As the festive season unfolds and the year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the extraordinary...
I’m thrilled to share an exciting update with all of you. Just recently, our team returned from an action-packed trip to Melbourne, where we dove headfirst into a maelstrom of events, including the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), RISING (a vibrant festival celebrating music, food, art, and culture under moonlight) and the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals (CAIAF) development site (yes, our beloved Ten Days on the Island is a proud member!). Trust me when I say, it was an absolute whirlwind, especially for our incoming Artistic Director, Marnie Karmelita, who embarked on her first week in the job.
Now, you might be wondering, “What exactly did all this excitement entail?” Well, let me take you through it!
As the Executive Producer of Ten Days, and a theatre maker myself, APAM holds a special place in my heart. It’s an invaluable opportunity for me to connect with colleagues, artists, and companies from across the globe. Imagine being part of a curated program of engaging conversations, riveting discussions, captivating presentations, and impactful meetings about all the topics you love with the people you admire most. Hearing artists share their ideas and projects firsthand is truly a privilege and one of the most rewarding aspects of my role.
RISING, was a different pace thankfully, offering Marnie and I an extraordinary chance to immerse ourselves in compelling and awe-inspiring large-scale artworks and full-length performances from around the world. The First Nations program left us breathless with its powerful exhibitions like Shadow Spirit, showcasing incredible works by talented artists such as Julie Gough, a Trawlwoolway artist from Lutruwita. And the live performances…they were unforgettable! Bungul, featuring the music of Gurrumul and mesmerising Yolgnu dancers and songmen performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tracker, a dance theatre work by the talented Dan Riley for Australian Dance Theatre and Ilbijerri Theatre, and not to forget our very own Tasmanian production Hide the Dog, which triumphantly presented at the Arts Centre after acclaimed seasons in Hobart, Burnie, and Sydney. Congratulations to Sinsa Mansell and the Performing Lines TAS team for producing such a successful tour.
Believe me when I say that Marnie and I were on a mission to experience as much as possible. Our schedule was jam-packed with exhibitions, live music, theatre performances, films, and dance shows. One particular gem that captured our hearts was The Dan Daw Show, an incredible performance created and delivered by Dan Daw, an artist who identifies as queer and embraces his identity as a performer with a disability. This “candid, kinky, and captivating” masterpiece delved into themes of shame, pride, intimacy, and resilience. We were left in awe as this fresh, funny, and moving work received a well-deserved standing ovation from a full house. Moments like these remind me why I fell in love with what I do in the first place!
During our Melbourne adventure, we also had the privilege of visiting various artist development programs and organisations like Collingwood Yards, Dancehouse, Arts House, Footscray Arts, and many more. We had the incredible opportunity to learn from and connect with First Nations artists and producers from across Australia, Aotearoa/NZ, and Canada. They generously shared their storytelling processes and cultural practices, enlightening us with their wisdom.
But it wasn’t just about experiencing outstanding art and engaging with talented artists. We also had the chance to delve into important discussions centred around themes of cultural safety, self-determination, creative protocols, and avenues for collaboration and support for artists and organisations producing disability-led work. Their valuable insights opened our minds to fresh approaches as we continuously strive to develop and enhance our access and inclusion strategy within the Ten Days festival framework.
And let’s not forget our responsibility to address climate change. We had the pleasure of exchanging ideas and learning from artists and organisations who are actively seeking creative solutions to some of the most pressing questions of our time. Together, we explored new models of shared representation and leadership, focusing on the values of alliance, partnership, and cooperation. The future looks brighter when we join forces to create, present, and tour work that has a positive impact on our world.
To our delight, we bumped into several Tasmanian artists during this exhilarating time in Melbourne. At the CAIAF meeting, we were captivated by Terrapin Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sam Routledge, as he presented an update on their latest work, How We Found What We Had Lost. This innovative, eloquent, and playful show, written by the award-winning playwright Finnegan Kruckemeyer, is being developed for family audiences in partnership with Japanese collaborators Aichi Prefectural Theatre. Scheduled to premiere in 2025, we’re thrilled to be a co-commissioning partner for this exciting project. Additionally, we had the pleasure of witnessing the impressive work of Launceston-based Assembly 197 at APAM and experiencing Tasdance associate artist Amber McCartney’s extraordinary solo, Tiny Infinite Deaths, presented at RISING.
We left Melbourne with our hearts brimming with inspiration and excitement. We encountered incredible performances and had the privilege of meeting phenomenal artists whose work we cannot wait to share with you. As we embark on this journey towards Marnie’s first Ten Days festival in 2025, I am eager to keep you all in the loop and share more updates over the next 12 months. Stay tuned, my festival friends. This is just the beginning, and together, we are about to create something truly extraordinary.
Ten Days on the Island