“HOME”, a performance about belonging


(highlights of HOME)

HOME – HIGHLIGHTS from Metro Arts on Vimeo.

Creative Development period and Original Production: Co-devised, written and performed by Margi Brown Ash
Creative Development period and Original Production: Co-devised and directed Leah Mercer
Creative Development period and Original Production: Musical Composition and performed by Travis Ash
Creative Development period and Original Production: Designed and art installation by Bev Jensen


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“A brilliant concept, and a brilliant performance, but more than that, a piece of theatre that comforts and reassures us, because Margi Brown Ash has proved Thomas Wolfe wrong — you can go home again, because home is here and now, wherever love is” (Alison Cotes)

HOME had two years of exploration before it opened its doors at La Boite in July 2012 with three rehearsed readings in Mexico, U.S.A. and Australia. At each reading, in each country, something about HOME touched a nerve, as afterwards audiences enthusiastically shared their responses:

“…an amazing, moving and transformative experience…”
“It was both your story and mine…one person’s story and everyone’s…in time and timeless…”
“…epic theatre about intimacy”
“…a beautiful/engaging/mature/heartfelt/inclusive piece of experiential theatre”
“…so personal, so multidimensional, so intimate and yet so profound”
“I was transported to the complex and various locations of my home…leaving with a lot in my heart”.

Using humorous stories of survival in the ‘burbs’ as self indulgent daughter, non-corporate wife, stressed out mother, ambitious actor who can, in Brisbane, only imagine playing the roles of her dreams and therapist who wants to save the world, HOME moves backwards and forwards through time, travelling from Australia to Egypt and to the USA, and returning again and again to Brisbane the town we love to hate, and hate to leave.

HOME is directed by Leah Mercer and is performed within a visual art installation, created by Bev Jensen, with multiple projections and hanging Perspex panels that shift and transform the theatre from the domestic to the fantastic.

The sound designer from Eve, Travis Ash performs his original live music and a spoken score of significant world events, which parallel the personal stories of HOME. Travis has several roles within HOME, not the least being the youngest of Margi’s four children who are talked about in the show. Tracing the personal in the political and vice versa helps to extend the reach of the work, to provide access points for every audience member,

As an experienced facilitator and coach, Margi Brown Ash offers workshops to the general public focusing on home, belonging and not belonging. It is an opportunity for participants to re-weave their own stories of home: “I left home at 14. Never looked back. HOME has made me turn around” (response from Chicago). For each performance during the week following the workshop Margi and Travis could weave some of the workshop participants’ stories into the performance itself.

Five minutes, a cup of tea and biscuits with TheNest4Change

Our quick Q&A with Margi Brown Ash from TheNest4Change turned into a cozy afternoon of tea and biscuits as we learned more about the final work in FreeRange’s Sue Benner Takeover series, Home.

My name is…

Margi Brown Ash.

And in my creative team is…

Leah Mercer, Bev Jensen, Travis Ash, Kate Caley, James Newton, with visits from Tim Winter.

At the moment I feel…

Like a glass of wine! No, like we’re in good shape. We’ve had sickness, the ash cloud (our composer is arriving the night before the first dress rehearsal so we haven’t had time to work with him yet), and the director has been sick so we haven’t worked with her for a day and a half. We’ve had a few things happen around it. But we seem to be working still very well. The spirit is high and we’re loving the space.

Best part of process thus far…

I think the ensemble and the fact that we walk our talk. We nurture each other as well as creating a show that nurtures our audience. Kate has been in charge of cookies, tea and soup! We don’t arrive separately, we pick each other up and come into the space as a group. We have check in and check out. We eat together. The ensemble is the best part. We’re loving being in the space together. We’ve created a little home in the Sue Benner.

Home A home for Home.

What I’m testing today is…

Today we’re going to be testing the music. So for the next three/four hours, I’ll do a run, TRAVIS see it, and then we’ll start to weave some magic.

People should come check the work out because…

What we’re wanting is people to come and follow the work. See this creative development – this is first time we’ve shown in Brisbane. We’ve shown in Mexico* and we’re about to show it in Chicago. We’re deliberately taking a year and a half to develop it. A definite decision, so it can grow its own self. We don’t want it to be a fast thing that we get on and get off. It’s a five year plan that becomes an organic project for multiple communities, not just the theatre community.

*What we did in Mexico was a reading. The reason we wanted the Sue Benner Takeover was to weave the art installation and the sound. We’ve never had those, or lights, we’ve only ever had fourteen chairs and me, reading the script. And we’re not interested in getting rid of the script until it’s fully developed.

Creative development is… / FreeRange is…

Oh I think it’s just a breath of fresh air. We’re not trying to show finished work. There’s an integrity about this process.

What I was thrilled about [in FreeRange] was how Dan collaborated with Steven Mitchell Wright to create CROSS-STITCH: Without Apology, which was an astonishing beginning to a creative development festival –it was strong work, rough work, and the artists were really strong people. They managed to model what FreeRange is in just a few hours. There was a freedom of choosing what you wanted to see. The thing about creative development is, you sit in the realm of “I don’t know”. So that weekend, we experienced what it was like to be in the unknown – we came in, got the program around our neck, and just went about the night. They had the flavour from the very beginning. Then we had the FreeRange dinner last week, which I was lucky enough to get a ticket to, which was just fab because we had the chance to talk to others who are also FreeRange-ing and get the chance to connect. That’s never happened before and I hope it stays, because it was fabulous, as was the food. I’m telling all my friends to go to Verve now!

I feel most creative…

When I’m in the space. To get in the space and to be able to come in to rehearse. For the last six months I’ve been an academic, and to be able to be the artist again, and not have to counsel… It’s just the work now, and that’s what I’ve loved, being connect with the work.

An artist I’m really into at the moment is…

The experience I’m really into and has affected me the most has been The Process Project [with Brian Lucas and Nikki Heywood]. What I learned there has influenced me now. It was the experiences we went through that has influenced this process completely. It’s inward gazing. I can’t say that an artist is influencing me, everyday life is influencing me.

Anything else?

There’s just been beautiful support here. People have been dropping in every so often to ask how things are going. We’re feeling valued and supportive. There’s a real appreciation of the whole ensemble. There’s coziness, a sense of belonging. Also, I was trained in theatre in the round, so coming back to this space as it is now is going back to my roots, which I’m really excited about.

Home is the final in a series of Sue Benner Takeovers during FreeRange 2011.
Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June, Sue Benner Theatre, Metro Arts, 7:30pm. $10.
This season of Home is now sold out, but we’ll let you know where it goes from here.
For more information on The Process Project, visit processproject.metroarts.com.au