Darwin Shell Terminal, McMinn St, Darwin City
August 11 - 13 & 16 - 21, 2006
MR BIG is about the spirit of Darwin, from its transition as a sleepy little town to one of Australia’s fastest growing cities. We have chosen six archetypal characters from old Darwin. For many of us our human spirit has grown from such characters: the military personnel, the hippy traveller, the cowgirl or stockman, the Asian influence, the builder, and the new arrival from down South.
The cast was selected through an audition process held in March 2006. Cast members come from the Darwin region as well as the remote Aboriginal community of Lajamanu. MR BIG has been devised collaboratively between the Directors, choreographers and the cast.
The following excerpts are from Marilynne Paspaley’s 2005 Eric Johnston Lecture, “Finding the Spirit of Darwin”
“… remember the chalk boards at school, and the white pieces of chalk that were used? Do you remember what happened when the chalk was dipped into a pot of blue ink? Well, growing up in Darwin was like being dipped into a pot of rainbow ink – you absorbed all of these differences that were around you, and they became a part of you as much as you were a part of them.
Proximity broke down prejudices. Working together built respect. I read somewhere the first impressions of a young policeman who had been posted to Darwin a few years earlier and he recorded his surprise at the cultural mix of the town. We all took it for granted and I think it’s one of the qualities that sets long term Darwinites apart – the fact that they’re more comfortable in a multicultural gathering than they are in a white Anglo-Saxon one."
Darwin in the 1950s had a population of around 8,000. It seemed to me that everyone knew everyone. When you married, you selected one of the main gathering halls in town for the reception. It didn’t matter which denomination you belonged to – you chose the venue based on how many guests you were inviting - the Chung Wah Hall for small, the Greek Hall for medium or the Palais for huge. The Palais was a large corrugated iron shed with a concrete floor on the Catholic Church property in Lindsay Street – a more inappropriate name for such a building I cannot imagine.
It was the 1980s. Now that was a time when I think we began to lose the spirit of Darwin. What replaced it was a spirit of development, but it was development at any cost. Please understand, I am not against development - Darwin has always been about development and opportunity, and people who want to have a go. But did we really benefit as a community from the development of Mindil beach? Mindil beach was the town beach. The mist on the dry season mornings would slowly rise as the sun came up to reveal water like glass and palm trees fringing the beach. There was a wonderful sand dune that changed shape every season – growing and shrinking depending on the tides and the storms. A fast-flowing creek carved its way around and behind the sand dune to run all the way to what is currently the Gardens Park Golf Links. On the outgoing tide, it was a great thrill to launch from the sand dune into the creek and be swept rapidly away into the wider waters. Larrakeyah people would camp along the creek behind the sand dune, roasting sea slugs and other shellfish that we were too timid to eat, and teaching us to draw signals in the sand.
What do we value in our town today, I wonder? Are we determining our developments with our community in mind?
I’ve always believed that one of the strongest attributes of Darwin is that we’re a population of people who choose to be here. We are not here because we were born here and don’t know any better. This town’s ability to attract people from around the world – to have them living harmoniously alongside one another – is, I believe, what defines the spirit of Darwin.
We can be proud of our heritage. We have an opportunity to be the most diverse and interesting city in Australia. If we can value where we have come from, and celebrate what we have become, we will understand what it is that we need to take forward. It is unique. It is what brings me home. It is the spirit of Darwin.”
Director/ Choreographer: David McMicken
Director/Designer: Tim Newth
Choreographer: Julia Quinn
Guest Choreographer: Nick Power
Youth Choreographers: Erwin Fenis, Kelly Beneforti, Imanuel Dado, Karajayne Handberg, Corina Nichols and Vera Tabuzo
Costumes: Cristina Pantazis
Production and Promotion Personnel
Production Manager/Lighting Design: Vanessa Hutchins
Chief Electrician: Neil McKnight
Assistant Production Manager: Kelly Blumberg
Stage Hands and Electrics: Chad Oliver and Ben Southwood
Promotions: Fiona Carter, Tony Collins and Carmel Young
Poster Image and Design: Mark Marcelis
Animation: Jett Street
Front of House Manager: Nicola Jackson
Meet the MR BIG Characters
Erwin Fenis: AJ. (Military)
Fighting to protect Mr Big’s Territory
Height: 167 cm
Weight: 55 Kilos
Left, Left, Left Right Left
You're in the army now – it’s a BIG demand
Operational deployments, exercises
Defend your territory and way of life
We’re trained, we’re elite, we’re here to serve!
From the Digger, the war in the Pacific, the bombing of Darwin, East Timor or Iraq AJ has been a part of Darwin for a long time. Keeping us safe, patrolling our coastline, helping out in neighbouring countries. Darwin would not be the same with out our armed forces.
Kelly Beneforti: Destiny (Southern City Girl)
She thinks she’s got what Mr Big wants
Excuse me, I was just wondering where to buy my Donna Karan clothes, and is it at all possible to just not sweat here? Can we turn the air-conditioning on please? Where do I go to get a real coffee? Oh my God! It is just so hot here, how do you all cope? You know what you need here? A BIG department store. Where can I get my cosmetics? Do you think this Louis Vuitton bag is too much?
With so many people coming to Darwin from somewhere else, it is not surprising that they all want something different. Destiny arrives fully believing that she knows just what Darwin needs, and she is just the right person to make it happen.
