Return to Escape from Woomera
Presented by Arts House and Melbourne Knowledge Week
Tue 21 – Sat 25 May, 6.30pm
Audiences are able to leave and re-enter the space at any time
$35 / $30 / $25
5 Blackwood St,
Please note that this work contains both discussion and depiction of the real experiences of refugees in detention, which may be distressing.
Auslan Interpreted Fri 24 May, 6.30pm
Sixteen years ago a group of Australians rocked the political landscape with Escape from Woomera, a video game putting players in the shoes of a refugee escaping detention. Now the sprawling creative collective Applespiel invite you to make your own bid for freedom as part of a turbo-charged and retro-fitted evening of live gaming, performance, discussion and debate. Each night the artists conjure a live commentary to accompany the gameplay alongside human rights advocates, refugees and the game’s original makers, exploring the ongoing significance of this singular cultural intervention.
Long before ‘serious games’ became normal, Escape from Woomera had already cemented itself in the mythology of Australian art activism. It did so by tearing the heart out of another mythology – that of Australia as the ‘lucky country’, the land of mateship, built by immigrants and welcoming to all. The result was a wildly controversial video game that incited a media uproar when people got wind of its subject matter. The country it depicted was a place where refugees are locked up in island prison camps, and the mythology is maintained by distance, bureaucracy and silence.
Applespiel are a collective of eight artists who collaborate as performers, musicians, technicians and devisers. None of its members have any lived refugee experiences, but know that as Australians they’re complicit in the treatment of asylum seekers. Detention has been a political point-scorer since Applespiel were infants, and a defining way in which this nation engages with the rest of the world.
Proudly supporting the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
Lead artists: Applespiel (Nathan Harrison, Emma McManus, Rachel Roberts, Simon Vaughan)
Dramaturge: Paschal Daantos Berry
Technical director: Solomon Thomas
Lighting and set designer: Emma Lockhart-Wilson
This event is part of Melbourne Knowledge Week, 20 – 26 May 2019, proudly presented by the City of Melbourne.
Supported by – Return to Escape from Woomera was commissioned by Performance Space, Sydney for Liveworks 2018. Supported by the City of Melbourne through Arts House.
Image – Escape from Woomera, 2003 (Game Still)