2015 Blog

Creative Ageing 2015 Redlands Brisbane Conference Speech
Written by Steve on Tuesday, 22 December 2015 05:45   

 

 Conference Speech  July 24  2015
  by Steve Mayer-Miller
 
 
Three years ago I walked into an aged care centre .  
 
The last time I had been  in one was 25 years ago
 
That was 1990. I was with my father.
 
Dad had been diagnosed with dementia.
 
Twenty years before that my grandfather was admitted to an aged care centre
 
with dementia.
 
So you can imagine, I have a very keen interest in Aged Care.
 
But this time however I wasn't accompanied by my father or my grandfather.
 
I had with me a musical instrument.
 
It was a day that I will never forget and it had a profound effect on me.
 
But it got off to a shaky start.
 
 
 
I was met by an activities officer.
 
The conversation went something like this. 
 
"We can fit you in between the Bingo and the Movie.
 
You've got half an hour!
 
They're so looking forward to your concert. They love country and western!
 
I'm not here to do a concert. 
 
I'm actually here to get them to create their own music..to be musicians.
 
She took me aside and in the nicest possible way, told me that
 
whatever I try to teach them, they'll forget it by tomorrow.
 
That's fine, we'll play something different tomorrow
 
And she looked a bit puzzled.
 
Perhaps you should come and see for yourself.
 
And so she took me there.
 
The door was locked. 
 
It needed a combination code to open it.
 
The officer showed me around and before she left she told me that when I was ready to 
 
leave I would need the combination code to open the door. She told me the code and 
 
then left.
 
 
Some people were asleep, some watching television and others in their rooms.
 
There was one gentlemen sitting by himself at a kitchen table.
 
Just sitting there staring at the table.
 
The nurse told me that he spends a lot of his time staring at the table.
 
I went up and introduced my self - his name was Martin, I asked him what kind of music he liked
 
It took a while to get a response ...but finally he said
 
Jazz 
 
Not country and Western...no Jazz
 
I realised he'd had a stroke and could only use his left hand.
 
I showed him my musical instrument
 
The trombone's here
 
This is a vibraphone
 
Flute and
 
Drums
 
If you put your hand between the towers it will signal a sound.-
 
And the noted can be changed depending on how you place your hand
 
Martin's whole face transformed. It became animated.  He became totally engaged in playing this instrument.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2.  WHY THE ARTS WORK and are a Good fit for agedcare.
 
How do you describe a sound like that? 
 
A musician might describe it in terms of its scales using 2nds and 5ths
 
An historian might tell us its a sound emerging out of the bepop era of the 1940's
 
Something played by Dizzie Gillespie or Charlie Parker.
 
But rational language doesn't really do it justice to describing music
 
It gets you here (thump heart) This is something that connects with people's feelings.
 
Music has that rare ability to calm us, to excite us 
to the point that hairs on our back 
 
stand on end and it can even organise and synchronise us at work
 
(put on the rhythm)
 
And the results are right there- it puts a smile on your face - you find yourself 
 
moving tapping your feet. Care to dance?
 
 
 
 
This ladies and gentlemen is what the Arts does  and does Best
 
It engages our intuition, our feelings, our passions and our imagination.
 
And this is why the arts is such a good fit for people in aged care facilities.
 
In 5 minutes I had 2 nurses sitting with us playing the Beamz
 
And eventually people began to leave the television room and join us.
 
And take turns in playing.
 
All of a sudden my friend who was sitting by all by himself at that table was surrounded 
 
by people, who were  engaged and animated.  
 
I went from room to room where I met people who were not able to join the activity 
 
sessions.
 
Thats where I met Kay.  She spent most of her day in bed. 
 
Kay had a passion for nature, films and music .  I had with me my ipad and Kay and I 
 
looked through the films I had on it. There was a nature documentary so we put it on. 
 
But we turned the sound down and Kay put the music to it using 
 
the Beamz.   Kay was was active totally engaged and composing music.
 
The sparkle in Kay's eyes and her beaming smile was all I needed to know that this 
 
works. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3.  BUS STOP
 
Outside the window something caught my eye. There was woman sitting at a bus 
 
shelter.   But the bus stop was inside the grounds of the dementia unit. 
 
There was no road. 
 
I learnt that it when residents became agitated  knowing that they couldn't go home 
 
they would sit at the bus stop and this seemed to calm them down.
 
This idea of home became a constant source of conversation.
 
