What would you say if everyone was listening? A citizens’ assembly. A series of first speeches from those often unheard. Personal visions for our collective future.
Around the world, fuelled by conservative politicians and media commentators, the darkest side of nationalism has led to the public vilification of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, Muslims, First Nations People, and – by extension – anyone considered ‘foreign’ or ‘other’.
Congress intentionally works against stereotypical representations of the ‘other’ by providing a platform for direct address to the public. It puts faces and names and stories to ‘difference’, subverting dominant narratives of what it means to be living in contemporary society and our hugely inter-connected world.
Congress connects the personal with the political by match making citizens with professional wordsmiths. Ten professional writers and ten community members have been invited to meet to work together to write and deliver the citizen’s own first speech. Together, these couples have created first speeches for those often unheard; public declarations that address personal visions for our collective future.
Taking the form of a ritualised performance, intersected with community and cultural dance, this project unashamedly encourages citizens to agitate for change and transformation
Congress premiered as the closing event of Melbourne Fringe. Presented by Darebin Arts at Northcote Town Hall. Saturday 1 October 2017.
Creation and Direction: Tristan Meecham and Bec Reid
Lighting and Sound Design: Nick Roux
Stage Management: Rory Cadman
Production Manager: Emily O’Brien.
Audio Description: Will McRostie, Description Victoria
Auslan Interpretation: Erin Gook and Paul Heuston
Speakers: Vidya Rajan, Keira Leike, Helen Bayes, Ethan Pham, Davey Thompson, Hannah Murphy Walsh, Buster Murphy, Geraldine Cook, Ezeldin Deng, Barry T. Nguyen
Wordsmiths: Benjamin Law, Suzie Miller, Melanie Joosten, Richard Watts, Roger Monk, Carly Findlay, Alia Gabres, Cynthia Troup, Solomon Salew, Terry Barnes
Dancers: Lorna Hannan, Tama Tatau, Jungle City Studios, Orlando and Juno de Zwart, Wade Sera-Matiara aka Flyoi