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What happened -- and when

On the job at Cullora   

September 1982

Dallas Lewis of Sidetrack Theatre meets Brian Dunnett (a shop steward from Chullora) at an Art and Working Life Seminar.

Brian mentions their theatre/canteen spaces at Chullora. Also their monthly extended "concert" lunch hour.

Dallas' ears tingle.

Subsequent phone calls result in a meeting at Chullora being arranged.

December 1982

Meeting at Chullora with Don Mamouney, Dallas Lewis and Pat Cranney from Sidetrack and shop stewards from the Loco area. The idea of a theatre company residence is proposed and agreed to in principle; Sidetrack to apply for the funding.

February 1983

Application submitted to the Theatre and Community Arts Boards of the Australia Council.

April 1983

Funding approved.

May 1983

Meeting with Area Shop Stewards Committee to let them know that the funding is approved and that it's all go!

June 1983

Pat Cranney (Sidetrack's writer-in-residence) moves in as Chullora's writer-in-residence (own locker and overalls provided)!

September 1983

The company as a whole (five actors and one director) begin the manufacture of the play. This is a five week period of rehearsal and research by the actors building on that already done by Pat Cranney. The play is made through improvisation, editing and refining.

The rehearsal space is the rolling stock canteen. It's a bit dark, especially at 7.30 am when the company starts. Theatre workers take a little adjusting to workshop worker's hours.
The rehearsal period is also a time of lunchtime "events". Our actor's skills are seen as resources to be used, eg. Michelle. Millner does concerts of Chilean folk songs. Some people from outside are brought in. Jon Hawkes does juggling workshops. Videos of art and working life projects which have happened elsewhere are shown. These are spread around the five canteens in the Chullora complex. There is a feeling of 'something happening - something building'.

October 1983

First performance at Erecting Shop (Loco) Canteen to an extremely appreciative audience of around 450 on 5 October.
The remainder of the month, performances in the following Railway Workshops:

  • STS (Chullora)
  • Elcar (Chullora)
  • Carriage Works (Eveleigh)
  • Clyde Workshops
  • Cardiff Workshops (Newcastle)

all to large, noisy, appreciative audiences.
Six lots of schools audiences also see performances in the workshops and combine these with tours of the workshops. The production is also toured to schools (senior students) in the Sydney metropolitan area.

November 1983

The company go to Adelaide for the Community Theatres' Conference. A performance takes place at Islington (Adelaide) Railway Workshops, again to a large appreciative audience.

February to April 1984

The play is revived and toured to Adelaide for the Festival Fringe and for workplace and schools performances in Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie (South Australia).

April 1984

LOCO's last performances - to senior students in Sydney High Schools.

Juggling workshop at Chullora