Ribbons of Steel Performance
The Arts Community of the Hunter Region presented a large scale, visually spectacular performance commemorating and celebrating the 84 years of BHP steelmaking in Newcastle, marking the day of closure.
Co-directed by David Branson and Brian Joyce the performance included work by students from local and regional schools, local artists and performers, BHP employees and their families. The performance included a 24-minute cantata featuring an 80 strong choir and a 28-piece brass band, stiltwalking, acrobatics, aerial work, fire sculptures and performance presented in processional and staged performance.
Themes and content were drawn from the corporate and community knowledge associated with the BHP allowing the performance to present cultural outcomes consistent with the history of steelmaking in Newcastle.
Sculpting Steel for 'Borg'
Born out of an intensive workshop and skills development program presented by national and international masters, the work brought together an enormous and diverse range of artistic skills. More importantly the project recognised there is a new future ahead for the city and its people and aims to leave an ongoing legacy and to provide new work opportunities in the developing arts industry.
Artistic Directors - David Branson and Brian Joyce
Writer/Libretto Brian Joyce
Composer Phillip Rutherford
Set Design/Special Effects Clint Hurrell
Lighting Design/Production Manager David Grinstead
Sound Design Craig Macdonald (Nova Sound and Lighting)
Stage Manager Andrew Macdonald
Lighting/Specialist Effects Oz
Pyrotechnics/Special Effects Adam Kealy (erth)
Sets and Design Stuart Vaskess
Technical Support Jenny Brown
Included BHP Workers from the 22 departments of BHP Steelmaking:- David Beverley, Roger Schmakeit, Kevin Legg, Steve Kuehn, Graham Barker, Adam Lepidis, Virginia Kibble, Mark Scott, David Roach, Julie Parson, Michael Von Balkom, Kevin Mantle, Nigel Stace, John Stevenson, Steve Ford, Peter Morris, Glenn Beatty, Danny Boyd, Michelle Arther
The characters represented the 4 generations of Newcastle BHP workers
Edith Sandra Rosier
Robert Danny Boyd
Gary Lance Anderson
Luciana Jillian Searant
John Nigel Stace
Maria Linden Allen
Eddie Brooke Shepherd
Phillip Rutherford and
Emma Pratt at Rehearsal
Bass - Christopher Allen
Soprano Emma Pratt
This production was a courageous experiment undertaken under severe time restrictions. Many working on it would have valued the 2 ½ years accorded the official closure to do full justice to the depth of experience and feelings associated with the 84 year history of Newcastle Steelmaking at BHP and its culmination next month
The recording of working history needs to be given its value at all times, not merely as a brief postscript to the end of a corporate era. Though we have come at a time of ending it has been a celebration of life and lives lived, and the life force that carries one into the future.
We have been humbled by the richness of experience and emotion we have encountered in this process and its struggle to be heard over the obstacles that would stifle this
We offer our thanks to: all the workers of BHP who have shared their experiences, knowledge and time in developing this production, the performers and young artists who bravely gave form to this material, the school communities who provided their youthful energy and visions and all who have helped in bringing this unusual production of such disparate parts together.
Thanks from Arts Hunter to Bob Cook, Jennifer Brown, Kate Croll, Freewheels Theatre, Vicki Newman, Mary Gayner, Arc-Up Studios, 2 Til 5 Theatre, Rod Ansell, Lyn Cook
David Branson and Brian Joyce
From the Earth - Bodyweather
My Aching Back - Ommi Theatre
Newcastle Youth's Eyeview - 2 Til 5
The Garden - Angela Lee Dance
Clown History - San Clemente (Thu, Sat)
The Alchemist - Mayfield East (Mon, Wed)
Working Hard - Mayfield East (Mon, Wed)
BHP Machine - Mayfield West (Wed)
The Big Australian Parade
Unicycle Parade - Carrington Public School
Clown History - San Clemente (Wed)
Coming Home - Tighes Hill Public (Thu, Sat)
Main Performance and Cantata in the Repository
Repercussions - Massed Drums and Percussion Group
Lead by Ortiz Pinto
A group of local drummers and percussionists worked on several different percussion styles which were utilised during the performance in three ways. The announcement of new activity leading audience from site to site. Pieces with different noise, sounds and rhythms of the BHP factory and as an integral part of the music and ambience within the repository leading to the conflagration.
