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