Arts Centre Melbourne Presents Asia TOPA Public Program

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Arts Centre Melbourne Presents Asia TOPA Public Program

In addition to the first announcement of the Asia TOPA Public program, there are additional events that have been added. Explore below for further insights or head to the Asia TOPA website for more information.

Asia TOPA Development Site at Brunswick Mechanics Institute
Supported by Arts Centre Melbourne, Sidney Myer Fund and the Playking Foundation.

Epoch Wars Working Group by Pony Express

What is the name of the era we will die in? In March 2020, the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC) will host a gathering of experts to discuss the possibility of naming Earth's next era "The Anthropocene". The name of Earth's next epoch could have deep ramifications for the next 10,000 years. In response, Pony Express are convening their own alternative Congress to stir up new possibilities for how to name our epoch. In continuation of their international research, and in challenge to the Eurocentrism of "The Anthropocene", Pony Express invite you to join The Epoch Wars Working Group at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute as part of Asia TOPA.

This work-in-progress showing will be presented in English and Mandarin.

In Residence: 3 - 11 March
Venue: Theatre - Brunswick Mechanics Institute

Work in progress showing: Sunday 8 March
Time: 6pm
Venue: Theatre - Brunswick Mechanics Institute

This event is free. Register your interest at

Documentary Theatre Making in Australia and Malaysia

Leading theatre maker David Williams (Australia), and Mark Teh and June Tan from Five Arts Centre (Malaysia) have a shared interest in issues of politics, history and public memory in documentary theatre. In this conversation, they discuss their approach and share with us the first steps of a collaborative exchange looking at history and coni??ict memorialisation - especially how these coni??icts are intimately entwined with national identity formation - in Australia's case, World War 1, and for Malaysia, the so-called 'Malaya Emergency'.

In Five Arts' recent work A Notional History, left wing individuals and organisations once excised from the foundational myths of an independent Malaysia reappear. Australia spent $700m commemorating the centenary of WW1 - three times the combined expenditure of all of the other nations involved in WW1. Is it surprising that no funds were committed to commemorating Australia's two defeated conscription referendums?

With residencies, exchanges and public conversations in Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur, this will be the start of a multi-year collaboration to create a new performance project.

In Residence: 6 - 8 March
Venue: Studio 1 - Brunswick Mechanics Institute

In Conversation: Friday 6 March
Time: 6pm
Venue: Studio 1 - Brunswick Mechanics Institute

This event is free. Register your interest at

Rehearsing the Witness

The sensational Bhawal court case which began in the1920s and took 16 long years to resolve is re-examined in Zuleikha Allana's Rehearsing the Witness. Cleverly sliding between the i??ction of theatre, documentary and installation, the work brings together a selection of local actors and experts who reiterate the original court transcript before dropping the guise of acting to give their own contemporary opinion on the evidence presented and to probe larger issues of identity and theatre. This development presentation - in the timber lined, historical, Moreland City Council Chambers - will be the fourth iteration of the project and its i??rst development outside of India.

In Residence: 14 - 21 March
Venue: Studio 1 - Brunswick Mechanics Institute

Presentation: Friday 20 March
Time: 6pm
Venue: Moreland City Council Chambers

This event is free. Register your interest at

Arts & Politics Series

The Arts & Politics Series is a discussion forum where artists and scholars reflect on the wider geo-political contexts in which a number of Asia TOPA projects have been developed. The series offers deeper insight into the interplay of art and politics in the Asia-Pacific region, and how artists navigate and negotiate spaces within this context. It also explores how artists and works within the Asia TOPA program are connected to the broader trends and dynamics at play in the Asia-Pacific region.

Forum: Oedipus Schmoedipus
Venue: The University of Melbourne - room to be announced
Date: Monday 23 March
Time: 1 - 2pm
Speakers: Mish Grigor, Zoë Coombs Marr, Fung Wai Hang and Kee Hong Low
Moderator: Paul Rae

What happens when an Australian production is being translated into a different culture and language? How are the interpretations thereof dependent on past, present and future context? This forum seeks to explore these questions through a discussion of the journey of Oedipus Schmoedipus and the artists involved.

