Theatre of mystery, imagination and the fantastique
Scream: December 2007
The Eureka Moment
Taking back the Eureka Moment
from science fiction and fashion labels.
We have found the ideal location for the exploration, development and presentation of a revitalized theatre; a theatre that draws on the big themes of culture, history, the myths and metaphors that inform and betray us. We have found a place filled with disturbing ghosts lamenting the loss of dreams, lives, culture and a future. We have found a place with the most beautiful and varied countryside that is suffering the ravages of mining and hard rains. We have found a beauty that is tinged with the melancholy of cultural guilt and the wailing for redemption. This is a place that has not tried to cover its various shades of contradictory life and history. I speak of our proposed Copper Creek Retreat just 2k outside of Captains' Flat.
It still rains at Captain's Flat. You can see the clouds looming as you drive through the valleys and the ridges that pave the journey once you turn from The Kings Highway. It's not an exaggeration to say it feels like an almost magical journey. It's hard to believe that in such a short journey of no more than fifty minutes from The National Capital, there is this other world with a ghost town feel and the evidence of a mixed history.
So what more magical a place could one need to conjure up a theatrical phoenix?
Memory of The Eureka Stockade
As I stand on the slope facing down toward the creek, I see the ruins of an old house demolished about fifty years ago. The space is expansive. And I imagine actors and artists working on the development of big themes for theatrical expression. Iconic memories within our history loom up like specters through the landscape. The wind conjures the howling of lonely souls still struggling to be heard in the fluorescent world of modern day Australia.
While there was no necessary wisdom in their cry, there was an experience; an experience that still needs expression . . . And an expression to inform our lives today in this country, on this land and in our relationship to the wider world and its environment.
There are many iconic moments in the short history of settlement since 1788 on this continent. If our exploration of this history and its culture be also informed by the voices of the original inhabitants, then our present day culture and the issues confronting it can be strengthened and enriched. Theatre must be a part of this process. We must contribute to this process. The shadows and echoes of past constructions help to identify who we are and what we have become. The contrasts and hidden mysteries provide the shape and boundaries of present day lives. The reference points become more obvious. The patterns become revelations.
Isn't it time our theatre did its own cultural S.W.O.T. analysis? But not simply to shore up its own survival, but rather to view and contribute to the survival of the culture that nourishes and supports it.
Historians might dispute the legacy of the events surrounding the rebellion at The Eureka Stockade however such an event shouldn't be forgotten and may also provide a strong reference point for cultural understanding. Theatre practitioners, artists, writers and designers have an obligation to examine, challenge and express re-evaluations of the past in order to give weight to our understanding of the present.
We need to face the bones of past lives and constructions in order to find the patterns of the present. This means going to places that still are not restive and still harbour the spirit of lost dreams and failed promises.
There is something so ephemeral about the nature of euphoria and satisfaction. They cannot last. And so in the wake of their passing, lie the unresolved energies that can be felt, seen and touched. In the main, we coat over these. But they are still there. They are still a valuable source of creativity while providing some answers to deeply ingrained questions about the who, what and why of culture.
Captains Flat closed its mine in 1962. Most of the houses were trucked out. Where there was once a population of over 6,000 people, today there are about 450. Evidence of past times is found both in the town and in the surrounding district.
Shadow House PITS is aiming to utilize the surroundings to bring actors and artists into close proximity with the past. We wish to be open to the stories and physical remnants of past lives. We wish to use this to reference our working on new projects in the coming years.
Theatre is about more than appropriating iconic names for marketing of fashionable products or linking the name to works of fantasy and science fiction. We trust we can use our time here to create works of value and to enrich the lives of artists and audiences for the betterment of society and culture.