Liveworks: Return to Escape from Woomera                  

In 2003 Migration Minister Phillip Ruddock and Arts Minister Rod Kemp were furious with the Australia Council’s New Media Arts Board for funding the video game Escape from Woomera. Woomera was then a refugee detention centre. In anticipation of Sydney performance collective Applespiel’s revival of the work as a live gaming and performance experience, we’re linking you to Melanie Swalwell’s fine account of the saga in our archive.

While Ruddock thought the game would encourage a refugee breakout, some refugee advocates thought it trivialised the plight of refugees, but others saw it as encouraging empathy: “Rather than being a game ridiculing the situation of detainees, EFW will enable those who are unlikely to ever get inside a detention centre, to imagine themselves there. Virtually recreating these sites elegantly undermines their ‘no go’ status, simultaneously shrinking the space between ‘us’ and ‘them’.”

With the cruel treatment of refugees escalating in Australia, Return to Escape from Woomera is a timely addition to the Liveworks program from an ever-inventive ensemble with participants including refugees and advocates.

You can read Melanie Swalwell’s article here.

Performance Space, Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art: Applespiel, Return to Escape from Woomera, artists Nathan Harrison, Nikki Kennedy, Emma McManus, Rachel Roberts, Mark Rogers, Simon Vaughan, dramaturg Paschal Daantos Berry, technical Director Solomon Thomas; Carriageworks, Sydney, 24-27 Oct

Top image credit: Video game still, Escape from Woomera

8 September 2018