A State of variety

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Doveton & Eumemmerring

The Torch Project

In 2003 an entirely new play, The Bridge, was produced with communities in northern Victoria. The Bridge then came to Melbourne for a sold-out season at Melbourne's Trades Hall Theatre.

Doveton and Eumemmerring were built in the 1950s, mainly for Australian-born and immigrant production workers in the expanding City of Dandenong. Many of the houses have since been sold, often to their occupiers, but fourteen per cent remain government-owned and the area retains a rich cultural diversity.

The Department of Human Services has contracted an arts company called The Torch Project to help facilitate Neigbourhood Renewal.

Steve Payne, Company Director of The Torch Project, believes that community cultural development re-ignites communities, reconnecting people to all they can achieve. Artistic Director Kirk Robson emphasises the importance of people imagining who they could be in their community and discovering their power.

In 2004, The Torch Project organised Idol Quest, an extravaganza of dance with eighty-five performers from backgrounds as varied as The Philippines, Samoa, Tonga, Maori New Zealand, South Sudan, Hungary and indigenous Australia.

Carrying The Torch

The Torch Project has a history of working with housing estate residents. The company began when it developed The Torch at the Atherton Gardens estate in 1999. This play was re-staged a number of times, and went through fundamental changes after this, but the subject matter always remained inter-cultural difference and the understanding of difference.

After 2000, The Torch toured Victoria, often changing to reflect the concerns of different communities with whom The Torch Project rewrote and performed the script.

"Our Filipino dancers performed our native dance Ifugao, a dance of the aborigines of the Northern Philippines. We felt it was appropriate to share the spirit of our native land with the aboriginal people of Australia that night. Being part of the Idol Quest performance was also an opportunity for me to connect with my new community and to feel part of the bigger family of Doveton. As a new resident, I don't know many people except for my neighbours. I now appreciate afresh the people in my neighbourhood. I meet new friends from the cast and we greet each other when I meet them in the shopping strip at Autumn Place. Finally, I really feel I belong to this community because of that experience. It's like magic."
Norminda Villanueva, Idol Quest participant and Settlement Officer for the Centre for Philippine Concerns, Australia Incorporated.