Urban Theatre Project's BLAK BOX

CEO and Artistic Director of Urban Theatre Projects, Rosie Dennis, spoke with Rosie this week about the unique and exciting upcoming work, Blak Box, which arrives in Blacktown in January 2019 as part of the Sydney Festival. Learn more about the work here and make sure to get in early, this will be one not to miss!

Rosie Dennis

As the Artistic Director for Urban Theatre Projects, what role do you hope the company will play in the Australian arts scene both next year and the years to come?

We play a key role in the Australian arts landscape – all the work we produce is brand new and made through a collaborative process led by professional artists. It’s exciting as it means we’re at the very beginning of an idea with the artists we work with, it’s also riskier, and requires a different level of resourcing than staging an existing play.

How does BLAK BOX – Four Winds fit into the season of stories you want to tell in 2019?

The Four Winds program being presented in BLAK BOX continues our commitment to amplifying the voices of people who not only have incredible personal stories to tell, but stories that connect us with contemporary Sydney. In the case of Blak Box, these stories are told by Australia’s First People.

BLAK BOX has been described as a way to explore the urgent need for sharing of stories from older to younger Aboriginal people – how does BLAK BOX explore this urgency?

I might quote Blak Box Curator, Daniel Browning: “Four Winds is a speculation about the possible future as much as a recollection of the past. In four individual lives we can find stories which resonate and confront. A simple truth underpins the storytelling in Four Winds. Listening deeply and intently, even for a moment, bridges the gulf that separates one human being from another.”

To experience the work, audiences sit inside the box, in almost complete darkness. It’s within this meditative space that the images contained within the work become more powerful as our imagination builds a vivid picture of what Australia was like during the childhoods of Uncle Wes and Aunty Edna and reflect on ourselves as a nation today.

Have you found such a technology-based work successful in mediating conversation between the generations, or has there been pushback from the older generation? Does the use of technology take away from tradition or enhance it?

Yes, it’s been really successful in terms of focusing the conversation – Daniel Browning (the Curator of Four Winds) and Andrea James (the Producer) workshopped a series of ideas, issues and questions with Uncle Wes, Aunty Edna, Shaun and Savarna (the four people featured in the program) prior to recording the conversations.

There’s been no push back at all from the Elders. I think the older generation acknowledge the role technology can play in capturing stories and continuing the oral story telling tradition. Both Uncle Wes and Aunty Edna have very contemporary views of the world.

As theatre makers, how can we use our platform to continue telling these important stories? What stories do you want to tell next?

It’s important to keep telling stories in whatever format they might take, and telling the stories from people we don’t hear from often. They’re the stories I want to see on our stage and screen.


Favourite production you have ever seen?

Too many to name.

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?


What is your dream show/installation/exhibition to direct?

At the moment my dream is to write and direct a screenplay.

Plays or musicals?


What’s next for you after this?

We’re company in residence for the next 3 years with Ten Days on the Island in Tasmania making a new work so I’ll be travelling between western Sydney and Burnie quite a bit.

Tickets are available here.

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