Charter and Mission Statement
Out of the present global crisis arises the necessity for a new organism, the urgency for a school, a real community, a base enterprise capable of being self-sufficient and of responding to the challenge at hand.
We pledge our participation in the creation of a global well being, with the awareness that all things living are part of one another and all involved in one another. Social justice is the outcome of our compassion and our faith is in imagination and creative solutions.
A Short History
Culture Lab International is an Australian made and homegrown research and theatre laboratory, dedicated to the service of culture making processes through the organisation of storytelling: a laboratory for living research, cultural emergence and theatre.
Inspired by the desire to make connected and integrated theatre in Australia, we asked ourselves what culture could be made to grow an organic environment for the emergence of a sustainable theatre practice. What community could support it and what concerns could be the soil for its new dramaturgy?
Culture lab is a grouping of many coloured and 'feathered' friends. It started off without any presupposed notions about its becoming, identity or role within the community at large. A circle of people were given keys to a hut in Marrickville's Addison Road Multicultural Community Centre and asked to experience and find out what it meant to them to have a key.
We started theatre workshops probing questions about authenticity, followed by actors training sessions. A performing ensemble emerged and we worked daily with specific concentration and creation points of arrivals and departures, leading to monthly Culture Clubs of total theatre explosions.
The Lab became a living culture zone with gatherings of all kinds for all ages: art and theatre experiments, narrative research, inter-disciplinary enquiries, forums, meeting with elders and teachers. Out of our experiences grew the script for a major touring production, The Last Travelling Medicine Show, which performed at Newcastle and Woodford Folk Festival before blowing itself up just before the Adelaide Festival.
A Magic Box performance café running alongside a weekly local market brought more hard knocks and learnings before we went west to the Blue Mountains in search of pathways into country.
We rented a homebase with more space and freedom to develop ourselves than ever before. Bushfires became our initiation to the land with our timber stage and the last of our city belongings burnt to the ground in December 2001.
The community came to our rescue with donations from the fire relief fund and we started asking serious questions about community life and daily living as we re-established ourselves.
Food and food production and its relation to a culture of the body was never far from our minds, and now we expanded to purchasing organic fruit and vegetables for distribution to local community members.
Our homebase sees a continuous coming and goings of people who all bring their stories and developmental processes with them. We try to cultivate these stories as a cup for future generations to drink and feed from.
Opening Performance for the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition PROOF: Portraits from the Movement by Juno Gemes, 2003
Culture Camp - field experiments in inter-disciplinary arts, community life, daily living, and restoration of integrated arts and culture practices: Art Village Performance Festivals in association with Crazy Convoy of Importance, Ballarat. 2003: Aquarian Earth Dreaming for the 30th Anniversary Celebrations of the Aquarius Festival, Nimbin (May), It takes a whole Village to Raise a Child, Snake Valley (Jan) and Preparing For Winter, Snake Valley (April).
The Unfinished Show - Poetics of Collective Culture: New performance in collaboration with Ommi (for non-Australian theatre) premiered at Black Box Theatre, Newcastle, 2002: Winner of CONDA award for Best Professional Production 2002.
Culture Lab Organics: distribution of organic food and newsletter, community building and local food network throughout the Blue Mountains. Partnership with Australian Community Foods.
Cultural Research Forums: 2003 forums included Custodianship with geophysicist, Leigh Farrar and Vorticity with Vladimir Dimitrov. Standing Against the Erosion of Indigenous Culture.
Iconologia: Photographic project with Juno Gemes - an 'archeaological dig' to explore the Hidden History of Australia by reviewing our ancestry and ways of being in and relating to the land and its custodians. A contribution to the Independent Workshop of Artistic Environment : The Triangle of Art, Plexus-Medina, Municipality of Medina, Dakar.
Plexus International: Cultivation of an open framework for Art/Science/Environment collaborations as part of an ongoing multicultural aesthetic inquiry into Plexus - an International Community-based Art Project. Synchronised events include: 1997 - World Wide Eating Art Event, 1998 - From Welfare to Well Being in the 21st Century, 2000 - Open Call:Fire of Debt, 2001 - Buy Nothing Day
Interactive performances and educational workshops: Intercultural Travel From a Non-Indigenous Perspective, Social Ecology Residential, UWS, 2003; Sacred Space, Bianmunga, Monte St Angelo School, 2003; site-specific performances for Aboriginal Studies, UWS Nepean, 2003; Conference presentation (with story and performance) on Healing Transgressions Against Aboriginal Culture, UTS/Popular Education 2000; Interactively Performing Cultural Change, as part of Biamunga/Working Together, for Monte St Angelo School, (Year 9) 2000; workshops with years 8,9 & 10 on the subject of Ethics, SCEGGS, Redlands 2001; lunch-time performances (Living in Harmony) at UWS Bankstown and Campbelltown for Unity Week, sponsored by Partnerships for Cultural Change 2001;
Muru Durabin: Working with Eastbend Rural Communications to establish the beginning event of the Muru Durabin (Pathway to the Hawkesbury) Festival, a reconciliation event on the site of the ancient Aboriginal Festival ground at Maroota, NSW.