 
But it was now time for me to go home. I collected my gear said my goodbyes and 
 
walked to the door. When I tried to open it the handle wouldn't move.
 
And then remembered I needed the combination.  
 
The numbers on the combination lock were so small that I had to kneel on the ground 
 
And of course I'd forgotten my reading glasses.
 
But in the end that didn't even matter.  I could not remember the code
 
So there I was kneeling on the ground with half the memory unit watching me. 
 
All I could think about was my father 25 years ago.  Dad managed to escape his 
 
dementia unit twice and hitch hike his way back home, much to the displeasure of my 
 
mother.
 
Eventually the nurse came and let me out . 
 
 I left that room with mixed feelings- 
 
sadness in that I could leave and they couldn't,  the absolute absurdity of me on my 
 
knees trying to find the combination and a kind of triumph in being able to bring some 
 
joy to the man sitting at the table and then wondering whether one day I will finish up in 
 
a room like this.
 
That night all I could think about was that bus stop.
 
 
 
 
 
5. ITHAKA and RESIDENCIES
 
 
That bus stop and people's longing to return home became the catalyst for our next 
 
project   FINDING ITHAKA - a project based around Constantine's Cavafy's poem 
 
Ithaka and Homer's great epic The Odyssey the story of a man's struggle to return 
 
from the Trojan War  to his home on the island of Ithaka and his family.
 
 
Over the next few months I bought in a team of artists to work with the residents
 
- a weaver, musician, a dancer and a visual artist.
 
In 2014 we ran the program 6 days a week  from July through to November.
 
and eventually expanded it to include aged care and respite centres in Mackay, 
 
Gladstone, Biloela and Dysart.
 
 
 In Gladstone 3 artists lived in the aged care centre itself for a month.
 
 
This kind of residency gave us the opportunity to develop more intimate relationships with the residents and the staff.
 
It was in Gladstone that we met Woody Tryhorn and Norman Thornton two elderly 
 
residents who eventually took on leadership roles in the production and left their rooms 
 
in the agedcare centre and travelled to Mackay by train to join actors, singers and 
 
musicians in Mackay for 3 weeks in the leadup to the public presentation  of the play, 
 
and exhibition.
 
 
The residencies also gave us time to begin transforming the the living spaces of these 
 
centres into Art Spaces.
 
 
In Gladstone residents and their families took part in photography workshops and took
 
photos of each other.  These portraits were then composited onto maps and hung in 
 
the dining area of the centres.  
 
The artists also conducted interviews of the residents, mapping their life journeys.
 
 
I remember each night we would edit that day's series of interviews put music behind it 
 
and in the morning we would get to the dining area before they arrived for breakfast 
 
and set up speakers around the room so that during breakfast they would listen to their 
 
stories.
 
We were part of one big family.
 
 
Their are many innovative ways of using space both inside and outside of Agedcare Centres
 
My favourite moments occurred this year when one resident took part in a dance 
 
workshop run by a hip pop dancer- Sinta was a year 12 students doing a placement 
 
with us. Margaret wanted to join in the workshop but was very frustrated with only
 
 being able to swing her left arm in the air. She had  had a stroke and the right side of
 
her body was paralysed. 
 
The next day Sinta came in and did a one on one workshop with Margaret in what 
 
became a two arm dance. And we filmed their two hands dancing.
 
That film was eventually  shown on billboards and the side of buildings throughout 
 
Mackay and in Winton. 
 
 
6. RESULTS
 
At the heart of this initiative is a resolve ... a resolve to reignite a passion in people's 
 
lives to use their imaginations to create things. Not by watching someone else 
 
perform for them, but by actually DOING IT . By being  PRODUCTIVE . And through 
 
that creative process regain their dignity and sense of identity and celebrate that.
 
 
 
And the Results showed that these methods were making a difference to people's lives.
 
    And not only the residents, but their families and carers and the staff.
 
 
 There was an overall increase in people's participation. 
 
  People who traditionally stayed in their rooms were now coming down to join the workshops.
 
 
 
The staff found greater levels of connection with the residents and also a decrease      
      
on the number of times residents would press their room buzzers for assistance.
 
 
   
 The staff also found they were able to learn new skills. This was particularly 
 
 relevant in using the Timeslips method-  This method uses photographs and open ended questions to get 
 
 people with alzheimers to tell stories without the fear of having to remember or get the answer wrong.
 
