Free Theatre is the collaboration of theatre workers, Pongjit Saphakhun. Richard Barber, and Janita Barber. The focus of their work is to bring critical discussion into the public sphere through their dialogue theatre method and to engage in critical discourse around engaged art practice in Melbourne.
Pongjit, Richard and Janita have been based in northern Thailand for over a decade prior to returning to Melbourne in 2015. They established the Makhampom Art Space as a collective space for artists to engage with community at the local, national and international levels. They have embraced the opportunity to immerse within the similar ethos at Siteworks, stimulating an further interest in creative collaborative spaces in Australia and beyond.
2019 - 2020
In collaboration with Moreland Civic Lab ‘survivors’ Alisha Abate and Zheng Chin, and Free Theatre ensemble member, Chris Phung, Re-Imagining Community is a participatory applied research project inspired by the experience of the Moreland Civic Lab. We will reflect on Siteworks as a contemporary urban community space, unpacking the now deceased Civic Lab, the social and community impact of Siteworks’ collective culture and its emergence as a new locus for performing artists. We seek to publish reports and papers in 2020.
2018 - on-going
Free Theatre Ensemble
The ensemble formed following a series of applied theatre workshops in 2018/19 and began to work together in March 2019 to explore a practice in dialogue theatre. The group of Gaby Georges, Lara Week, Juan Camilo Riano, Ajak Kwai, Chris Phung, and Janita Barber are working with Pongjit and Richard in a group-devising process for the work, The Art of Struggle, to stimulate dialogue around contrasting and conflicting perspectives on access and inclusion, drawing on ensemble members’ lived experience. The process will lead to 2 performances at Siteworks in late 2019, early 2020.
Clearance by Cappuccino
Free Theatre is working in partnership with Architects for Peace to develop a dialogue theatre production exploring the difficult debate around affordable and public housing issues. A group of volunteer artists with backgrounds and/or interests in public housing are devising a dialogue theatre production to perform at public housing and other community venues in the City of Yarra. A showing/reading at Siteworks will be held in November/December.