Breaksea: Community engagement creates double feature

Breaksea: Community engagement creates double feature

Regional Arts WA

This story was submitted by a member of the regional arts sector: Breaksea. We love sharing stories from the sector. If you want to find out how to submit your own stories, take a look at the submit your story page. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Breaksea’s Caretaker of Lost Selves & View from the Magpie’s Nest is the culmination of 14 months of community engagement work with the Great Southern community, generously supported by Regional Arts WA, Australian Government, City of Albany, Albany Advertiser, Department of Local Government, Sport & Culture, and Lotterywest.

The community engagement process involved a year of workshops with Breaksea artists, including Artistic Director Matt Ward, Writer Tim Dunn, Vocal Specialist Pia Adriana Harris, Devising Director Rachael Colmer, Creative Producer Marianthe Loucataris, Filmmaker Rob Castiglione, Visual Artist Jen Mitchell, Composer Jonathan Brain & Dancer / Choreographer Rita Bush, allowing whatever emerged in these workshops to shape a new work based on stories of culture, identity, diversity and collaboration.

Three people stand on stage. Breaksea’s Pia Harris, Matt Ward, and Jonathan Brain. Photo courtesy of Breaksea.

Breaksea’s work first emerged in 2017 under the direction of Matt Ward as part of the Artist-in-residence scheme at the Vancouver Arts Centre. Since 2017, Breaksea has delivered programs in Albany, Denmark, Mount Barker, Gnowangerup, Katanning, Cosy Corner, Bunbury, Perth, Wellstead, Gardiner, Kojonup and as far north as Karratha. In 2022, Breaksea will extend engagement programs to Toodyay and Kununurra.

Major projects have included Pilgrims of the Sea (Vancouver Arts Centre); Drift (Albany’s Historic Whaling Station); By Other Eyes (Albany Field of Light: Avenue of Honour); Shoal (Albany Entertainment Centre, Kidogo Art House); Resonating Stories, Shining Song (City of Joondalup); Breaksea Singing Festival (Kidogo Art House); Elton John Choral Project (City of Joondalup); Breaksea @ The Rechabite (Rechabite Hall, Northbridge); Breaksea Film Art Trail (Breaksea Festival 2021); and, Kaawar Song Project (Vancouver Street Festival, Noongar Boodja documentary Community Arts Network WA).

In 2020 Breaksea was awarded a Highly Commended in the WA Tourism Awards Inspire category for our Drift production at the Albany Whaling Station and were shortlisted for the Regional Achievement Award for our By Other Eyes program 2018-2020.

Breaksea specialises in facilitating communities in the co-creation of new performance work. The upcoming performances of Caretaker of Lost Selves, and the first half View from the Magpie’s Nest by Naomi Lake and Emily O’Brien from Albany Light Opera & Theatre Company’s Let’s Shine, is the latest co-created community production.

Breaksea’s unique process has yielded a double bill of View from the Magpie’s Nest: an immersive movement piece choreographed by Emily O’Brien with beautiful narration written by Naomi Lake and performed by “Let’s Shine” a performing group for people living with a disability. “We are so excited to be working with Breaksea to create this inspirational performance and providing Breaksea Mentorship for writer Naomi Lake with Diane Wolfer and dancer Emily O’Brien with Rita Bush,” Albany Light Opera & Theatre Company’s Janet McArtney enthuses.

Black and white line image of a building. Artwork being projected in Caretaker of the Lost Selves by Jen Mitchell. Image courtesy of Breaksea.

In Caretaker of Lost Selves we have a magical multi-arts experience where true stories of migration, cultural diversity and importance of creativity weave a mysterious tapestry; a play with musical interludes, movement and projected visual art that promises a feast for the eyes and the soul. “It is really incredible to see the ideas and stories from our initial workshops making into the final show,” Artistic Director Matt Ward shares. 

Both pieces feature newly composed music performed live from composer Jonathan Brain, and in Caretaker of Lost Selves, a huge and talented cast including Albany artists Thomas Croucher, Carmen Fasolo, Beck Quicke, Zak Launay, Breaksea Youth Mentees Imogen Taylor and Jasmine Reeves, Albany Senior High School Choir, Mount Barker Community College Choir alongside internationally acclaimed soprano Pia Adriana Harris, Rachael Colmer, Tim Dunn, Rita Bush, Jen Mitchell, Rob Castiglione, creative producer Marianthe Loucataris and directed by celebrated Breaksea Artistic Director Matt Ward.

Mentorship is important to Breaksea and features strongly in all their produced projects. “We are so delighted to continue to provide mentorship to Breaksea Youth, it really is at the heart of everything we do,” Breaksea Youth Mentorship Coordinator Pia Adriana Harris stated.

This double bill is for the whole family to enjoy and can be seen at two sessions (4pm and 7:30pm) at the Albany Entertainment Centre on Friday 26 November.

The Albany and wider Great Southern community are invited to experience the power of Breaksea music, theatre and storytelling at the Albany Entertainment Centre Friday 26 November 4pm and 7:30pm directed by Artistic Director Matt Ward.

Tickets for the double billing of Caretaker of the Lost Selves and View from the Magpie’s Nest are available from Perth Theatre Trust.

These projects have been funded with help of a Regional Arts Resilience Grant and RAF Project Grant.

The Regional Arts Resilience Grants program is funded through the State Government’s Regional Arts and Cultural Investment Program.

The Regional Arts Fund is designed to benefit regional and remote arts practitioners, arts workers, audiences and communities. The program is managed nationally by Regional Arts Australia and is delivered in all states and the Northern Territory by Regional Program Administrators.

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