Analogue leadership in a digital world

In January 2023 UK Trustee Louise Sibley and I attended the launch of “Lost Histories” at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.  Since then Troy Russell, Leila Harrison and Susie Bishop have performed to numerous schools around Australia with more to come in 2024.

It has been a pleasure working with Troy and one very hot summer day in January he and I sat down for lunch and I asked him what he’d like to do next.  He, perhaps mistakenly!, mentioned that he was bored, so on further interrogation and exploratoin he suggested that he would like to explore something that brought together music, dance and story together in a way that “could combine bleeding-edge technologies, physical stagecraft techniques, interactive experience design, and thematic worldbuilding executed at a level not yet achieved by existing immersive theatres.

As always we love a little challenge in the intersticial space at Intersticia and so I asked Troy to develop the idea a little more and after some thinking he came up with a proposal in which he stated that:

“The theatre industry needs to continue innovating and pushing creative boundaries to attract larger modern audiences accustomed to advanced hyper realistic media. Experiential live events like “Sleep No More” have shown the powerful impact immersive theatre can have on audiences when they are plunged into an alternative theatrical world. These productions allow people to transcend the passive spectator space and become embedded in a self-discovered narrative. While burgeoning in small retail settings, immersive theatre has yet to break into larger venues with strategic scalability. The opportunity now exists to create a new form of technologically enhanced storytelling integrating cutting-edge technologies into layered, multidimensional settings.”

Our aim is to manifest a proof-of-concept production that enthrals audiences and spawns a new form of entertainment that forges deeper emotional connections between the observer and the observed.

Challenge accepted! So we began talking about how we could support him to begin exploring such a venture.

The first thing Troy needed was a venue and an organisation to potentially host such an initiative.  We asked Musica Viva but they didn’t feel that something as new as this was in their remit, and so I thought about which organisation we’ve worked with would be up for an adventure.  The obvious person that came to mind was Greg Khoury, Chair of 5 Eliza Street, particularly since we had supported their recent initiative “Darkness“. Darkness, whilst not being commercially successful, had a profound impact on 5Eliza because it brought in new audiences, it required a complete revamp of the physical space, and it had had tested the waters for ground-breaking performance.

It didn’t take long before Greg and his 5Eliza Board decided to support Troy’s project and they have been absolutely marvellous from the outset in providing Troy with both a base from which to work together with advice and support.

The next step was for Troy to gather around him a team of creative people with whom to conjure up new ideas, to push boundaries and to collectively co-create this new ‘world’.  The team he has selected comprises:

Troy had his first ‘Gathering’ in March where he brought some of his team together to ‘launch’ the initiative.  This was followed up by a second event in April.

We are hugely proud of Troy to have taken up this challenge and I am personally intensely curious and excited as to what may emerge. We have merely helped him light the fuse, and what comes next has the potential to be truly ground breaking.

Our thanks to Greg Khoury and all at 5 Eliza Street, and to Troy and his courage to enter some uncomfortable and unchartered territory.