Against The Tide

A Highway West

Man proceeds in a fog. But when he looks back to judge people of the past, he sees no fog on their path. From his present, which was their way-away future, their path looks perfectly clear to him, good visibility all the way. Looking back he sees the path, he sees the people proceeding, he sees their mistakes, but not the fog.

Milan Kundera

AGAINST THE TIDE: A HIGHWAY WEST is an interactive public artwork in production with the Think+DO Tank. It is an innovative fusion of art, history and technology. With a state of the art mobile application, Against the Tide will take audiences between Sydney’s Circular Quay and Parramatta by ferry. Participants will discover the rich sediment of untold stories on Sydney’s Parramatta River and Harbour, the memory of the water itself.

01 / About The Project

Against the Tide puts history-making in the hands of its audience. Through a series of game-like choices the app will lead audiences down different story pathways - some of them over 250 years old, some as contemporary as the current removal of public housing residents from the historic suburb of Millers Point. Against the Tide challenges traditional viewpoints on the founding and habitation of Sydney, flipping the mythology of the glittering prize of the harbour on its head and reversing the traditional direction of understanding as we look west for answers. It also aims to throw light on the power structures of the city, through its use of this vital waterway, uncovering a history of neglect and corruption, as well as the power of ordinary people to arrest the misuse of their homes and greenspace.

The project will use multiple modes of storytelling to draw these threads together. For example, you may embark on the journey with an interactive game by which your control of your device dictates whether an angry, racist crowd can enter the room of a Chinese cabinetmaker in 1878. He is speaking with you in Cantonese, explaining the riot that you can hear outside. Soon after, you might meet Lt William Dawes who invites you to join his attempt to learn the local Sydney Aboriginal language in 1789. Pulling out from Darling Harbour, suddenly you might be plunged deep into the bass-riddled depths of a rave at the Glebe Point Silos in the early 1990s. Later, you might encounter a mixture of recorded interviews and dramatisations of the longest serving female prisoner in Australia, Sandra Willson. Her story begs of you – who is madder? The criminal or the system that gaols them?

The elasticity of time and the competing viewpoints we are drawing into tension will lead to a contested and rich artwork that will enable you to see patterns forming through time, in the history of this river, which in turn is the history of Australia.

Community engagement and storytelling is a key element of the app and an associated web platform. Through a series of continuing relationships with local elders, consultants and artists we aim to include a great deal of Aboriginal content. Some of the other communities with whom we are engaging include the Chinese community, people experiencing homelessness in Parramatta, old maritime and ferry veterans, and former patients from places like the Gladesville Mental Health Hospital.

02 / Artistic Team

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MARTYN COUTTS, Dramaturg, is an award winning Australian performance artist and dramaturg. His work has been shown in theatres, online, museums and in public space nationally and internationally. His collaboration with Sam Routledge has led to the Green Room nominated Operation, Computer Boy and I Think I Can, which has been shown in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Albany and Pittsburgh in its premiere year. Martyn is an Associate Artist at interdisciplinary company Aphids. He was co-creator of nationally touring work Thrashing Without Looking and currently leads the development for The Family Show. Martyn has co-created the large scale projects Visible City (the keynote project of the 2010 Melbourne Fringe Festival), SAC35 (the 35th anniversary of the Salamanca Arts Centre) and 20 Questions for the Wheeler Centre. As a video artist Martyn has worked with Arena Theatre Company, Is Theatre, Luke George, Sam Routledge, Stuck Pigs Squealing, Dancehouse, Kelly Ryall, Brian Lipson and in 2009 was the recipient of a Green Room award for his video design on The Harry Harlow Project. As a video artist Martyn has worked with Arena Theatre Company, Is Theatre, Luke George, Sam Routledge, Stuck Pigs Squealing, Dancehouse, Kelly Ryall, Brian Lipson and in 2009 was the recipient of a Green Room award for his video design on The Harry Harlow Project. He has been the dramaturg on a number of critically acclaimed dance, performance and interactive works with Aphids, Stompin, Luke George, Brooke Stamp, Martin Del Amo, Paula Lay, Liesel Zink, Thomas Quirk, Tanya Voges, Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphreys. Martyn is a member of art collective Field Theory, a member of the Next Wave Festival board and is the founder of online Live Art resource LALA.
www.martyncoutts.com

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JANE STRATTON, Executive Producer, holds First Class Honours degrees in Politics and Law (Australian National University, National Undergraduate Scholar) and a Masters of Law (New York University). She has worked as a commercial and litigation lawyer, and as a public policy advocate, human rights activist and educator for diverse organisations including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre; Human Rights Watch; Australian Human Rights Commission; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Thailand); International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; Diplomacy Training Program; and the University of New South Wales. She is the author of community guides to human rights and international law (State Library of NSW). In 2009, Jane began the Think+DO Tank to increase community capacity to participate in public life. After developing and running a range of social change programs driven by the arts (How Big Are Your Dreams?, for Aboriginal high school students (2008 – 2011); SHOUT!, a program for refugee & migrant women, 2011 – 2013), Jane began to produce large-scale public art projects independently through Think+DO Tank and Think+DO Tank Foundation. Against The Tide is her concept and she has assembled the project’s artistic team. She is also producing The Thinking Room in Liverpool in 2014 – 2016, an arts/ urban design project funded by Australia Council for the Arts (Community Partnerships).

