Brisbane Festival program for PRIMARY Arts

Brisbane Festival program for PRIMARY Arts

This year Brisbane Festival have an exciting project which involves an international artist working with 5 schools in South East QLD.

Project Overview

This project is a unique work that collaborates with primary school aged children between 9 – 12 years of age. The work has toured internationally, encouraging connections between cultural institutions and educational organisations from Edinburgh to Hong Kong to New York. This project has been performed over 20 times at major international arts festivals. Schools will have the opportunity to work with an accomplished International artist who works in both London and Brussels. She specialises in photography, video, film and performance. Her work refers to or often takes the format of the moving image, both in its technical and conceptual form, exploring ideas around language, interpretation and the potential for discrepancies, ruptures, deviations and (mis-) communication.

The performance starts with the audience entering a normal movie cinema where they are blindfolded once they take their seats. A class of approximately 30 children (between the ages of 9 – 12) then file into the row behind the audience and take their seats as the film commences. The children then place a speaking funnel to the audiences ears and they describe what is happening on the screen. Here is a description from the artist:
The project is a live event where the act of watching a film becomes a shared investment: A collaborative and imaginative act between seeing children and blinded adults. It embraces the fact that the act of trying to find the right words to describe (even if at times being ‘at a loss for words’) and of trying to hold onto the consequently unstable images created in the mind’s eye, will always only be an approximation. To articulate in words in order to share experiences involves a struggle, a struggle that seems to be closest to those in the midst of discovering language’s potential and limits.

In focusing on that which lies beyond the sense of sight (leaving the illusory reality of cinema to re-enter that of the imagination), the attention oscillates between each shared but internal world guided by the whispering voice, and the shared physical space of the darkened cinema.
The film screened during the performance will be seen by each group of children for the first time. Hence, each performance will have a new group of describing children. Each screening is preceded by a workshop with the group of children, performing on the day.

The venue for these performances will be GOMA Cinema A. Cinema A is a 220 seat theatre and will be utilised for the 5 matinee sessions. Cinema B is a 110 seat theatre and will be allocated as a break out / workshop space for the school workshops. The dates for the 5 performances will be programmed between Tues 19 – Sat 23 Sept which is the first week of the school holidays.

Draft Timetable
There is a workshop which is held the morning of the performance. Timing to be confirmed

Workshop / Performance Daytiming is currently in draft form and is supplied to give an indication of time commitment required

Time Schedule
10:00am – 10:15am Arrival of children at venue (transport to be confirmed)
10:15am – 11:30am Workshop part 1
11:30am – 11:50am Morning tea
11:50am – 1:15pm Workshop part 2
1:15pm – 2:00pm Lunch break
2:00pm – 3:00pm Rehearsal with children in space
3:00pm – 3:20pm Afternoon tea break, snacks, drinks, restrooms
3:30pm – 4:15pm Performance
4:30pm Children are collected by parents.



To prepare the children and give them an opportunity to become familiar with the ideas and thoughts behind the project, each screening involves a workshop with the children. Here we will be looking into what it is like to be without the sense of sight, and what it means to  create pictures in someone else’s mind’. It will include exercises in image description (both still images and video clips) and function as a mini-training for the performance. If there is a particularly strong interest from the parents of the children, there is a short 15min film screening that can be held at the end of this workshop specifically for the parents of the children. As well as the workshop, there is a mini-rehearsal with each group of children that takes place in the actual performance prior to the performance.

The Film
The film is 30min long, has sound effects but no dialogue. It was made specifically for this performance and is based on numerous try-outs with children that age. It is slow enough for them to describe and is playful in the way it is put together. It was conceived and filmed together with a 9 year old boy and his parents. In terms of the imagery it is therefore very much suited to children that age. The film is experimental and fragmentary, but has a basic narrative structure for the children to follow. It is at times funny, strange, surprising and maybe a little scary (but in a child-like way, i.e. rustling leaves in the forest, fantastical creatures ect.). A big part of the film is its role as a ‘dramaturgical’ line through the audience’s experience, evoking different affective responses from the describing children.

The children, who whisper throughout, change seats twice (the audience however is not aware of this at the beginning). So each child speak to three different audience members. For the audience, this greatly shifts the focus from the film to the child describing, and how every child has his or her own way of describing the image. The experience of the film, which each adult is asked to imagine individually, is hence always going to be fragmentary.

Although the actual content or narrative of the film always depends on the individual child, and what he/she decides to describe, here is a rough description of the film:

The film starts with a scene of a boy who finds a projector in an otherwise empty room, turns it on, and starts watching a film. This film within the film that he watches is set in an urban environment of a city. It continues switching between the room with the boy looking at the screen and the film within the film. At some point the projector breaks and we hear the sound of something collapsing. The sound overpowers the image, blurring the distinction between the ‘film within the film’, the room where the boy is, and the actual cinema space the audience is sat in. After this collapse we come back to the boy, but the room is destroyed. The boy steps out of the rubble into a forest and explores it in the dark with his torch, encountering magical things, until at the end we return back to the initial room where not the boy but a man is sat looking at the film in the film.

This is a free event that is programmed in the first week of the school holidays. Schools and students are required to be available during this time to be eligible to participate in this project. Brisbane Festival will provide snacks and supervision for the duration of the workshop and performances.

In Summary
The artist likes to work with schools to build the workshop and performance into the school’s curriculum. Most importantly we are hoping to bring the principle and teachers on board – especially as the teachers end up playing a key part in making the children feel excited, comfortable but also guiding them through workshop and pre and post show.

We will be putting together a teachers information pack to send through to the participating schools which will provide further detail on the above information.

This is a performance that requires concentration, motivation and curiosity from the children and is a very exciting opportunity for teachers and children to work with an international artist.

Please contact Alyssa Kielty, Program Administrator, if you are interested in being involved in this project.
Level 2, 381 Brunswick Street Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006
PO Box 384 Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006
P: 07 3833 5429 F: 07 3833 5450
[email protected]