|Vivid Sydney was the inaugural festival of music, light and ideas which ran from 26 May through until 14 June around Sydney Cove, The Rocks and Millers Point - the historic heart of the city.|
Thomas McKinnon - 20 years; Fingal Lanahan - 7 years; Brendan Walsh - life; Eammon Connolly - 10 years; Milo O'Shea - life ... ... ... ...
The lilted roll-call echoed around the hushed Cove: the names of many of the 210 convicts from The Three Bees were accompanied by Aboriginal smoking ceremonies, the clinking of message sticks and the drone of the didge. These dazed members of the hoi poloi, uprooted and transplanted to this desperate place.
Life - life - life - life ...
Campbell's Cove in The Rocks resounded to a theatrical reenactment of the conflagration and subsequent sinking of the convict ship The Three Bees back in 1814 as it lay at anchor off what is now Dawes Point. With small hand-made lanterns floating in the inky waters of the Cove, a sardined-audience watched mesmerised as the drama unfolded before them - the ever changing projection on the Opera House sails creating a magical back-drop, and ferries plying their usual Saturday night trade.
Dramatically-enhanced, the narrative included said cabin boy, his bully of a Captain, hooded helpers-of-death, the Kings-own Red Coats and a computer orchestra glowing red on the nearby pier.
Accompanied by the harbingers of death and illuminated by fiery flame sticks, the hapless cabin boy was led along the Cove and dumped into a row boat for the journey out to the isle of the dead whilst the eeirie convict ship rose slowly from the murky depths, mast askew and canvas in tatters.
The performance featured music performed live by Coda, floating inflatables from Earth and artists from Stalker, Legs on the Wall, Theatre Kantanka, PACT and Jannawi Dance Theatre. The music was a cross between Philip Glass and a Red Centre corroboree. The final conflagration was fascinating and strangely affecting.
This spectacle is THE inspired piece of programming of the entire Festival - it brought our past to life; would that we had more like this. Done with a fine sense of drama (but drop the Avon calling ring tone, please) and with a reverence for those involved, there could be such a recreation around The Rocks and Millers Point each June. But please, whatever you do: don't dumb it down.
We don't have a lot of colonial history, so what we do have, please treat with respect.