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Milk Crate Theatre 2019 Year in Review

I think it is safe to say 2019 was our most ambitious - and successful - year to date!

Throughout 2019 we offered a total of 9 workshop programs to 106 participants, several of which fed into our mid-year production Natural Order (more on that later!) in the form of workshops and masterclasses. We had a successful year establishing recurring workshops with Community Partners - The Exodus Foundation, Evolve Housing for Youth and the Women's and Girl's Emergency Centre alongside our regular programming with Ozanam Learning Centre (St Vincent de Paul Society).

We kicked off the year with our work-in-progress showing of Interim - a new work creatively led by participants of our Developing Artist Program Georgina Wood and Pauline Trenerry, who devised and worked with residents of the Waterloo Housing Estate to perform an original new work-in-development that captured the personal connection these residents have to Waterloo, and the feelings of uncertainty around future redevelopments of a place that so many call home. This development was made possible by 107, who asked us to partner with them to produce their writing residency program - The New Plot (made possible by the Australia Council for the Arts). Under the mentorship of theatre director James Dalton, Georgina and Pauline took their facilitation and devising skills to a whole new level, resulting in a warm and intimate evening comprising a discussion with the audience, and presentation of some core scenes about life and connections in the estate.

Interim. Photo by Patrick Boland

The highlight of 2019 was of course - our multi art-form, immersive production Natural Order at Petersham Town Hall in August during Homelessness Week. Performing to sell-out audiences over 10 performances, our participants presented the work they created and collaborated on for over 18 months.

Led by our Artistic Director Margot Politis, our participants examined the personal, political and philosophical around the systems that keep us 'in our place'. What determines our lot in life, and posing the question - can we ever get past where we are today, or are we destined to be tied to a natural world order.

Natural Order. Photo by Patrick Boland.

Our participants were involved in several planning days, alongside workshops designed specifically to contribute to the content and design of Natural Order. These included Cabaret with Tim Hansen (supported by Vashti Hughes & Lucy Watson), Object and Set Intensive with David Capra (supported by Lucy Watson), Live Narrative with Margot Politis (supported by Felicity Nicol, Jacqueline Marriott & Lucy Watson), Sound Intensive with James Brown and Bella Martin, In the Beginning with Kay Armstrong (supported by Lucy Watson), Physical Theatre with Scott Witt (supported by Jacqueline Marriott, 2018), Screenwriting with Sarah Emery (supported by Paul Walker, 2018), Screen Acting with Graeme Rhodes (supported by Lucy Watson,2018).

The end result was a deeply moving, funny and thought-provoking installation performance piece - one that saw us say goodbye to the traditional theatre format and create an immersive 360 degree style of audience engagement with outstanding results. We are extremely grateful to everyone who came along and supported the show and so proud of our participants. For more information about Natural Order, you can visit the dedicated website -

We were also fortunate to work with a group of young people, residents of Evolve Housing for Youth. Together with artists Felicity Nicol, Paul Walker, Aslam Abdus-Samad and filmmaker David Molloy the young people create a series of compiled content to create the film Exquisite Corpse . What resulted was a highly entertaining and fun video featuring all the participants that dropped into our workshops toward the end of 2019. The film was premiered at the Evolve Housing for Youth Christmas party and Milk Crate Theatre's own End of Year Party.

We also continued our creative workshops with the Women's and Girl's Emergency Centre, led by Artists Cali Prince, Jacqueline Marriott and Ella Prince. This week the women and children we have engaged in our workshops will present all the pieces they have created during the past 10 weeks. We've had a wonderful turnout this year and continue to be surprised by the work these participants create each week.

To round out our programs for the year, we were fortunate enough to continue our meaningful partnership with The Exodus Foundation in Ashfield, which included the first ever drama presentation in November of this year. Creatively led by Facilitator Alice Williams with Paul Walker, with additional support by Jessica Saras. The final performance pieces wowed audience with an afternoon of theatre, singing and dancing by our participants, accompanied by the Exodus Band - The Battlers. We are extremely excited to continue in this partnership for 2020 and hear more stories of inclusion, happiness and love from a wider community.

Exodus Participant Dawn Tonke, at our Drama Presentation at Exodus Foundation. Photo by Lisa Walton.

Across all of our performances and workshops this year, we have seen our participants expand themselves even further than we could have imagined both personally and through the art of performance. 2019 has truly been one of the most special years for our company and we can not wait to keep exploring and creatively challenge ourselves as a company and community as we go into our 20th year of operation in 2020.

As the end of the year approaches, we'd like you to consider a gift to Milk Crate Theatre to help us continue with our amazing performing arts programs for people who have experienced homelessness. A great place to feel a sense of connection, joy and togetherness is often in the theatre.

YOUR gifts can help us achieve:

- $50 will provide materials for a creative workshops

- $100 covers the cost of a venue to host a workshop day

- $500 delivers a one-off masterclass with leading professional artists or provides a professional photographer or filmmaker to work with us

Donate NOW and change someone's story.

We would like to thank everyone for coming along to our various works this year, and we hope you will join us in celebrating our 20th year next year. We wish you all a wonderful holiday season, and a spectacular New Year.

Thank you once again from everyone at Milk Crate Theatre xx

P.S. If you need additional support over the holiday season Milk Crate Theatre has compiled a list of services that operate over this period for anyone that may need them.

If you are in a crisis situation the following services are available:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

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