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JADA ALBERTS, Writer, is from the top end of Australia, Larrakia, Yanuwa, Bardi and Wardaman country. She graduated in 2006 from the Adelaide Centre for the Arts and in 2007 won the Adelaide Critics’ Circle Award for Best Emerging Artist. In 2013, Jada was awarded Playwriting Australia’s ReGEN Seed Commission, and won The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwrights Award. Her play, Brothers Wreck will be staged at Belvoir St. Theatre in 2014, directed by Leah Purcell. Some of Jada’s stage credits include The Shadow King (Malthouse), Hipbone Sticking Out (YijilaYala/ BighART); Frost/Nixon and The Birthday Party (Melbourne Theatre Company); This Heaven (Belvoir); Yibiyung (Belvoir/Malthouse Theatre); Wulamanayuwi and the Seven Pamanui (Darwin Festival); and several national and international tours of Saltbush (Insight Arts). Jada has also participated in creative development projects for Playwriting Australia, Melbourne Workers’ Theatre, Arena Theatre, RealTV and State Theatre Company of South Australia. In 2011, Jada was Assistant Director on Windmill Baby for Belvoir and is an accomplished playwright. Jada has appeared in the feature film Red Hill and on television in Rush (Ten Network), Redfern Now (ABC) and Foxtel’s Wentworth, and Wentworth II (SoHo).

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CATHERINE FREYNE, Historian and Media Producer, has been making social history documentaries at ABC Radio National since 2008. In July 2014 she will take up a position as Historian at the City of Sydney. She studied Australian history at UNSW where her honours thesis Terra Alterius looked at non-Indigenous anxiety about belonging in Australia. In 2010 Catherine was the SMSA-sponsored writer at the Dictionary of Sydney. In 2011 she curated the ABC Innovation/ ABC Archives online project 80 Days That Changed Our Lives. In 2012 she won the NSW Premier’s History Award in the multimedia category for her Hindsight documentary Tit for Tat: The Story of Sandra Willson. She likes Muriel Rukeyser’s notion that ‘the universe is made of stories not atoms’ and has a particular penchant for the true ones. She loves birds, underdogs and primary sources.

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DUNCAN GRAHAM, Writer, holds honours in Medical Science and Anthropology and graduated as an actor from AC Arts, Adelaide in 2003. He ran an award winning Independent company, floogle. In 2014, he is nominated for a NSW Premier’s Literary Award. His work includes: Black Crow Lullabies; one long night in the land of Nod; Ollie and the Minotaur; (Belvoir 09); Cut (Belvoir ‘11); The Love Play (Belvoir//Malthouse/ABC ’10); No Exit from the Roof (STC ’11). Half-Real (Malthouse/ The Border Project / Melbourne Festival, 11). The Highway Crossing (TRS, 2012). Dreams in White, (Griffin Theatre Co). He is currently under commission from Flying Penguin, STCSA, STC & Arthur. He was recipient of the 2008 Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award and shortlisted in 2006, 2010, 2012, 2014. Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Original Work in 2006. Shortlisted for the Griffin Award & The Max Afford Award. Cut shortlisted for the Sydney Theatre Awards, Best New Work. Member of Griffin Theatre Company’s Studio and Associate Playwright at Sydney Theatre Company, 2012. In 2009 he was Associate Artist in Residence at STCSA. He received an Australia Council for the Arts Emerging Writer’s Fellowship (2011).

