It's interesting that it's often the people you live next door to or across the road from that you know the least about. You may see each other in the mornings as you're going to work or pass them when you take your dog out for a walk and exchange pleasantries, but who are they really? Performed as part of the Big West Festival, Neighbours takes you on a guided walking along Nicholson street and into the homes of residents as they perform accounts of their lives.
Melbourne-based performers/performance-makers from This Side of The Tracks, Kerensa Diball and Yuhui Ng-Rodriguez, have spent two years working on getting this project ready. "We've spent many hours inhabiting the street, building relationships, door knocking, loitering, being inquisitive about everything, listening, watching. Through conversations over time, we have gotten to know locals and residents; this has enabled us to work with the skills, personality, quirks and expertise of each resident to create Neighbours," they say.
With this work, Diball and Ng-Rodriguez hope to dispel the perceived reputation that western suburb has. "Because of Footscray’s past, there is a stereotypical belief that its residents are disadvantaged migrants from particular socio-economic backgrounds – this is largely untrue. Many migrants are well-educated or have worked hard at blue collar jobs to now own properties."
"Footscray is a unique suburb with a layered and complex history, a place which is adaptable and ever transforming. It continues to undergo relentless change today, and we wanted to capture Footscray in its present moment of change, transition and glory."
The two are eager to explore Neighbours further, with life outside of Footscray. "We are interested in how neighbourhoods and suburbs cope with change, and see this as one of many opportunities to collaborate with other suburbs /communities to create their very own version of Neighbours," they explain. "Each version will inevitably take a different form, demanding a slightly different process depending on its locality - which comes with its own unique socio-political context and history."
Through Neighbours, Diball and Ng-Rodriguez hope audiences walk away with greater awareness of community and change. "We want to query people's views on gentrification, assimilation, multiculturalism and community and to enjoy an intimate, honest experience with strangers, particularly in an age of growing suspicion and paranoia. We want them to be curious about their own neighbours, whom they may or may not know, as there is so much hidden knowledge about the suburb and the history of each home."
Venue: Meet at Dragon Health and Fitness, Level 2, 30 Leeds St, Footscray
Season: 20 - 22 November | Fri, 3pm and 5pm, Sat-Sun 1p, 3pm and 5pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Big West Festival