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Milk Crate Theatre 2021 Year in Review

'Maybe that's why I dream. I float away to a place that's different. A place that isn't perfect but kind, hopeful and beautiful. I do love it. I don't think I could stop anyway, like it's hardwired in my brain. To give me a shred of hope. To help fight through the day. To reflect past experiences and battle and accept every traumatic movement I've faced. It will never make me love the world but maybe one day, it will make me love my existence in the world.'

- NICK, Tiny Universe, Milk Crate Theatre & Shopfront Arts Co-op 2021

image credit: Clare Hawley

I'm not a huge fan of the word "resilience" because honestly I feel like it's a little bit loaded. I also wouldn't want to use the word to describe an individual human - it's a bit reductive, no? But ... when I think of the word in relation to our company, it makes more sense. The resilience that occurs for us is in the coming together of our community - Facilitating Artists, Collaborative Artists, Staff, Board, during tough or weird times. It's where we meet in creative connection - we share, we learn, we create. We create something that didn't exist before we gathered. That's pretty bloody amazing.

This is also why I named our Anniversary Exhibition Emergence, which in systems theory is the alchemical creation of something that can not be created by any other gathering of individuals - you know, like theatre! The work we make at Milk Crate Theatre is a true reflection of the people in the room; different people, different show! It's the sum of all parts.

Emergence - Milk Crate Theatre's 21st Anniversary Exhibition 2021

installation at Vandal Sydney Art Gallery (LIVE 2022 gallery installations coming soon, stay tuned!)

image credit: Vandal Sydney

Our collective acts of resilience this year were many. We ran a number of workshops and projects, including a women's workshop series in Epping, a comedy series at Ozanam Learning Centre, a recording of our Natural Order cabaret number 'Sit in that Chair' with the Sydney Street Choir, and a fresh take for the residents of the Waterloo Housing Estate who are now named Waterloo Creative Ensemble! (The WCE presentation had to be postponed, but it's going up again in February 2022 so stay tuned!)

Water_Works 2022 - live event featuring artists of the Waterloo Creative Ensemble in collaboration with Milk Crate Theatre, presented at 107 Projects, 23-25 February 2022

image credit: Bethany Simons

Recording of Natural Order Cabaret Song 'Sit in that Chair'

Milk Crate Theatre Collaborative Artists and members of the Sydney Street Choir

Recorded at 301 Studios Alexandria

image credit: Margot Politis

Some of these workshop adapted themselves into an online format as lockdown came down on us again, and we also picked up the creative development of what will be our 2022 mainstage show Dust Storm (again, stay tuned!) I really want to thank and celebrate the Artists and Collaborative Artist participants who weathered this change so beautifully. This collective resilience, this elasticity and enduring connection - it sustained us all so greatly.

Vignettes - Women's Workshop Collaborative Artist Kamini

image credit: Bethany Simons

Waterloo Creative Ensemble - online series workshops

Dust Storm - online creative development series

And I can't stop smiling with gratitude that we were also able to put up a show this year. It feels like years ago! But no, it was in May 2021 when we joined forces with the gorgeous Shopfront Arts Co-op to make our stunning work Tiny Universe. I am so glad we got to share in this act of "emergence" together! It was magic to co-direct alongside the formidable Natalie Rose, and work with a cast made up of both our companies. We had no idea at the time that this creative development would provide us with much ongoing sustenance as the world changed again, a month after we bumped out that show.

The cast of Tiny Universe

image credit: Clare Hawley

The above quote is from one of our performers, Nick Vagne. It pulled at our hearts in the theatre, and I've popped it in the blog here so that it may continue to do so for whomever else reads it! It tells me that no matter what, we adjust, we bend, sometimes we break. But our art sustains us. It allows us to find our truth, facing our situation squarely in the moment. OR, it acts as an inescapable pull to dream and run away, and just make shit up completely! Whatever. All that matters is that it's ours.

So let's keep claiming it. See you in 2022.




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