responding to the plight of asylum seekers has attempted in various ways to return the theatre to its etymological and radical associations as ‘a place of seeing’ where audiences can contend with the experiences and stories of those hidden and silenced by the state.

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Appendix: The Australian Theatre Response to Asylum Seekers 2002 ‘ 2005

 

No. Premiere Date Production
1
4 April 2002
No Answer Yet by Ommi Theatre Company. A contemporary performance work devised and directed by Niz Jabour.
Staged at the Palais Royale, Newcastle
2
15 May 2002
The Waiting Room by Melbourne Workers Theatre and Platform 27. A group-devised contemporary performance work. Directed by Richard Lagarto.
Staged at Trades Hall, Melbourne.
3
29 May 2002
Club Refuge by Actors for Refugees. A documentary theatre production devised by the ensemble using correspondence by detainees. Staged at Fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne.
4
15 June 2002
Close the Concentration Camps devised and performed by Mike Parr. A performance installation staged at the Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne.
5
21 June 2002
There is Nothing Here by Footscray Community Arts. A fictional drama written by Afshin Nikouseresht and Dave Kelman. Directed by Dave Kelman.
Staged at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne.
6
17 July 2002
Country Music by the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA). A fictional drama written by Nick Enright. Directed by Tony Knight and Julia Cotton.
Staged at the Parade Theatre, Sydney.
7
19 July 2002
Kan Yama Kan by the Fitzroy Learning Network (FLN). A documentary theatre production devised by the ensemble and a team of writers. Directed by Robyn Laurie.
Staged at Trades Hall, Melbourne.
8
26 September 2002
Citizen X by the Sidetrack Performance Group. A documentary theatre production devised by the ensemble using correspondence by detainees. Directed by Don Mamouney. Staged at the Sidetrack Studio in Marrickville, Sydney.
9
4 October 2002
Woomera by New Mercury Theatre in association with the Tamarama Rock Surfers and Refugee Action Coalition (RAC). A fictional drama written by Josh Wakely. Directed by Alex Broun. Staged at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Sydney.
10
27 January 2003
Refugitive by New Mercury Theatre. A fictional drama written and performed by Shahin Shafaei. Staged at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Sydney.
11
27 January 2003
Halal el Mashakel by Presto Manifesto. A fictional drama written by Linda Jaivin. Directed by Marta Dussledrop. Staged at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Sydney.
12
14 February 2003
Buddha’s Tears by Shiraz Theatre. A fictional drama written by Shala Mirbakhtyar. Directed by Shala Mirbakhtyar and Jamshid Malekpour. Staged at Gorman House Arts Centre, Canberra.
13
14 March 2003
Ghosts by Melbourne Women’s Circus. A circus performance directed by Andrea Lemon.
Staged at Shed 14 in the Docklands, Melbourne.
14
30 April 2003
Aliens by the Australian Theatre of the Deaf (ATOD). A physical theatre performance devised and directed by Tony Strachan. Staged at St. Catherine’s School in Waverley, Sydney.
15
21 June 2003
Something to Declare by Actors for Refugees (AFR). A documentary theatre production devised by Michael Gurr using correspondence by detainees. Directed by Aubrey Mellor.
Staged at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne.
16
25 June 2003
Babel Towers by Theatre@risk. A satirical comedy devised by the ensemble with Polash Larsen. Directed by Chris Bendall. Staged at the Blackbox, the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne.
17
7 August 2003
Seeking Djira by Essential Theatre. A farcical comedy written by Linda Jaivin.
Directed by David Miles.
Staged at Fortyfivedownstairs, Melbourne.
18
17 August 2003
Purgatory Down Under by New Mercury Theatre in association with Refugee Action Coalition (RAC). A farcical comedy written by Stephen Klinder and Jon Williams. Directed by Alex Broun. Staged at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Sydney.
19
16 September 2003
These People by the Sydney Theatre Company (STC). A fictional drama written by Ben Ellis. Directed by Benjamin Winspear. Staged at Wharf 2, Sydney.
20
30 September 2003
Tampa a performance installation devised by Mireille Astore.
Staged as part of the Sculpture by the Sea program at Tamarama Beach, Sydney.
21
21 November 2003
Jumpin’ the Q by Echelon Productions. A musical comedy written by Dean Bryant and Mathew Frank. Directed by Dean Bryant. Staged at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Sydney.
22
26 March 2004
A CMI (A Certain Maritime Incident) by Version 1.0. A documentary theatre production devised by the ensemble with dramaturgy by Paul Dwyer.
Staged at the Performance Space, Sydney.
23
21 April 2004
In Our Name by Company B. A documentary theatre production devised by Nigel Jamieson from interviews conducted with the Al Abbadi family.
Directed by Nigel Jamieson. Staged at the Belvoir Street Theatre, Sydney.
24
14 March 2003
Slow Falling Bird by Monash University Student Theatre. A fictional drama written by Christine Evans. Directed by Yvonne Virsik. Staged at Monash University, Melbourne.
25
17 August 2004
I Am Mohammad’s Brother by La Mama Theatre. A fictional drama written by M. Sonny Rehe. Directed by Belle Armstrong and M. Sonny Rehe. Staged at La Mama Theatre, Melbourne.
26
14 October 2004
Through the Wire by Racing Pulse productions. A documentary theatre production devised by Ross Horin from interviews conducted with refugees. Directed by Ross Horin.
Staged at the Opera House Studio, Sydney.
27
15 February 2005
Subclass 26A S devised by Bagryana Popov with the ensemble. A physical theatre performance directed by Bagryana Popov.
Staged at Fortyfivedownstaris, Melbourne.
28
10 April 2005
Nothing But Nothing by AFR Queensland and Metro Arts. A fictional drama devised and performed by Towfiq Al-Qady. Directorial assistance by Leah Mercer.
Staged at Metro Arts Theatre, Brisbane.
29
13 April 2005
Open Arms by D’Faces of Youth Arts. A fictional drama written by Bryan Martin. Directed by Priya Golfinch. Staged at the Whyalla High School, Whyalla.
30
13 April 2005
Two Brothers by the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC). A fictional drama written by Hannie Rayson. Directed by Simon Philips. Staged at Playhouse, Melbourne.
31
20 July 2005
Boy Overboard by Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP). A fictional drama adapted to the stage by Patricia Cornelius. Directed by Timothy Jones and Becky Chapman.
Staged at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, Sydney.
32
11 October 2005
Le Dernier Caravansérail by Théâtre du Soleil. A contemporary documentary theatre performance devised by the ensemble from interviews conducted with refugees.
Directed by Arian Mnouchkine.
Staged at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton, Melbourne.