in the loop: remembered journeys

norpa’s railway wonderland

Railway Wonderland, NORPA

Railway Wonderland, NORPA

Railway Wonderland, NORPA

Based in Lismore, Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) is one the countries most ambitious and innovative regional arts organisations. Their 2012 program consists of over 13 productions across the year, ranging from children’s shows such as ERTH’s magical I Bunyip to the extraordinary physical theatre of CIRCA; from Shaun Parker’s impressive youth dance work The Yard to Finucane & Smith’s saucy Caravan Burlesque.

As well as being an important presenting venue on the east coast touring circuit, NORPA also creates a range of inhouse works through their Generator creative development program. Director Julian Louis says “creating our own home grown theatre, through Generator, that is limitless and adventurous is the heart of NORPA. It’s what our audiences love to see” (website).

In 2011 the Generator program saw the beginnings of a three-year partnership with Southern Cross University to create the Home Project, looking at the specific nature of homelessness in regional Australia, particularly in Lismore. NORPA also created the site-specific work Open House with local acrobatic family Gareth Bjaaland, Bronte Webster and their son Gwyn, performing in, around and on a vacated house.

The next Generator project, just about to premier, is Railway Wonderland which takes place on a platform in the old railway station. Drawn from interviews from the local community, the work sees four characters waiting at the station, ready to leave for anywhere. An old lady arrives and begins to tell her story—that of a young immigrant trying to find her place in this regional town. The devised work is directed by Julian Louis, scripted by Janis Balodis and the performers include the always charismatic Katia Molino, with choreography by Emma Saunders (from the Fondue Set) and music by Michael Askill. It looks to be a captivating journey and worth the trip to Lismore.

NORPA, Railway Wonderland, March 27 – 31, 2012, 8pm, Lismore Railway Station; http://www.norpa.org.au/; http://www.generator.org.au/

RealTime issue #107 Feb-March 2012 pg. web

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20 March 2012