 
 
 
 
7.  THE OBSTACLES
 
I wish it was as straight forward as that ...but of course it's not.
 
There are huge obstacles along the way-
 
# People's attitude towards elderly people in seeing them as past their use by date and 
 
non productive- resulting in the elderly feeling they are a burden
 
 
#The economical obstacles that face service providers i trying to maintain these 
 
facilities against  federal budget cuts. ACAS The Aged and Community Services 
 
Australia said that many aged care providers in the regions are operating "on the cusp 
 
of viability."
 
 
#And one of the greatest challengers was the self doubt in the minds of the elderly themselves.
 
 
At times it can feel overwhelming.
 
 
 
 
 
8.  HOPE - Wildflowers will grow
 
In May this year I made a road trip out to Longreach Winton and Mt Isa to meet with
 
community representatives and service providers to ascertain the level of interest and 
 
willingness to have a a creative ageing program.
 
Longreach is going through one of the worst droughts in its history along with other 
 
remote towns in Western Qld. There's not a blade of grass and the ground is an 
 
endless sea of cracked soil. The place appeared to be dying.
 
 
 
In 2010, 133 millimetres of rain fell on Longreach. And that spring the place was filled 
 
with wildflowers.  Purple Foxtails, Pink myrtle yellow wattle and an assortment of 
 
Honeysuckle grevillias.   It was a sea of colour.
 
What it proved was that the landscape wasn't dead. It was dormant.  Right beneath the 
 
surface were seeds- seeds of possibility waiting for the right conditions to come about.
 
 
 
If we can give elderly people in aged care centres a broader range of opportunities 
 
and greater expectations so that their curiosity is stimulated...to imagine...to be 
 
creative....then life is inevitable.  And flowers will grow and people's eyes will begin 
 
to sparkle again .
 
That same sparkle I saw in Kay's eyes when she sat up in her bed and played her 
 
first  musical  notes to a film......that transforming moment when she realised she 
 
was creating something new-  
 
 
 
 
9.  THE PROCESS OF ART
 
 
And so ladies and gentlemen just as art is the process of taking 
 
the tangible - paper ink clay and fabric and and the intangible- music 
 
dance and stories and transforming them into something new
 
 
that process of art also has the power to transform those people 
 
who participate in its making - into enhancing their  quality of life
 
 
and the people, the audiences the families and friends who come to 
 
see this process are themselves transformed as they see 
 
themselves reflected in the artists and their work. there can be 
 
nothing as powerful as this to lift a community spirit and call out 
 
from the rooftops  "i'm alive i'm here and i exist!"
 
 
 
10.  the right combination
 
just as i stood at the door in the dementia unit trying to leave 
 
grasping for that combination we are all in a sense at that thresh 
 
hold of a door that can lead to a brighter outlook for people in 
 
these facilities - we have the combination - it just needs the will and 
 
the determination and the passion to open it and on the other side 
 
is the kind of society that i want to belong to
 
 
thankyou 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Interview between Emerging Artist Kyla Ann Ranger and Artistic Director Steve Mayer-Miller

 

March 2015

 

 

 

 

 

KYLA:  How confident were you that the Ithaka project would work?

 

STEVE:   In this business you work and you live in a constant state of uncertainty.

 

So working with elderly people in aged care centres, and young people with disability, uncertainty is part of the landscape… you had to be

 

prepared that things would change each day. That’s also part of the creative process. You can either see it as a series of crises or as

 

opportunity. And it’s our job as artists to solve those challenges.  Everyday we were faced with change and situations that we had not  

 

predicted.  Some people had to leave the project. A number of elderly people passed away. We certainly had our moments of crises.  And yet 

 

underneath all of that I had this belief…I had no doubt. 

 

 

 

KYLA:  None?

 

 

STEVE: At a gut level none whatsoever. I knew that it would come together.  The idea was a strong one and I had a great team.

 

People have this notion that young people and the elderly somehow exist on different planets. But actually they’ve got a lot in common. In many ways they’re both outsiders.

 

 

They know what its like to be invisible…..when they get together..... and it’s not this …move over grandpa you’ve had your go in life I’ll show you how to do it…far from it

 

There was respect.. ..there was admiration….and sometimes a sense of awe  that this 87 year old man had travelled the world, could play the piano and had worked in a

 

remote community in the Kimberleys. The young people wanted to know how he did it. And this generated enormous positive energy-

 

and I think with that energy comes change…on a whole number of levels. What we saw over 5 months was a change in people’s estimation of their own worth,…

 

They could see they were capable of doing things they never thought possible. And that brought about a change in their confidence……….

