J R Brennan

Community Arts & Cultural Development

The Chat

A new performance created and performed by artists and ex-criminal offenders. Led by performance maker and former parole officer James Brennan with renowned actor and co-creator David Woods.

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JUSTICE…
How do we deal with those who commit crime?
Who gets to decide?
What happens when they get it right?
The Chat is a project about justice.

…AND ART
We are using the stage as a place to explore issues around criminal justice that we think could do with some fresh eyes. The stage is the perfect forum to get the experts – community, offenders, public figures and authorities – talking, thinking and acting. And that’s exactly what we are going to do. It all happens for the first time at La Boîte Theatre, Brisbane this November: a new performance created and performed by internationally renowned artists and ex-criminal offenders.

To book tickets, please follow this link – http://laboite.qtix.com.au/event/LAB_Chat_15.aspx

THE ARTISTIC TEAM
An incredible group of ex-offenders have participated in workshops we have held in Melbourne since early 2014. They have brought expertise and impressive performance ability and are now ready for the stage. They are joined by four artists who have been chosen for their notable talents in performance and design. Four ex-offenders have been chosen from the workshops to join us on stage each night during performance. In the tough, frightening beauty of a heavily surveilled room, performers James Brennan, Ashley Dyer and David Woods lead four ex-offenders through the performance and at times are led by them.

EXPERT AUDIENCE
We imagine you will donate to this project because you are interested in these ideas – we want you to come. There will be criminologists, social workers, police, offenders, mothers, fathers, left wing, right wing, post wing and you. In a final show down that questions the value of redemption, experts and punters will sit in judgment on one offender and on the performance itself.

THE LONG GAME
The performance is a vital part of a bigger plan.
We are modelling an artistic program for offenders and parole officers based on our work so far. The performance is part of our research. It involves role play and allows perspectives to shift within a safe and challenging workshop setting. In 2016 we begin a partnership with Monash University’s Criminology department to explore these possibilities.

WHY DONATE
Your donation is a political act.
By supporting a project that provokes new perspectives on the hidden and personal impacts of our criminal justice system, you are joining an important conversation, and helping to steer it in a positive direction.
Not only that, you are helping this rare and impressive performance come to life.

Thank you for your help

Alex, Ashley, David, Danny, Doddy, James, John and Nick

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JAMES BRENNAN is a director, performer and composer. In recent years his practice has interrogated ideas of crime and virtue.

His work is research led and is often performed in site-specific locations.

Currently James is producing a series of projects, including ‘The Chat’, ‘The Virtues’ and ‘The Mark Of Cain’. All three projects draw on the auto-ethnographic research collected and observed by James in his role as a parole officer and work in experimental theatre in Australia and Europe. Each project aims to ask uncomfortable questions about humanity’s ability to exercise compassion, the importance of human dignity and the role of art in offering new perspectives on the complex task of administering justice.

In 2009 he researched socially engaged theatre practice in Australia, Brazil and Europe, supported by the Keith and Elisabeth Murdoch Travelling Fellowship. In this international program he researched, trained and worked with Teatro Vertigem, Brazil; Wooster Group and Deborah Hay, USA, zapaleni.org and Gardzienice Poland, where he was company member between 2010 and 2013.

In 2013 James returned to Australia to begin his latest performance work ‘The Chat’, completing the first development at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne.

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