Australian-Pacific artists in free Birmingham shows

Published: 11 August 2022
Reporter: Steve Orme

“The stories, songs and cheeky humour of Papua New Guinea and Australia”: Wantok

Young Brummies are to join forces with artists from the other side of the world for four weeks of creative activities in parks and public spaces across Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games Festival.

Emerging artists with learning disabilities from the Midlands and beyond will collaborate with Australian-Pacific artists in Open Theatre’s Wantok, bringing “the stories, songs and cheeky humour of Papua New Guinea and Australia” to Birmingham.

Open Theatre’s Jake Jarvis, Lukan Smith and Millie Parker will team up with Alyson Joyce and Sean Murphy to create the show which will “include riotous costumes, music, movement and interactive comedy that educates and entertains”.

Richard Hayhow, Open Theatre’s artistic director, said, “the whole team are so excited to have Alyson and Sean coming to join us from the other side of the world. For our emerging artists, it’ll be an incredible opportunity to develop with seasoned professionals who have different experiences and backgrounds.

“It’ll also be a wonderful opportunity to work with young people from locations in Birmingham that we don’t usually reach to showcase their abilities and connect with new communities.”

Papua New Guinean-Australian recording artist, actor and presenter Alyson Joyce commented, “building a show and nurturing relationships from here in Brisbane with collaborators in Birmingham and Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) hasn’t been easy. But for me, it’s been worth it. It’s going to be something different for our audience in Birmingham.”

All performances of Wantok are free. They start at Edgbaston Reservoir on Sunday 14 August and continue at Erdington High Street on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 August, Edgbaston Reservoir on Sunday 21 August, Blakesley Hall, Yardley on Thursday 25 August and Weoley Castle Ruins on Friday 26 August.