An assembly. A curatorial match making project across words, intention and representation. A series of ‘first speeches’ from citizens often unheard. Personal visions for our collective future.
Not long after a new Parliament is opened, newly elected Members have the opportunity to make their first speech (previously maiden speech). A Member’s first speech is a significant occasion and an opportunity to outline to Parliament what they hope to achieve. Members’ first speeches are as diverse as the people they represent in their electorates. Many Members choose to express their political views and goals in their first speeches while others thank their supporters or speak about personal experiences. Members may also mention specific issues affecting the people in their electorates, such as health or education, or speak about financial or economic matters. There is a convention in the House that a first speech is heard without interjection or interruption, and the Chair normally draws the attention of the House to the fact that a Member is making a first speech. Australian Parliament Website
Collaborating with a cross-section of our diverse community, CONGRESS is a citizens’ assembly and a platform for people to have their say and be heard. CONGRESS connects the personal with the political by match making citizens with professional wordsmiths. Ten professional writers and ten community members will be invited to meet to work together to write and deliver their own first speech. These writers and speakers will be curated by All The Queens Men, guided by principles of gender diversity, culturally diversity, pan- demographics, geographic diversity and inclusive of abilities. Together, these couples will create first speeches for those often unheard; public declarations that address personal visions for our collective future.
Despite fractured political systems, first speeches (previously maiden speeches) often showcase moments of personal clarity, conviction and vision. These speeches foreshadow a political trajectory, a through-line of a career. CONGRESS is a performance framework that provides a voice and profile for ‘Everyday Experts’ to deliver their very own first speech to a captive audience. These speeches may be political, social or esoteric – the unifying thematic is that each will outline a vision for the future. In response to America’s current political horserace and Australia’s recent political pin-balling, CONGRESS presents a democratic counterpoint; a creative action that encourage citizens to participate, to agitate, to inspire change and transformation.
Presented as the closing ceremony of the 2017 Melbourne Fringe Festival in the Northcote Town Hall, CONGRESS will take the form of a ritualised performance experience; providing opportunity and audience to those that may not be represented in the current political system, showcasing how easy it is parallel inclusivity and diversity.
Presented as the closing event of the 2017 Melbourne Fringe Festival with Darebin Arts.
Northcote Town Hall – Sunday 1 October at 5.00pm.
Book tickets here
Created by Tristan Meecham and Bec Reid.
AV / Lighting / Sound Design by Nick Roux.
Congress speeches written by Benjamin Law, Suzie Miller, Melanie Joosten, Richard Watts, Bryan Andy, Carly Findlay, Alia Gabres, Cynthia Troup, Solomon Salew, Terry Barnes.
Congress speeches delivered by Vidya Rajan, Keira Leike, Helen Bayes, Ethan Plan, Buster Murphy, Ezeldin Deng, Hannah Morphy Walsh and Geraldine Cook.