SITESOUNDMIN(e)D: Unearthing Palimpsests of Site

By Brian Joyce.

Published by The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The closing of the James Fletcher Hospital in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, occasioned a re-investigation of the site of this significant landmark. This site is infused with the changing enactments of a colonial city, from birth to its contemporary identity. Before invasion, this site was a kitchen and corroboree ground for the original Indigenous peoples, then the site of the discovery of coal and the first mine by the new settlers, the first garrison, public gardens, a reform school for wayward girls, and a hospital for “imbeciles and idiots” through a number of incarnations as both a general and mental health facility. Engaging with this diverse and rich source in both site and history was beyond the scope of simple documentation: it required a multi-artform approach to encompass the embodied weight of both the actual and poetic hidden histories of this site and its usage. The resulting project, titled SITESOUNDMIN(e)D, brought together a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous poets, writers, composers, musicians, contemporary sound artists, singers, and performers. Its first stage involved a concert performance. Current moves are for an onsite performance involving a broad cross-section of the community, in collaboration with the creator artists.

Keywords: Site-Specific Performance, Contemporary Music Theatre, Site and History, Performed Archaeology, Applied Theatre, Community Theatre, Song Cycle

The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.39-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 555.438KB).

Brian Joyce

Associate Lecturer, and Postgraduate Research Candidate, Drama Department, School of Drama, Fine Arts and Music, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Brian Joyce has been an award-winning artistic director, writer, actor, teacher, and community cultural development worker across a range of companies, practices and communities over 35 years. He has particular interests in applied theatre, site, and indigenous performance. He is a writer and co-producer with Ngarrama Productions, an Aboriginal performance group that tours throughout Australia. His current project concerns health issues in Aboriginal communities. He has been an artistic director for a large number of site specific performance and installation projects. SITESOUNDMIN(e)D was a co-production between Hunter Writers Centre during his tenure as director of the Newcastle Conservatorium UoN, and various community groups.