In January 2019, the Quarry Adventure Park Amphitheatre in Meadow Springs was filled to the brim with locals ready to experience a new twist on a Shakespeare classic with Drug Aware Midsummer Dreaming (AKA The Bard Enters the Bush).
The free public performances were the culmination of a five-month creative development project coordinated by young emerging director Ruby Liddelow, with Teaghan Lowry. The project, supported by the Drug Aware YCulture Regional program, was entirely coordinated by local young people.
Drug Aware Midsummer Dreaming provided 30 young people with the opportunity to work collaboratively on the development of a site specific theatre performance, gaining experience in the key roles throughout the production including producer, backstage, design and performer.
By taking creative ownership of the work participants were able to put their own voice into the show and creatively incorporate the Drug Aware message into the story.
“The project developed my devising skills to an extent no project in the past has done for me,” said project participant Hunter Perry.
“It allowed me to develop my writing skills and my ability to analyse a previously existing piece of art and find the good, the bad and rework the piece around this understanding. I also learned to utilise a non-traditional setting for a play as opposed to a stage in a theatre, granting me better understanding of the space and how to use it artistically.
“I learned how to communicate and advertise a show better as a large portion of spreading the word and enticing audiences was done by the cast. I also better developed my skills of creating a large project in a group as most other art projects have been more individualised or roles have been distributed whereas for Midsummer Dreaming, we all worked collaboratively on all aspects of the show.”
Along with the creative skills involved in producing the show, young participants gained experience in coordinating and managing a public outdoor event, building their leadership skills through guidance from the Creative Advisory Group. The project provided an opportunity for young people to communicate with the wider Mandurah arts scene and network with local community members, raising the profile of youth arts in the region.
The show drew in a crowd of 300 over its three nights at the Quarry and brought a new cultural experience to the local community, giving audiences a real taste for what young people can do.
According to project participant Jessika (17) the best part of the experience was “devising a whole performance, building new friendships and seeing how much a performance can change.”