No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Kumuwuki

Kumuwuki Review: I Met

Emma Beech in the Australian Bureau of Worthiness’ I Met Viborg

I’ve now seen the Australian Bureau of WorthinessI Met in four incarnations: Renmark, Port Adelaide’s Port Road, Viborg in Denmark, and now Goolwa.

I never wrote about the work properly; although I was intending to after Viborg time got away from me; I only just briefly mentioned Port Road; and had an even briefer pass at Renmark. Now, I see that as a unique blessing: if I am going to write about this work I need to write about its changing incarnations, its constant rediscovery of itself and exploration of its own form and possibilities.

Being able to see the work four times before sitting down to write about it is perhaps the most unique privilege and what we search for in looking at the role “embedded critic”: in following the creation – or recreation – of the I Met model, I now, hopefully, get to give more than a cursory review of one show, and instead get to write about what the Bureau have created as a model. A unique show model, perhaps, takes a unique writing model.

The Australian Bureau of Worthiness is the creation of artists Emma Beech and Tessa Leong, and often operated with James Dodd. It’s model is simple: go into a community and discover who they are and what is important to them through the use of a simple question: What makes your day worth it?

No justification or further exploration is given for the question: some answer with the small – seeing someone’s smile, the sound of a packet of biscuits being opened, some offer up answers of the deeply philosophical – the ways they intend to change the world, some can’t offer up an answer at all – nothing.

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Welcome To Kumuwuki

The Regional Arts Australia Conference started fourteen years ago in Mount Gambier. A biennial conference, it has travelled to each state and is now back in South Australia, now at Goolwa, under the duel names of Kumuwuki / Big Wave.

Goolwa is the traditional home of the people of the Ngarrindjeri nation, extending along the lower Murray River, the western Fleurieu Peninsula, and the Coorong.  It was settled by white Australians as a river port collecting goods from upstream of the Murray.  Originally, it was connected to the seaside Port Elliot for boat trade, but the area was prone to shipwrecks, and the primary port moved down the coast to Victor Harbor.

Goolwa is now home to 6000 people, and, along with the coastal towns Port Elliot, Victor Harbor, and Middleton, it is a popular summer holiday destination.

Country Arts SA is currently in its third year of running the Regional Centre for Culture. Each year since 2010, a different regional town has been dubbed the Centre for Culture, and has seen an investment in upgrading infrastructure, increased touring, and support for work with and by local artists and communities. The Regional Arts Conference is being presented as a part of Goolwa’s Just Add Water, and sits as just a weekend in the yearlong program.

The conference opening plenary brought together the several hundred delegates, welcomed with a Welcome To Country and a Smoking Ceremony, asking the ancestors of everyone in this space to come and sit with us.

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