MOUNT Gambier professional theatre producer Jamie Harding has grabbed a prestigious state accolade for his cutting edge production on crystal methamphetamine use in regional areas.
Gener8 Theatre Company won the Ruby Award for best community event or project for its In The Pines theatre production.
The award celebrates the best artistic or cultural event, project or initiative of the year that had a significant positive impact on a community in South Australia.
“We were among some very fine competition and to hear we won was amazing,” Mr Harding told The Border Watch.
“Working from the regions definitely has its challenges compared to working from metropolitan centres – we have bigger costs, as travel is a major cost to transport artists.”
He said this meant there was less room to move and play – these costs make budgets “very lean”.
“However, at Gener8 and through the making of In the Pines, fellow collaborator John Crouch and myself made a very conscious choice to completely re-define the model of making and to allow us and fellow collaborators as much room as possible to play and explore until we were confident in the best way to land and tell this story,” Mr Harding said.
He said the traditional model was a playwright and script lead mode, which was important but could “very quickly” narrow down the way a story was told.
“If a playwright is not from the regions we found they can quickly push the story in a direction that will not resonate on a local level,” Mr Harding said.
“At Gener8, we start by placing the regional perspective front and centre and then cleverly find a way to make that universal.”
In every step of the process, Mr Harding said In the Pines was a “giant beast” in large part due to the high level of innovation the company wanted to push.
“I feel that any time you make a work, it’s vital to not just follow the standard path but to really find a story that you believe is worth telling and then find the best way to tell that story and to tell it in fresh and exciting ways.”
Mr Harding said the Ruby win was proof Gener8 Theatre was on the right track and validation that true innovation could be done from the regions.
“At Gener8 Theatre we are all about telling our vital regional stories in fresh and exciting ways – so all we can say is watch this space and continue to support us on our quest to bring local professional theatre back into the spotlight,” he said.
“We thank all our collaborators, sponsors, volunteers and supporters who without them we could not of brought the work to life.
“A massive shout out to local audiences who also continue to support our mission here at Gener8 Theatre, which is to drive narrative possibility, integrate digital technology and provide a nurturing environment for artists to create new work.”
Mr Harding said Gener8 aimed to foster artists’ expression and skill development through training initiatives, push models of making, grow the regional arts sector and provide a platform for communities to connect, communicate, collaborate, share, promote and discuss.
All winners receive a bespoke, ruby-coloured glasswork designed and made at the JamFactory.
The Ruby Awards are South Australia’s premier event to honour the best of the state’s arts and cultural sector.
Named after late arts patron, Dame Ruby Litchfield, the annual awards recognise artistic excellence, creative achievement, innovation, community involvement and inspirational leadership.