Imanuel Dado: Bob (Builder)
He’s Building Mr Big’s Dreams
Scaffolding, jackhammers, concrete and bulldozers
Rip out the old, improve with the new
Change the skyline, BIGger is better
New Apartments – no worries
Convention Centre – no worries
Multi-storey car park – no worries
We’re on the move and the only way is up
Whatever you need, he can fix it!
Everywhere you look now you can see new buildings going up. But building is such an important part of Darwin, rebuilding after bombings, after cyclones, and as our population steadily increases. From bark huts to tall towers, Bob is ready for your construction, or reconstruction for that matter.
Corina Nichols: Sunshine (Hippy)
Mr Big’s Babe in the woods, or the beach, or the catwalk
I love the sun, I love the warmth. I love the peace and freedom that Darwin offers me and how easy it is to travel. I love how old things are, I love how mixed the culture is here, and I love that there are not too many people, and the sense of harmony. I hate that you can’t swim in the ocean, but it’s no BIG deal.
As the only Australian Capital city situated in Asia, Darwin has always been a place for alternative lifestylers. From the hippies at Lameroo Beach to the backpackers of today, Sunshine makes her continual pilgrimages but has made Darwin her home.
Vera Tabuzo: Dusty (Cowgirl)
She’s ropin’ them in and brandin’ them for Mr Big
Dust, sweat and the wide-open land, that’s life on an outback cattle station. Isolated and free from the hassles of the world. Come the end of the month, then it’s lock up your sons, I’m comin’ in to town for a BIG time.
With the cattle routes open, and some of the largest stations around, the stock men and women were the backbone of the Northern Territory. Dusty has been coming into the Big City Smoke and lights for a long time. Spot the hat, the rodeo has arrived.
Karajayne Handberg: Princess (Asian)
She works hard, parties harder, and holds Mr Big’s purse strings
From humble beginnings to BIGger things. Business trips in Singapore, KL, Hong Kong, I return home for a laksa at the Mindil Markets, all in a day’s work in my fast lane. Forget the south – with Asia at my front door I look northwards for my future.
South East Asia and North of Australia has been linked for centuries. Opening up the land, building our railroads, trading and growing our produce, hawker style markets and long-term tropical knowledge. Jakarta is closer than Sydney, Kuala Lumpur closer than Melbourne. Princess’s family has been living in Darwin longer than most, and has strongly influenced our development.
Military/Cowboys: John Ferrer, Grant Nery, Jeremiah Rasing and Gerard Japanangka Scobie
Military/Asians: Holly Au and Carmen Jap
Military/Hippies: Loni Garnons-Williams and Katrina Firth
Builder/Cowboys: Jason Chav, Caleb Japanangka Patrick, Ricky Borg and Paul Viojan
Builder/Asians: Poppy Kathopoulis and Jensine Ricket
Builder/Hippies: Tegan Barrett-McGuin and Lorraine Meehan
Southerner/Cowgirls: Chloe Lauverjon and Kathryn Lawrence
Southerner/Asians: Shaan Myall, Jenelle Saunders, Kylie Wilson and Flori Latif
Southerner/Hippies: Elle Richards, Jess Sadler-Keary and Cara Thomas
- ACT 1: Old Darwin Town - Dusty, Princess, Bob, Sunshine and AJ arrive for a big night out.
- ACT 2: You’re Not From Here — Destiny arrives from down South.
- ACT 3: The Big Build — a city under construction.
- ACT 3: The Big Build — a city under construction.
- ACT 4: Inhabiting the City—– taking the city by storm.
- ACT 5: New fuelled by Old.
Artistic Directors: David McMicken and Tim Newth
General Manager: Fiona Carter
Dance Animateur: Julia Quinn
Youth Dance Animateur: Erwin Fenis
Administrative Assistant: Skye Raabe
Bookkeeper: Julie Stark
Development Consultant: Suzanne Fermanis
Committee Members: (Chair) Jill MacAndrew, (Vice-Chair) Jackie Wurm (Treasurer) Glenn Bernardin, (Secretary/Public Officer) Traci Keys, (Ordinary Committee Members) David Taylor, Ken Conway, Nick Papandonakis, Donna Quong, (Ex-Officio Members) David McMicken and Tim Newth
Public Fund Trustees: Rev. Steve Orme, Dr Anita Toth, Paul Wan
"… a melding of dance styles where hip hop meets line dancing meets traditional Asian dance … MR BIG is a collectively devised piece, performed by people who evidently feel as if they own it. This is everything community theatre can be: not the domain of petty tyrants, weekend drama queens and teetering sets but a collaborative effort unleashing local creativity and expression; a living story created by people with a real connection to their audience." Jane Hampson, Real Time
"The real beauty of this work lies in the all too brief glimpses of Asian influenced dance and a short duo performed by boys from the remote community of Lajamanu. And what is completely awesome, the larger sections of hip-hop and break dancing, which broadly speaking are forms of dance that enable many young people living in the west to exp\lore their realities both politically and spiritually.
The energy with which Tracks Youth Dance Theatre performs is truly extraordinary; the dancers have clearly been encouraged to own the work and every person exhibits great professionalism, start to finish. The performance is well directed with great attention paid to transitions, which are either seamless, or exciting interludes in their own right. These attributes are rarely seen so cohesively in the youth and community dance/theatre scene. In all, a really exciting and hard working company that should get down south more often." Alison Halit - Melbourne based Choreographer and Director.