 

People had the confidence to take on new skills, confidence to meet people and the confidence to get out of their bed in the morning and leave the isolation of their room,

 

walk down the hallway, pick up a musical instrument, or a paintbrush or a lump of clay or an idea …. and create something new …something that wasn’t there yesterday…………

 

and all of it based on each person’s capacity to imagine…………….and that is what ART is about …. to participate in that …..     is life affirming and in some cases life changing. 

 

And do you know something…that whole stigma of  older people feeling like they’re a burden..disappeared.

 

 

STEVE:  How ‘bout yourself

 

 

KYLA  : How do you mean.

 

 

STEVE:  Well what was your experience?

 

 

KYLA:  I came into this project with no experience. No experience of working with elderly people. Here I was, an emerging young artist in my first year of practice.  In actual fact you employed me as an admin assistant.

 

STEVE: As I said, change is part of this landscape…and you turned it into an opportunity.

 

KYLA:  To be honest at first I found whole thing a bit daunting.  I’d never been in an aged care centre. But I started to see people’s lives transformed.  

 

And not just the participants but also their family members, the people around them, the staff at aged care centres and the audiences who came to see the work.

 

The whole thing had a profound effect on me.

 

 

STEVE:  In what way?

 

 

KYLA:  I remember the night I introduced Margaret to my young sister. Margaret Macnaughton was a painter who had lost the use of her right arm.

 

She had had a stroke and had to learn to paint all over again using her left hand. I have never seen anyone so persistent and determined in wanting to paint again.

 

So when I got home that night my sister Robyn said “I want to be a painter like that lady”

 

 

STEVE:  Anyone else?

 

 

KYLA: John Pickup.  He was another great influence.  He was a painter , an ABC broadcaster and a great teacher.  John was someone who had toured the world

 

with Pro Hart and the Brushmen of the Bush and he  taught me the skill of interviewing.

 

 

KYLA:  What about the challenges?

 

STEVE: When you look at it, Projects of this scale are always going to have their challenges. We were operating  3 workshops a day, 6 days a week for 5 months.  

 

and then pulling it all together for a final event …and when you have up to 10 artists working on that and operating in 4 regional centres that can stretch the capacity of any small arts organisation. 

 

But I think at the end of the day those kind of hurdles were nothing compared with the challenge we face as a society in the way we deal with the elderly.

 

We were working with people who by and large are society’s burden- that’s what they are and that is what they feel like…..they’re the forgotten people, the invisible

 

who are no longer seen as individuals anymore but more like economical liabilities who will only add to our national debt and add to the costs of our health system.     

 

The hardest thing I found was at the end of the day walking with the residents back to their rooms…  And then realising this was their home. This was where they had their meals,

 

where they slept and where they got on with the rest of their life.  And there was this all consuming  loneliness.  And you put yourself into that equation as well.  I’m getting old…. Is this where I’m heading to ?

 

And you ask yourself is this what it comes down to.? Is this what you spend your whole life working towards.  Is this the best our society…our profit driven….our consumer driven…..

 

our entertainment driven society ……our so called smart society  is this really the best they can do? 

 

I do think Art can play a major role in making the lives of these people better. Not art as passive entertainment …but art that requires thinking skills, collaboration… creativity…..

 

problem solving and a celebration at the end of the day on what it means to be human and valued.

 

 

 

KYLA:  And I think with the mix of young people with elderly people made a big difference.

 

these workshops became real engine rooms …..And that energy led to new ways of firing up people’s imagination.

 

 

STEVE: Head, heart and body!

 

 

KYLA: Yeah we even did the workouts…  they just move a little slower than the rest of us.   It was important to keep the physical activity . We had to get them out of their rooms.  And get them moving. 

             

 

STEVE:  But it went beyond just physical workouts didn’t it?

 

 

KYLA:  Yes. It was really exciting when we began linking these exercises to people’s stories , injecting it with creativity, so that.. say…. a memory of making cakes in the kitchen with your mother

 

could be turned into a dance or musical sequence or a piece of visual art. And it was these art forms  that eventually told the story about who that person was,

 

where they came from and the contribution they made to our world. .It validated them.  They were no longer perceived as being a burden.  And the young people got that. They understood it.

