Tony Le-Nguyen

Actor, Writer, Director

Casino City 1997

Artistic Report by David Everist for the Australian Council.

Artists Involved
Writer/Director: Dave Kelman
Director/Designer: Jane Rafe
Writer/Assistant Director: Chi Vu
Choreographer /Performer: Gerard Veltre
Co-ordinator: David Everist
Project Adviser: Tony Le-Nguyen
Musicians: Luke Halsted, Cameron Reynolds, Amanda Pettman
Video Director: Nicky Tindall-Biscoe
Lighting Design: Shane Grant

The Process
The script and ideas for the performance will be developed directly out of the workshops using hip hop dance and live music. Involvement at all stages of the process to ensure that the final performance will be relevant to young people in the Western Region of Melbourne.

Involvement with Local Schools
To work initially in school time and then gradually introduce young people to activities at the community centre out of school time.

The involvement of the young people at all stages of the process will ensure young people gain skills as artists, dancers, directors and script writers. Emerging artists will work in schools and then involve young people in workshops based at Footscray Community Arts Centre. These young artists work as a team and provide a role model and example which both inspires and involves young people who may otherwise be unlikely to be immediately attracted to the performing arts.

A multi media performance project that uses the plot of Macbeth against the backdrop of a Casino to explore current social trends in Melbourne. The content was explored through dance, a range of theatrical styles and video in an integrated form. The aim is to present a performance which is relevant and of interest to young people who may have no experience of theatre as a from of expression.

The play looks at the impact of the casino, particularly focusing on the Vietnamese community and the Western region of Melbourne. The play looked at race and racism and the marginalisation of Asian communities whilst exploring the complexity of racial dynamics in the city. It provided room for images of multiculturalism as a counter to racist behaviour of certain characters.

The play used hip hop dance and integrated physical theatre to create a dynamic celebratory performance that dealt with complex issues and characters in an entertaining way. It provided a model for young people in the region to express relevant and creative ideas in a positive form. It showcased young people from non English speaking backgrounds who combined creativity, dance, theatre and as awareness of social issues in a balanced contemporary style.

Media Reporting
Herald Sun, 19th May 1996
The Western Independent, 13th July 1996
The Western Times, 27th November 1996
The Age, 6th December 1996
Herald Sun, 6th December 1996
Herald Sun, 10th December 1996
Footscray Mail, December 1996
The Western Independent, December 1996
Footscray Mail, December 1996

Casino City was one of the most successful and important projects of the Theatre outreach department in 1996. This was because it worked on two main levels. Firstly it involved a large number of young people from diverse backgrounds, many of whom would have had little contact with the arts. Most importantly this introduction to the arts was positive, empowering and fun.

Secondly the process which allowed this to happen resulted in a finished product of high quality which exhibited energy and vitality of the young people but also articulated a mature understanding of important social issues. It was a case of good process leading to interesting content and exciting new forms of expression.

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