Created by Conundrum in collaboration with D’faces of Youth Arts with original concept by Lachlan Judd & Adam Oosthuizen
Area 53 was a Ruby Award-winning cultural mapping and community engagement project conceived, developed, installed and performed by young people. In 2016, Artists Claire Glenn and Anthony Kelly were working with D'faces on a project called "Where To? From Here!" - a response to the administration of Arrium One Steel. What would become of Whyalla if there was no steel industry?
Did the young people see a future for the town and what alternative industries could attract people to it?
Lachlan Judd and Adam Oosthuizen came up with a brilliant idea: to stage an alien invasion. It was such a good idea that the then Creative Producer, Deb Hughes, along with Claire and Anthony, decided it should be a reality.
After 12 months of careful planning between Claire, Anthony, Deb and new Creative Producers Olivia White and Rob Golding, a term of workshops and two weeks of full time making, developing and performing culminated in the production of Area 53. But not just Area 53, the project. The young people involved also explored the town by stealth as they have recorded footage of Aliens and distributed Alien information. They found unused spaces around Whyalla and selected the best space for Area 53. They interviewed members of the community, cultivated their skills in sculpture, animation, costume design, character development, performance, created ARSE (Association for the Response to and Science of Extraterrestrials) before the Government had ARSE (Australian Research and Space Publication) and they brought Immersive Theatre to Whyalla for the very first time.
Area 53 was more than a concept or a piece of theatre – it was completely new experience for the young people involved and one that connected them to professional artists, their communities and, most importantly, each other.
It was a huge, exhausting and, at times, overwhelming project, but it was created and realised by an extraordinary group of young people aged 8-14. It was a credit to their skill, their ambition, their commitment and their determination. It has been a joy to be a part of it.
- Claire Glenn and Anthony Kelly, Lead Artists.
- Area 53 was remounted in 2018 for the uneARTh Whyalla Festival and 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival
- Winner of 2018 Ruby Award for Best Community or Regional Project under $100,000
- Winner of 2019 Adelaide Fringe Weekly Award.