Repercussion - Members - Ross Brown, Andrew Burrows, Garth Crooksley, Joe Donley, Michael Doyle, Peter Harbulot, Jeff Highland, Tom Jones, Allen Leadbetter, Jewelz Lee, Megan Long, Sue Long, Janette Lovell, Andrew Macdonald, Lucas Maidment, Tony Reddan, Kia Tipping, Vicky Walker, Gillian Wherret, Darrin Wiggins
Choreographer - Tess de Quincey
Tess de Quincey choreographs movement theatre based upon the Japanese dance theatre called Butoh and produced a work that comes from the origins of steel called "from the earth". A Second piece The Battery was produced in conjunction with BHP workers at the coke ovens and is about the way in which repeated activity in the work environment impacts upon the body and it's movement. Dancers - Narelle Hurley, Phillip Mills, Esther Mugambi, Lizzie Thomson with BHP Workers from the Coke Ovens
Stiltwalkers and Drummers
exit from Stage
Ommi Theatre Mime Performers
Angela Lee Choreographer
Piece 1 - Lunchtime Focusing on the need of the workers to reflect and find solace in their own quite time. Piece 2 - The Garden - The workers who have died at the BHP are represented by a character that is making a memorial garden to their honour. Dancers Katinka Smit, Damien Frost, Liesl Hopkins, Alexia Wurz, Jane Farrah, and Angela Lee
2 til 5 Youth Theatre
Newcastle Youth's Eyeview - 2 til 5 Youth Theatre - Tactical Response Group
By David Branson, The Performers and Tutor Amanda Roff
This piece involved an exploration of the significant images that make up a Newcastle teenager's perspective not including the BHP. The Beach, the Knights and Team Culture performed in street theatre style. Members - Zane Alcorn, Jema Ayton, Erin Blackwell, Rod Graham, Tom Jones, Angie Turner
erth Visual and Physical
erth trained the Aerialists on the outside wall of the repository for Fridge Magnets, a piece where suspended performers tell the scientific facts and stories about the process of steelmaking. In the repository, erth fled performers in the Cantata, members of management of the BHP and large inflated hearts. erth also provides The BIG Australian, a character who lives in big Harry's place, in fact it is Big Harry. While friendly, it is obvious that Harry is going for good. Accompanied by stilt walkers and drummers he dispenses lollies, jobs and waves goodbye.
Physical Performance Troupe Aerials, Stilt Walkers and Performance
BHP Guide Stiltwalkers
Trained by Rachel Buchan and Ryan Taplin (erth), David Clarkson (Stalker) and David Branson
BHP Guides, performers on stilts and drummers, perform a piece that involves a dance on stilts and The Welcome where the characters induct the audience to BHP and it's safety procedures.
Blast Furnace. The final outcome of all steel making process. It is the forge, if you like, when the elements come together. The blast furnace motive was used several times throughout.
The first time it was projected in Fridge Magnets on the outside wall of the Repository and secondly as people enter to sit. The blast furnace sculpture was presented in the final section of the performance where it was brought in and ignited into a phoenix representing the hopes and change for the people of Newcastle.
rehearsing with the Stiltwalkers
Artists Zane Alcorn, Linden Allen, Helen Atkinson, Jema Ayton, Aaron Beasley, Erin Blackwell, Scott Blick, Ross Brown, Jonathan Burrows, Mary Carryer, Corrina Collins, Daniela Edwards, Owen Elliott, Brett Garland, Joel Goodsir, Cain Gorfine, Rod Graham, Tim Henderson, Kate Jackson, Tom Jones, Sarah Mathieson, Zoh McEnally, Di Muldoway, Krichelle Parkinson,
Chris Saxby, Brooke Shepherd, Angie Turner, Emma Wafer, Katherine Zeleski
Ribbons of Steel Cantata
Composed by Phillip Rutherford and Libretto by Brian Joyce
The Waratah Brass 28 piece and the Hunter Singers combined with the Sing 2001 Choir, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie singers, to make the choir who will sang the Cantata conducted by Ron Grice. This piece represents the feelings of several generations of a Newcastle people in the closing of the BHP Steelworks. The Cantata was composed by Phillip Rutherford with libretto by Brian Joyce and is performed with two soloists, Christopher Allen and Emma Pratt
My Aching Back
Mime Group Rehearsing
Niz Jabour - Writer and Director Ommi Theatre
A work that encapsulates the effects of heavy industry upon the human body. In this sketch it's not the skin of the body that is itching it's the soul of the worker. Artists Lenae Bonkain, Ron Giggins, Jessica Macokatic, Sarah Mathieson, Alisha Roderick, Stacey Sulivan
Niz Jabour - Writer and Director Ommi Theatre
If there is no culture to act as a tent to be united within, then nature will unite us. This is a work that speaks of the multicultural nature of the workforce of BHP and that, which makes up the Australian identity. Artists Lenae Bonkain, Ron Giggins, Jessica Macokatic, Sarah Mathieson, Alisha Roderick, Stacey Sulivan
Carrington Public School
Clown History of BHP
Ribbons of Steel
San Clemente High School
A comic history of BHP highlights told through clowning and slapstick
Tighes Hill Public School
A series of dramatic scenes about a parent coming home from work from the BHP over 5 different periods, 1940s 1999.
Mayfield East School
A drama about the creation of steel through bringing different elements together
Lyn Cook - Creative Consultant
Dept School Education
with Brian Joyce - Director
Ribbons of Steel
Working Hard - Dance Piece
Mayfield East Public
Mayfield West Demonstration and Pre-School
A combined movement sculpture of a poetic and industrial machine accompanied by trash percussion band
Ortiz Pinto leading
Repercussion off stage
Audience watching the show
The BHP Ribbons of Steel Quilt
Quilt blocks were produced by people associated with the steelworks and were put together to make a quilt
Ribbons of Steel Quilt
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