The Life of Mia
The Life of Mia – Darwin Community Arts, Tiwi College and The Smith Family NT
By Alyson Evans, April 2015
In 2012, senior young women on the Tiwi Islands took part in a year long performance project that aimed to explore Tiwi history through the use of theatre. The project began with the exploration of what it is like to be a 16 year old Tiwi Islander today. From there we created a fictional character named Mia, and went back in time to find out what life was like if 16 year old Mia lived on the islands at different historical times. The resulting 30 minute play was performed at Tiwi College to students and community members.
Not only did the project develop the performance skills of the group, it inspired students to become passionate about preserving their culture, including learning ceremonial songs sung in old Tiwi language, to teach the younger students and prevent them from dying out.
‘Whilst the students have tackled difficult issues in the course of this project, the overall atmosphere in all sessions has been one of happiness, friendship and, very importantly, hope. Through performance, these young women have considered the way their lives and communities are now, and how they want them to be in the future. They feel empowered, confident and keen to bring about change.’
- Ailsa MacFie, Senior Young Women Teacher
A leading factor to The Life of Mia’s success was the strong partnerships that were there throughout. I had already spent one year flying on little aeroplanes that took me across the sea to the north of Darwin to work with Tiwi College senior girls, so a relationship was already built. Their teacher, Ailsa MacFie and teaching assistant Dianne Moore were both incredibly supportive of the project, and I strongly believe it was their continued commitment and enthusiasm that was a key to its success. They participated in every activity, and together, we all went on a journey.
Partnering with the schools curriculum meant there was more value placed on the work from the participants. During our weekly drama workshops the girls would creatively explore their history, but the work did not stop there. During class time the girls researched by visiting the islands art centre, interviewing elders, and long time residents on the islands.
Alyson Evans is a theatre practitioner with professional experience working within the arts sector as an actor, tutor and community arts and cultural development worker. Alyson shared the 2015 Australia Council for the Arts Kirk Robson Award with Alysha Herrmann.
Alyson’s practice has taken her across the world, from working as an actor, drama tutor and community artist in the UK to being an assistant director at one of America’s leading performing arts camps in New York, to Australia where she has spent 3 years living and working in the Northern Territory before relocating to Sydney in 2014.
Alyson is a highly skilled facilitator that has delivered theatre projects in schools, prisons, community hubs and many remote Indigenous communities.
Outside of her CACD practice Alyson is a performer and has spent time on the boards of Darwin Theatre Company and Brown’s Mart Theatre. Check out her website here.