2006 ABC TV Transcript of Big hART's Presentation of Sticky Bricks
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
Sticky Bricks play wows Sydney Arts Festival
Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons
MAXINE McKEW: There's been little good news to emerge from Australia's housing estates in recent years, particularly those in NSW. There have been riots or serious disturbances from Redfern to Macquarie Fields to Dubbo. In the past, one of the most notorious developments was the Northcott flats in inner Sydney. But over the last few years, an emphasis on building community pride has seen a dramatic drop in drug abuse and crime on the estate. Now the block's residents have teamed with an arts group to produce a play about their experiences and it's become the unexpected hit of the Sydney Arts Festival. Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.
CHRIS SAUNDERS, CREATIVE PRODUCER, BIG hART: We came here three and a half years ago to close doors and people living in fear and trauma and now, with an event like this, the people who are coming down and wanting to know what's going on, engaging, asking what's happening - I think that's a huge shift in attitude and a shift in community, or perception of this community, from within.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Residents of one of the nation's most notorious public housing estates are getting ready to tell their story to a public which knows the block better for its troubled past.
MANDY WALES, RESIDENT: She had a bad image and we're trying to let the rest of the people in Sydney know that Northcott is not what it used to be.
ABRAM LANDA, NSW MINISTER FOR HOUSING (1958): A block of flats to be erected on this block of land will be very much like a lot of apartment houses I saw in Stockholm Sweden. It will be very beautiful indeed.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The Northcott estate was part of a grand vision to clear slums in inner Sydney. Opened by the Queen in 1963, the social experiment, however, soon turned sour.
RICHARD MORECROFT, NEWSREADER, ABC NEWS (1990): Police allege a man shot dead five people in a block of inner city flats. because a neighbour called him a 'dole bludger'.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Once dubbed 'Suicide Towers', the estate was riddled with drug problems and violent crime.
AUDREY PEARSON, RESIDENT: I was happy that I had somewhere and then when the murders started to happen I thought, "Oh, God, have I come to the right place?" Because then, one murder after another, so you sort of get used to it, sort of, oh, well, you're going to hear of another murder.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Audrey Pearson has lived at Northcott for 12 years. The first years were tough, but recently she's noticed things are changing for the better.
AUDREY PEARSON: There's a bit more activity. See, before there was nothing. People were, you know...sort of started to behave a lot better to what they were, because they've got a little bit of something, I wouldn't say much.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Northcott's problems captured the interest of Big hART, an organisation dedicated to using the arts to revitalise disadvantaged communities. The result is 'Sticky Bricks', a play Big hART created with the residents.
CHRIS SAUNDERS: It's basically a celebration of Northcott. It's Northcott, a love story, in a way.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Big hART's creative producer Chris Saunders has been a driving force in the rebirth of the Northcott estate.
CHRIS SAUNDERS: We've gathered a huge resource bank of material just by listening to stories, taking photographs, making films. We look at these bricks and this mortar that's been here for 45 years and we sort of thought, well, there's a lot of story stuck to the walls here, so that idea of the sticky bricks that have got these stories and narratives stuck to them.
AUDREY WALES: I was shaking, I couldn't walk at all, and my mother helped me. She used to say, "You'll never walk again." And I'd say, "Bugger you, I'll show you," and get up and do it.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Now Mandy Wales is on her feet, and rehearsing to dance for an audience - something she never imagined would happen.
MANDY WALES: It's making me feel, gee, if I rehearse anymore I want to go for a holiday, not do the show. I'm awful at rehearsals!
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: 'Sticky Bricks' mixes the talents of the residents with professional actors like Leah Purcell and Kerry Armstrong. Opening night is drawing near and the actors have arriving for the final evening rehearsal. Against expectations, 'Sticky Bricks' is one of the Sydney Festival's hottest items, selling out its four performances. No-one could be prouder of Northcott's transformation than Senior Constable Brett Degenhardt, who's worked the beat at the estate for three years.
SENIOR CONSTABLE BRETT DEGENHARDT, NSW POLICE: We're now showcasing Northcott as a real good model, you know. It's not the solution to everyone's problems. It's by no means...we haven't reduced crime to zero it still continues, but we've got a community now that has a voice.
CHRIS SAUNDERS: The model that we work under is one that can be easily be replicated to suit other communities.
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: 'Sticky Bricks' has become a celebration of a community that's dragged itself up to show pride in its history and an optimism for the future.
MANDY WALES: People who lived next door to each other and didn't know each other have lived here and become friends. It's broken the ice for 'em.
MAXINE McKEW: Hamish Fitzsimmons with that report.
© 2007 ABC