Julian Louis, Artistic Director NORPA

Julian Louis, Artistic Director NORPAPhoto – Kate Holmes

Everyone loves a story. When that story relates to part of our own lifestyle-choice, our own history-in-the-making (dare I say, ‘our journey’) and the environment we have chosen to live in, then that story gains our full attention.

Resonating through “life in a town”, honing it even further to include a local venue, that story can turn full circle to embrace us all. As a collaborative theatre experience, NORPA holds hands with many to bring Dreamland to the Bangalow A&I Hall, after a sell-out season, many full moons ago, at the Eureka Hall (as part of ‘If These Halls Could Talk’). The Halls are still talking, and Julian Louis is listening, specifically to “Bangalow’s own Opera House”, bringing the inspiration of “where we live” to the broader community.

“We make theatre here”, says Julian, “through limitless stories and inspiration, telling a long history, inclusive of Indigenous stories, which have not always been so inclusive.” At the ‘meet the Bangalow locals’ evening at the iconic A&I Hall, we watched a brag presentation on past successes, spanning six years, of theatre, “all made by us to celebrate where we live.” Excerpts from Railway Wonderland, Open House, My Radio Heart, Journey to an Unnamed World, Cockfight, Dreamland, Wildskin and Djurra proved this concept to be a total winner and I was proud, last night, in the knowledge that I have witnessed the NORPA magic, first hand. The past productions speak for themselves with cutting-edge, riveting, talented, inspirational and cohesive/collaborative approaches for each and every show – theatre that transports and engages on every level.

Julian outlined how the process begins: “Hold a meeting; talk and record stories, generating seeds of ideas; go write it up.” He applauded the writer, Janis Balodis, “who doesn’t mind this process.” Dreamland has so many stories within stories, with “improvisation being an essential part; a series of scenes, turning fashion into text and colliding with real stories. How do we create in a space?…the real protagonist is the Hall.” With this in mind, Dreamland will incorporate nuances and different stories, relating to Bangalow and its environs, with the A&I Hall the protagonist, this time around.

As Julian mentioned, bringing Dreamland to the larger audience, “NORPA is, after all, Northern Rivers Performing Arts, and we realise that not everyone will travel to Lismore, so we are stretching our wings.” It is all about the collaboration on so many levels, and actors from the original show will once again lead the way home. Kirk Page, “beautiful singer, indigenous creative in spaces that have not always been welcoming, has built, more strongly, new and poignant material with laughter, purpose and power, with ‘pop’s’ sprinkled throughout the show.” Also, a bigger band, with many a ‘dream-themed’ song for us all to dance to (yes, another extra stage will be added to the A&I Hall and the audience can interact and dance)! I am polishing my shoes as I type.

Dreamland, at the A&I Hall in Bangalow, will be “site specific, a universal show but also a celebration of local life – rural, hippy, tree-changers, looking forward to being in Bangalow” and the season will start May 15 to 25 at 7.30pm.

Julian Louis says the show will be extended if there is enough demand. After witnessing the first version at Eureka Hall, I am sure the extension will be a happening event! “We want the town and the businesses to have a positive experience, having NORPA in Bangalow”. Could there be any other experience, than positive, when NORPA is in any town? I can see other halls in the Northern Rivers Region putting up their hands and praying that NORPA will visit them, too, in the fullness of time. Apparently it takes a village…

Dreamland opens at the Bangalow A&I Hall, 15 May 2019. Visit: norpa.org.au

 

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