Forum: Sipat Lawin
Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
Date: Friday 28 February
Time: 1 - 2pm
Speakers: JK Anicoche, Adrienne Vergara, Laurence Castillo and Arnel Mardoquio
Moderator: Emily Sexton

The satire Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands is deeply rooted in pop culture, community and politics in the Philippines and Australia. In this forum, the creators of the work, Sipat Lawin, discuss the connection between pop culture, theatre and politics in both the Philippines and within the Filipino diaspora in Australia.


The Masterclasses give insight into the large variety of performance practices within Asia TOPA featuring artists from various disciplines working across the Asia-Pacific. The Masterclasses are open to students and young professionals. Places are limited so book early.

NONOTAK: In Conversation
In partnership with The SUBSTATION and Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio

Venue: MESS - 15 Dowling Pl, North Melbourne
Date: Sunday 16 February
Time: 3 - 5pm
Hosted by: MESS co-founder Robin Fox and Byron Scullin

In this MESS artist talk, NONOTAK explore the link between architecture, design and digital creativity presenting their installation and performance projects, techniques and creative process.

Masterclass: Art Hack

Venue: Interaction Design Lab, Doug McDonell Building - The University of Melbourne
Date: 27 - 28 February
Time: 10am - 6pm

This two-day Art Hack, conducted by MetaObjects and hosted by Interaction Design Lab at the University of Melbourne, explores the diverse application of motion-capture technologies within digital and performance art and provides an introduction to capturing movements of the body using these tools. On the first day, participants will learn how to capture data using advanced motion-capture systems such as OptiTrack, and how to import and apply the motion data within 3D animation software such as Blender and real-time performance using 3D engines such as Unity. On the second day, participants will work in groups to develop an artistic project. The results will be presented in a public exhibition at the University, coinciding with Melbourne Orientation Week.

Masterclass: Dancing Democracy - Choreographing Protest | A workshop by Mallika Sarabhai

Venue: Temperance Hall - 199 Napier St, South Melbourne
Date: Saturday 22 February
Time: 11am - 4pm

Does democracy have a dramaturgical device? Can the performance apparatus shift to stage resistance? Will passive reception awaken through active demonstration? In this verbal-visceral workshop, artist-activist Mallika Sarabhai teaches dancers working with autobiographical material how to navigate authorship and agency in their own practice.

Sarabhai uses these lines from her previous work as a starting point for the workshop experience: 'Words can free her, words can keep her in her place; words may heal you, she may die in their embrace." She then works with the bodies in the room to move them through and beyond words. A slippage of senses is highly encouraged!

This workshop has been curated by Nithya Nagarajan and will cover emancipatory choreographic choices, improvisation, personal storytelling and feedback loops.

Asia TOPA Show Specific Programs

A number of programs have been specifically developed for the respective Asia TOPA projects. The programs named below are specific for their projects and not incorporated into broader streams of programs. Please note that the broader streams, such as the Arts & Politics Series and the MPavilion programs, also include specific programs related to Asia TOPA projects and are mentioned there.

Film Screening with Post-Show Q&A: Our Time Machine
In partnership with the Australian International Documentary Conference, ACMI and The Wheeler Centre

Venue: The Capitol, RMIT University
Date: Sunday 1 March
Time: 6pm
Speaker: S. Leo Chiang
Moderator: Beverly Wang

Post-show Q&A with film director S. Leo Chiang about his documentary Our Time Machine which follows a Shanghai artist staging a play for his father who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

Book tickets at

Post-show curated discussion: Not Today's Yesterday
In partnership with Kingston Arts, City of Kingston

Venue: Kingston Arts Centre - Shirley Burke Theatre, Parkdale
Date: Thursday 12 March
Time: 8:25pm (show time 7:30 - 8:20pm)
Speakers: Seeta Patel, Nithya Nagarajan, Sarah Maddison and Joel Bray

An important aspect of Not Today's Yesterday is the two-part feature of the evening; PART A) the 45-minute one-woman dance and theatre work, and PART B) the 'Post-Show Curated Discussion' that explores and expands upon the themes of post colonialism and whitewashed histories. This takes place between the central creative collaborators and leading academics that are active in different types of geographical and cultural communities. The conversation eventually opens up to audiences and is an opportunity to converse more deeply around the issues raised by this very moving and topical production. More than just a Q&A, it is an inciting thought-provoking discussion around how whitewashed histories impact us today and makes for an accessible and aesthetically pleasing evening.

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