A Note from Performing Lines
2020, for all its challenges, has been a significant year for the Performing Lines team. We took Anthem, a blistering and powerful work about contemporary Australia in all of its political complexity and cultural diversity, to Sydney Festival and Perth Festival after premiering at Arts Centre Melbourne for Melbourne Festival. The Rise and Fall of Saint George by Paul Mac and Lachlan Philpott came to life in Hamer Hall as part of Midsumma, bringing together New South Welsh and Victorian artists for a joyful piece of queer storytelling.
Jessie Lloyd‘s Mission Songs Project, which explores the forgotten history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music written and adapted by those who lived on the missions, embarked on the start of a national tour. For obvious reasons the tour was interrupted but, in a testament to Jessie’s ingenuity, the whole show was reimagined as a 10 part digital series which now lives in perpetuity on ABC iView. Up north in Brisbane Festival, The Farm‘s Throttle became our first show to open post-covid engaging a host of volunteer dancers for a wild and immersive B-movie horror experience.
In Sydney Betty Grumble‘s extraordinary queer feminist call to arms, Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh*t, premiered to a sold out season at The Red Rattler in Marrickville. And after five years of development, Sunshine Super Girl, Andrea James‘ biographical play about Australian sporting legend Evonne Goolagong, took to the stage for the first time for a world premiere on Wiradjuri Country with Griffith Regional Theatre.
And leaning into the digital infrastructure that has arisen as a result of covid Performing Lines also delivered a groundbreaking digital residency with Merrigong Theatre, offering new and accessible ways of engaging with regional artists.
Our beloved Melbourne branch did it tough this year, with Zoom replacing the usual bustling theatre foyers and impossible-to-book rehearsal rooms. 2020 started with an almighty bang though, as the stories set on iconic Melbourne train lines met new and enthusiastic audiences in Sydney Festival and Perth Festival through Anthem. Our beautiful Indonesian collaborators joined us as part of Asia TOPA with The Seen and Unseen, an unforgettable experience witnessed by colleagues from all over the world who gathered for what turned out to be some pre-lockdown “last drinks” at APAM. Pony Express forged through the knots of Deep Time with their creative development of Epoch Wars, supported by Asia TOPA and also profiled at APAM.
As the first lockdown turned to sourdough starter clichés, Pony Express took their battle to an online world-building lab with 5 new collaborators across Asia, whilst the team of The Seen and Unseen made a mini-documentary about the creative process. We flinchingly embraced the word “pivot” whilst churning out revised plans and new funding applications, re-wrote Covid safety plans to incorporate the latest info from our daily media briefings, and gradually watched the infection numbers drop. Despite sealed state borders, Liesel Zink’s ambitious work for 100 performers, Us and All Of This, saw a creative development on the Gold Coast, and THE RABBLE were the first brave souls to venture back in the rehearsal room to develop their new work YES – duly masked and hand-sanitised – as soon as that was allowed in Melbourne. To cap off the year, together with Metro Tunnel and Arts Centre Melbourne we supported an open EOI process for a new public realm commission led by Deaf and disabled artists – and this commission of Women’s Circus is one to truly look forward to as audiences connect with shows once more in 2021.