Performed at Shearwater Steiner School, Mullumbimby.
This is our second forum production.
Forum theatre was developed by South American dramatist Augusto Boal, who originally called it Theatre of the Oppressed.
Theater of the Oppressed is an arsenal of theater techniques and games that seeks to motivate people, restore true dialogue, and create space for participants to rehearse taking action. It begins with the idea that everyone has the capacity to act in the “theater” of their own lives; everybody is at once an actor and a spectator. We are “spect-actors!” — a term which Boal coined.
Boal points out that when we are simply passive audience members, we transfer our desire to take action onto the characters we identify with, and then find that desire satiated as the conflict resolves itself on stage, in films or in the news. Catharsis substitutes for action.
Boal, following Brecht, calls this bourgeois theater, which functions to reproduce elite visions of the world and pacify spectators. He says bourgeois theater is “finished” theater; the bourgeoisie already know what the world is like and so simply present it onstage.
In contrast to bourgeois theater, “the people” do not yet know what their world will be like Their “authentic” theater is therefore unfinished, and can provide space to rehearse different possible outcomes. As Boal says: “One knows how these experiments will begin but not how they will end, because the spectator is freed from his chains, finally acts, and becomes a protagonist.
A four minute promo from the public show at Byron Community Centre in November 2016.
After each show we circulate a one page, anonymous survey to all our audience members, requesting feedback and suggestions for future topics to cover. Domestic and family violence featured highly in the surveys and this request was met by BYT cast and Director Lisa Apostolides by the creation of their first, linear play called “Broken”.
Funded by Northern Rivers Community Foundation and a donation from Splendour In the Grass festival, Lisa wrote the play which was then workshopped by BYT cast members and actor Sam Hemphill.
“ I decided to play a lead role of Lily in this production” shares Lisa “ as I didn’t feel it appropriate for the majority of the violence to be directed at a young person. I engaged Sam to play the role of my new partner who has difficulties in dealing with my teenage son, Daniel, played by Seth Freeman, from a previous relationship. Both Lily and Daniel suffer verbal, emotional and physical abuse.
The work shopping and rehearsal period were intense and fruitful in creating an extremely moving and powerful play which highlights the complex problems in such situations and how to access assistance. Other characters of Daniel’s girlfriend and her friends played by Serren Glenn, Tilka Fosmale, Kia Walsey and Brynn Davis-Hay created a fantastic supporting subplot adding to the tension and drama.
The Women’s Resource centre, the Men and Family Centre, Ontrack community program, headspace Lismore, ACON Lismore, local Police and Community housing were all consulted during the development of this play as well as feedback from an online survey.
Performances were held at four local high schools as well as community performances at The Drill Hall, Mullumbimby and Byron Theatre with outstanding response from young people and adults.
This is a vox pop by Ranee Sinniah, after the Drill Hall performance
No One Way, a production which focuses on the issues faced by LGBTIAQ+ youth was the next original theatre performance to be created by BYT in 2016. The community’s support for this production became apparent early on in the research and interview phase. So many wonderful LGBT+ community members came forward to share their experiences across a wide age range. The legendary 80’s DJ Stephen Allkins, now a Northern Rivers community member donated funds raised from one of his famous My House is Your House parties, which added to the Country Arts Support Program ( Regional Arts NSW) and Byron Council grant. This enabled BYT to create another stellar production which moved audience members to tears receiving standing ovations and overwhelming feedback.
From this production local young people and BYT members recognised a need for a social event for LGBT+ youth. Raani Jade Nichols and Lisa Apostolides secured a Byron Council Small Change grant as well as a Mental health Association NSW ( ACON sponsored) community grant and yet another donation from Stephen which enabled them to create the inaugural Northern Rivers FANCY FORMAL. Check out our events page for more details.
Performers with disabilities find their voice in “OUTSPOKEN”
Byron Youth Theatre’s dynamic new production “Outspoken” will soon showcase the talents of six young people with disabilities in an innovative performance that explores themes of inclusion, belonging and identity.
Timed to coincide with Social Inclusion Week, “Outspoken” brings eighteen performers of all abilities together in a production incorporating dance, poetry, music and dramatic scenes.
Six of the performers in “Outspoken” have disabilities ranging from Down Syndrome and physical disability to partial hearing and partial sight. Byron Youth Theatre Director Lisa Apostolides has found innovative ways to incorporate all of her performers’ talents into the production through her collaboration with Michael Hennessy, the Artistic Director of SPRUNG Integrated Dance Theatre and sign language interpreter, Alison Toft.
In one scene, Alison interprets for Tallulah, a young performer with partial hearing. As Tallulah recites one of her poems entitled “The best of both worlds” Alison signs for and with Tallulah as she explores her relationship with friends in both the hearing and non hearing worlds.
In other scenes, performers like Jake, who is partially sighted, and Max and Tara, who have Down Syndrome, add live music and dance into the mix.
Director of Byron Youth Theatre, Lisa says that her experience of working with performers with disabilities has been “really wonderful and rewarding” and that it has been an amazing process to see young people express important issues in their lives through performance.
Raani Nichols, who is one of the regular performers from the Byron Youth Theatre, said that being in “Outspoken” has been “amazing” and “really positive”.
As Lisa says, “Outspoken is about breaking down barriers and finding a comfortable space to be in. I think for some people in the community they don’t know how to react or respond to people with disabilities and sometimes they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. When I was talking to Max [who has Down Syndrome] he said ‘why don’t people just ask’?”
“Outspoken” will be performed at The Drill Hall, Mullumbimby, NSW on Monday 30th November from 10am – 12pm.
This production has been made possible through FundAbility, a program funded by Northcott to support community projects that promote social inclusion for children and young people with disabilities. For more information see http://www.fundability.com.au.
Mind Made Me is one of BYT’s longstanding productions created in 2013. Originally funded by Northern Rivers Community Foundation, the production was created by seven cast members most of whom had a lived experience of dealing with mental health issues. Mind Made Me schools tour in 2013 and again in 2014 with additional development funding from Country Arts Support program, Regional Arts NSW, as well as several community events and conferences.
The process facilitated by Director of BYT, Lisa Apostolides was particularly challenging but often therapeutic for Company members, many of whom have a lived experience of mental health issues, as they researched, interviewed peers, shared personal stories and consulted with health professionals. The result was an incredibly emotive piece of youth theatre that has sometimes shocks audiences but with positive effect.
The production exposes the challenges faced by young people dealing with anxiety, depression, negative body image, non suicidal self harm, sexual identity and bullying.
Here are some clips filmed independently at Byron Theatre as well as an youth audience member comment at the Richmond Valley Mental health Expo in 2014.
This production focuses on the issues relating to illicit drug use on young people, their families, friends and the community. Devised through facilitated workshops with Director Lisa Apostolides, Altered States toured schools in Byron Shire and also staged a public performance at the Drill Hall in Mullumbimby.
The production was an overwhelming success with many asking for more performances of this powerful work.
Altered States was funded by NORTEC Employment and Training Services and Northern Rivers Community Foundation.