 

KYLA:  Memorable moments?

 

STEVE: I’ll never forget the day Martin learnt how to play the Beamz  music player. He’d always wanted to play jazz but he just never got around to it and I guess coming from the dementia unit

 

no-one expected Martin to learn how to play it.

 

KYLA: I remember the smile on his face when those first sounds came out.

 

 

STEVE: Do you remember at the end of the workshop we’d walk with Martin back to his room.

 

 

KYLA:  I actually enjoyed the walks as much as the workshop.

 

 

STEVE: I enjoyed picking them up from their rooms. But it took us a while didn’t it?

 

 

KYLA: To get to their rooms?

 

 

STEVE:  Yes it did take us a while, but what I mean is, it took us a while to fully understand this idea of home….like everyone else this place, this centre, was his home.  

 

And it was always a point of discussion. People talked a lot about home. It’s something that people forget…the public and sometimes the staff.  This is a home…its not an institution or a hospital…..

 

Home was important…..So in the middle of a workshop someone might say, “Am I going home this afternoon.”  I remember someone else saying, “Can you show me the way to the bus stop.”

 

 

There was even one aged care centre in Gladstone that had actually built a bus stop inside the grounds of the centre so people could go and sit there. No buses ever came, but it seemed to settle them.

 

 

KYLA: And that became a theme didn’t it.

 

 

STEVE:   Yes.  The concept of Home became a theme.  And that eventually led to exploring a story about this man who takes 10 years trying to get back to his home... and he’s up against all these

 

what seem to be insurmountable odds….His name was Odysseus. The story was written in the 8th century BC by Homer.

 

The story was The Odyssey written by Homer.    Yes it was pretty bold . We didn’t try to recreate the Odyssey but it did lead to the poetry of Constantine Cavafy and his poem Ithaka. 

 

 

KYLA: I think everyone found a certain resonance to what Cavafy was saying in this idea that life is a journey not a destination and they responded in their own way, through song,

 

paintings,  music, puppetry, theatre and dance.  Everyone had their own idea, imaginative, real or otherwise of what Ithaka meant to them.   Ithaka became the beacon which united all of us.

 

 

 

STEVE: I think for us as community artists  there is always a struggle between the journey and destination and the tensions that occur between  the process work which in a sense is the voyage

 

and…..the eventual destination of the public outcome.

 

 

KYLA: It’s how you balance them.

 

 

STEVE:  With difficulty.

 

 

KYLA:  With uncertainty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
Creative Ageing 2015
Written by Steve on Thursday, 17 December 2015 21:29   

Creative Ageing

 

Interview between Emerging Artist Kyla Ranger and Artistic Director Steve Mayer-Miller

 

 

KYLA: How confident were you that the project would come together?

 

 

STEVE:   I had no doubt.  None whatsoever

People have this notion that young people and the elderly somehow exist on different planets. But actually they’ve got a lot in common. In many ways they’re both outsiders. They know what its like to be invisible…..

  1. when they get together..... and its not this …move over grandpa you’ve had your go in life I’ll show you how to do it…far from it

There was respect.. ..there was admiration….and sometimes a sense of awe  that this 87 year old man had travelled the world, could play the piano and had worked in a remote community in the Kimberleys. The young people wanted to know how he did it.

And this generated enormous positive energy-

and I think with that energy comes change…on a whole number of levels

What we saw over 5 months was a change in people’s estimation of their own worth,…

They could see they were capable of doing things they never thought possible.

And that brought about a change in their confidence……….

People had the confidence to take on new skills, confidence to meet people and the confidence to get out of their bed in the morning and leave the isolation of their room, walk down the hallway, pick up a musical instrument, or a paintbrush or a lump of clay or an idea …. and create something new …something that wasn’t there yesterday………… and all of it based on each person’s capacity to imagine…………….and that is what ART is about …. to participate in that …..     is life affirming and in some cases life changing. 

And do you know something…that whole stigma of  older people feeling like they’re a burden..disappeared.

 

 

STEVE:  How 'bout yourself?

 

 

KYLA  I came into this project with no experience of working with elderly people

I was an emerging young artist in my first year of practice and to be honest at first I found whole thing a bit daunting.  I’d never been in an aged care centre

But I started to see people’s lives transformed.  And not just the participants but also their family members, the people around them, the staff at aged care centres and the audiences who came to see the work.

