In the 1950’s and 60’s workers and families came from around the globe to work Australia. They were drawn to Cooma NSW and to the Canberra region, forming bonds and belonging, pioneering cultural diversity in Australia. Culminating in a musical and documentary theatre work Ghosts in the Scheme, Project Cosmopolitana captures stories from Cooma’s time as a gateway to the Snowy Mountain Scheme, together with the stories that comprise the contemporary landscape of the region and the forming of the nation’s capital.
Through workshops in music, dance, oral history and archival research with the Cooma community, Project Cosmopolitana generated a wealth of material to feed into the major theatre production Ghosts in the Scheme, and the ensuing touring show Concert Cosmopolitana – a wonderful cache of stories to share with the nation.
Big hART was invited to work with the Cooma community to create the work, and extends into Canberra in the creative process of story collection, oral history, recipe collection, movement workshops and archival image research. Ghosts in the Scheme premiers in September 2015 as a co-production with Canberra Theatre Centre. It celebrates cosmopolitanism and is a timely provocation to current discussions around migration and cultural diversity in Australia.
Concert Cosmopolitana – “We All Come From Somewhere Else.”
Featuring the five brilliant musicians of Mikelangelo & the Black sea Gentlemen, Concert Cosmopolitana is a riotous, fast-paced, explosion of sound, image and story, drawing on the experiences of the 120,000 people – many of them fleeing war and turmoil around the world – who arrived in the tiny town of Cooma in NSW in the 50s and 60s to help build The Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme.
To be launched in early 2017.
Concert Cosmopolitana 2016-2017
‘Concert Cosmopolitana is the latest collaborative expression of this work in Cooma between Big hART and Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen. The form of the concert is based around a deconstruction and melding of a concert, a theatre show, a variety night, or a cosmopolitan club. Concert Cosmopolitana uses the energy of the Gentlemen and the music they have created in a cosmopolitan evening that will roll out across the country, potentially collecting story and image and interviews and recipes and cooking in each location, as a rollicking expression of optimism to counter the fear mongering of other contemporary media commentary’.
Big hART Creative Director
“Ghosts in the Scheme” is a compelling drama, infused with song, image, dark humour and featuring the high-octane, musical force that is Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen. The sure hands of Lex Marinos, Anne Grigg and Bruce Myles weave a story of three complex friendships, full of the secrets, loves, and twists of fate that so called “ordinary” lives embrace.
As life’s endgame approaches, these characters can enjoy passive acceptance or relish fighting the inevitable, and each takes a different path. “Ghosts in the Scheme” tackles the “right to live”, the “right to die” and the “right to passion,” interweaving these themes with true-life stories of love and cosmopolitanism from the gothic beauty of the Monaro, the Snowy Mountains.
Cooma has always been a gateway to pleasure, and in the 1950s it played host to an extraordinary influx of cosmopolitanism as people arrived from around the world, escaping their past, to work on the Snowy Mountain Scheme. They brought with them ideas, espresso, food, music, dancing and optimism for love and life in the New World.