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KELLY RYALL, Composer and Sound Designer, is a composer, musician and sound artist for theatre, dance and film. Kelly’s recent work includes composition and sound design for Hedda Gabler at Belvoir, the multi-award winning production of The Floating World from Griffin Theatre Company, The Shadow King at the Malthouse Theatre (and nationally via major festivals) and the Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of David Williamson’s Rupert which is touring to the USA in 2014 as part of the World Stages International Theatre Festival at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.
Other productions for the Melbourne Theatre Company include The Crucible, On The Production of Monsters, Return to Earth, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, God of Carnage and Savage River (with Griffin). Kelly composed the productions of Dance of Death, On The Misconception of Oedipus, The Trial (a co-production with The Sydney Theatre Company and Thin Ice), and was sound designer for One Night The Moon at Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. For Griffin Theatre Company Kelly composed music for The Boys, And No More Shall We Part, Dreams In White, Mercury Fur (a co-production with Little Death) and Don’t Say The Words (co-produced by TTC). His compositions featured in the Belvoir productions of Thom Pain and Love Me Tender. At Bell Shakespeare, Kelly composed for Phedre, Henry 4, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and The School for Wives. His work was also heard in the Thin Ice production of Die Winterriesse, presented by Malthouse/Brisbane Festival and based on the music of Schubert.
Kelly’s compositions for dance include Flesh and Bone and Sundowner for Kage (Carlee llow’s Expectation with Arts House) and Pieces for Small Spaces for Lucy Guerin Inc. For film, he composed the music for the short film, Lois and One Night (dir Alex Schepisi), and he has composed for numerous TVCs. For independent theatre companies Kelly composed the music and designed sound for Angus Cerini’s performances Save For Crying, Wretch, Chapters From The Pandemic, Detest, Saving Henry V5 and Puppy Love and his work was heard in the productions of 45downstairs’ Savages, The Man With The September Face and The Harry Harlow Project at Full Tilt, One Red Sky Morning at Red Stitch, Mr Freezy at Arena Theatre Co, The Glory at Hothouse Theatre co, Coop Black Hole Theatre co, The Meat Show by The Town Bikes and Chocolate Monkey, Space Monkey and Love Money from The Amazing Business.
Kelly was a member of band High Pass Filter and toured with them internationally, performing with groups such as the Beastie Boys, The Boredoms, Fugazi, Lee Scratch Perry and Tortoise. He received two Green Room awards in 2009 for Love Monkey and Coop, the Melbourne International Arts Festival Award in 2007 for his year of work and in 2005 he won a Green Room Award and the Fringe Festival Award for outstanding composition and sound design in Arabian Night. Kelly is based in Sydney and his upcoming work includes the Belvoir production of Nora and Tartuffe for Bell Shakespeare, Finale, a short film for Aphids, Forever Now - a contemporary voyager record project and a site-specific sound installation in Sydney’s waterways.
www.kellyryall.com

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LOUANA SAINSBURY, Community Producer, is a proud Darug and Darkinjung woman. She is an experienced young producer and has worked with an wide network of artists and companies such as Belvoir, Urban Theatre Projects, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Festival. Beginning her career as an Assistant Stage Manager, Louana worked with Bangarra Dance Theatre on the national tour of Belong as well as the Glen St Theatre season of the show of earth and sky. She has also worked as an Assistant Stage Manager for the 2012 tour of Sydney Theatre Company play Bloodland. In 2013, Louana completed an 18-month producing mentorship program with Belvoir and Urban Theatre Projects, in which she assisted to produce a number of projects such as Beautiful One Day, Medea, Don’t Take Your Love to Town, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Catalogue of Dreams. She has experience in programming and producing on several major festivals and events including Sydney Festival, Message Sticks Festival and the Festival of Pacific Arts. Recently, Louana also attended The Origins Festival of First Nations in London with the Aboriginal women’s collective Tiddas Take Back. Louana holds a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Theatre and Performance Studies and Film Studies as well as a Certificate III in Live Production, Theatre and Events.

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LIGHTWELL is a studio of creative technologists and designers in Sydney. They combine a a keen understanding of current technologies with an inventive and user-centred approach to design to create digital experiences for today’s audiences. Their clients include the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australian Museum, State Library of NSW, Sydney Living Museums, National Archives of Australia, Newcastle Museum, Taronga Zoo, Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre, Telus Spark (Calgary Science Centre), Queensland Museum, National Museum of Australia, and more. Lightwell, and their project partners FORM and the National Museum of Australia, were awarded the Silver Muse Award in the Interpretive Interactive Category at the American Association of Museums Awards for the One Road project in 2011. Their work, Gwoonwardu Mia Touchtables, was the National Winner at the MAGNA awards in 2012. Lightwell is retained to develop app and web platforms for Against The Tide.
www.lightwell.com.au

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MEDIA STOCKADE is a media production company specialising in documentary, factual programs and online content. They combine years of experience, awards, and strong track records in delivering high quality broadcast documentary television to Australian and international audiences. Their most recent productions include I Am A Girl, a lyrical documentary that has gone into international release; and Surgery Ship, a documentary set to screen on SBS in late 2013. Led by film makers Rebecca Barry and Madeleine Hetherton, working with leading producer, Ester Harding, Media Stockade was nominated for three awards at the 2014 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for I Am A Girl. Media Stockade is the film partner for Against The Tide. It will collaboratively produce video and multi-media content for both the app and the website.
www.mediastockade.com