The whole thing had a profound effect on me.

I remember the night I introduced Margaret to my young sister.

Margaret Macnaughton was a painter who had lost the use of her right arm.

She had a stroke.

  1. had to learn to paint all over again using her left hand.

I have never seen anyone so persistent and determined in wanting to paint again.

When I got home that night my sister Robyn said “I want to be a painter like that lady”

John Pickup was another great influence.  He was a painter , an ABC broadcaster and a great teacher.  John was someone who had toured the world with Pro Hart and the Brushmen of the Bush and he  taught me

the skill of interviewing.

 

 

KYLA:  Did the project have challenges?

 

 

STEVE: When you look at it, Projects of this scale are always going to have their challenges. We were operating  3 workshops a day, 6 days a week for 5 months.  and then pulling it all together for a final event …and when you have up to 10 artists working on that and operating in 4 regional centres that can stretch the capacity of any small arts organisation. 

But I think at the end of the day those kind of hurdles were nothing compared with the challenge we face as a society in the way we deal with the elderly. We were working with people who by and large are society’s burden- that’s what they are and that is what they feel like…..they’re the forgotten people, the invisible who are no longer seen as individuals anymore but more like economical liabilities who will only add to our national debt and add to the costs of our health system.     

The hardest thing I found was at the end of the day walking with the residents back to their rooms…  And then realising this was their home. This was where they had their meals, where they slept and where they got on with the rest of their life.  And there was this all consuming  loneliness.  And you put yourself into that equation as well.  I’m getting old…. Is this where I’m heading to ?

And you ask yourself is this what it comes down to.? Is this what you spend your whole life working towards.

Is this the best our society…our profit driven….our consumer driven….. our entertainment driven society ……our so called smart society  is this really the best they can do? 

I do think Art can play a major role in making the lives of these people better. Not art as passive entertainment …but art that requires thinking skills, collaboration… creativity..problem solving and a celebration at the end of the day on what it means to be human and valued.

 

 

 

STEVE:  How important was it having young people in the project?

 

 

 

KYLA:  I think with the mix of young people with elderly people these workshops became real engine rooms …..And that energy led to new ways of firing up people’s imagination.

Yeah we even did the workouts…  they just move a little slower than the rest of us.   It was important to keep the physical activity . We had to get them out of their rooms.  And get them moving. 

But Our role was also to take this physical activity to the next level by linking these exercises to people’s stories , injecting it with creativity, so that.. say…. a memory of making cakes in the kitchen with your mother could be turned into a dance or musical sequence or a piece of visual art. And it was these art forms  that eventually told the story about who that person was, where they came from and the contribution they made to our world. .It validated them.

 They were no longer perceived as being a burden.  And the young people got that. They understood it.

 

 

 

KYLA:  Were there any high points?

 

 

 

STEVE: I’ll never forget the day Martin learnt how to play the Beamz  music player. He’d always wanted to play jazz but he just never got around to it and I guess coming from the dementia unit no-one expected Martin to learn how to play it.  At the end of the workshop we’d walk with Martin back to his room. Like everyone else this place was his home.  And it was always a point of discussion. People talked a lot about home. In the middle of a workshop someone might say, “Am I going home this afternoon.”  I remember someone else saying, “Can you show me the way to the bus stop.” There was even one aged care centre in Gladstone that had actually built a bus stop inside the grounds of the centre so people could go and sit there. No buses ever came, but it seemed to settle them.

 

 

 

KYLA: So the concept of Home became a theme. 

 

 

 

STEVE:  Yes and that eventually led to exploring a story about this man who takes 10 years trying to get back to his home... and he’s up against all these what seem to be insurmountable odds….His name was Odysseus. The story was written in the 8th century BC by Homer.

The story was The Odyssey written by Homer.    Yes it was pretty bold . We didn’t try to recreate the Odyssey but it did lead to the poetry of Constantine Cavafy and his poem Ithaka.  And I think everyone found a certain resonance to what Cavafy was saying in this idea that life is a journey not a destination and they responded in their own way, through song, paintings,  music, puppetry, theatre and dance.  Everyone had their own idea, imaginative, real or otherwise of what Ithaka meant to them.   Ithaka became the beacon which united all of us. 

 I think for us as community artists  there is always a struggle between the journey and destination and the tensions that occur between  the process work which in a sense is the voyage    and…..the eventual destination of the public outcome. It’s how you balance them.