Please note: Some of the content on this page was published prior to the launch of Creative Australia and references the Australia Council. Read more.

Brink Productions: Memorial

Dec 24, 2018

Brink’s flexible creative model means projects begin from any number of starting points and take any shape to bring stories to life. 

Memorial by Alice Oswald and Brink Productions, featuring Helen Morse, musicians, singers and the Soldier Chorus of community volunteers – presented by Adelaide Festival 2018. Credit: Shane Reid.

Brink Productions is an Adelaide-based small to medium arts organisation which in 2017 celebrated 21 years of creating brilliant theatrical experiences for diverse audiences.Brink Productions is an Adelaide-based small to medium arts organisation which in 2017 celebrated 21 years of creating brilliant theatrical experiences for diverse audiences.

Brink’s new work takes Alice Oswald’s poem Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad and creates a richly layered, large scale theatrical experience. Memorial is an intense and urgent elegy for each of the 215 dead soldiers named in Homer’s epic, and a meditative requiem to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during conflict and war. It is a reflection on the waste and horror of war, of ‘a thousand lives arrested in unspeakable moments of visceral human experience.’

The project involves significant collaborators within the artistic team, including direction by Brink’s Chris Drummond and choreography by Circa’s Yaron Lifschitz. It is performed by one of Australia’s most celebrated actors, Helen Morse, joined by an ensemble of singers and musicians. Jocelyn Pook’s astounding score equals the beauty of Oswald’s poetry, her music creating a landscape through which Morse’s performance travels. Enveloping it all is the Soldier Chorus – 215 community members made up of local choirs and individuals give voice and mass choreographic presence to the text and music. They move as a haunting and uplifting presence across the stage, which evolves from battlefield to meadow to starlit sky.

Impressive partnerships and a sophisticated portfolio of investment were secured to create the work, including an Australia Council project grant and funding through the Major Festivals Initiative – the Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne Festivals were co-commissioning partners. The Barbican Centre in London is a co-producer and international presenting partner, growing the international profile of Australian arts and artists. Other support included Australian Government and UK funding for the commemoration of the centenary of Armistice.

Memorial premiered to standing ovations at the 2018 Adelaide Festival ahead of seasons at the Brisbane Festival and the Barbican. Memorial has introduced Brink to new audiences and artistic communities in Australia and internationally, and has showcased Brink as a small to medium company working at the highest level to create large sale epic performance.

Brink’s community engagement through the Soldier Chorus created connection and an outpouring of creative joy. It enriched the quality of the artistic work, giving lived-experience to its themes and embodying the motivation behind the adaptation: ‘What is being worshipped in this extraordinary stage adaptation of the poem, is life itself’ (Stage Noise).

The DESIGN Canberra festival has become Craft ACT’s major outreach activity, celebrating and promoting Canberra as a global city of design. Craft ACT’s DESIGN Canberra festival commissioned Lucy Irvine to create Surface Strategies at Canberra Airport, November 2017. Craft ACT is supported through Four Year Funding for Organisations and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS). The small to medium sector has been strengthened by the VACS investment over the last 15 years.

Annual Report 2017-18, Australia Council for the Arts

Related stories

Backbone tosses around the perception of what strength is and its limits

‘Circus, as you’ve never seen it before, pushed to its conceptual and cerebral limits… so intensely beautiful it makes you proud to be human.’

Read more