Peek inside private lives at Shopfront’s ArtsLab Behind Closed Doors, a Festival of New Work by Emerging Artists

Shopfront Arts Co-op’s ArtsLab: Behind Closed Doors, is a festival of five new creative works from six emerging artists. This ArtsLab season invites guests to peek into toilet stalls, examine family mythology, strip back the lives of male exotic dancers, poke their nose into Australian-Chinese homes, and eavesdrop on interviews with marginalised voices through the medium of drag. Premiering at 107 Redfern, from 26 February – 1 March, these works span art forms including installation, film, and theatrical performance, to unlock hidden stories, and challenge our perceptions of public versus private persona.

Shopfront Arts Co-op is the home of youth arts. They stand as Sydney’s only cross-art form organisation led by and dedicated to the artistry of Young People. For over four decades, Shopfront has amplified the voices of Young People. Supported by practising, professional artists, our members make bold and ambitious works of creative expression. They champion acts of artistic bravery. They are acknowledged for this bravery through awards, recognition and support of arts bodies, and by the thousands of people who have at one time or another in the last four decades considered Shopfront to be their second home. Being a member of Shopfront means you are part of something. Their co-operative is an inclusive community of artists sharing a common goal of making great art (and having a lot of fun along the way).

Now in its 13th year, Shopfront’s ArtsLab is a hothouse for emerging artists to examine their practice, test and develop new work in a supportive environment, and prepare for a career in the arts. Mentored by Australian industry stalwarts David Williams, Deb Pollard,

Shopfront Arts Co-op’s 2020 ArtsLab: Luke Standish, Brendan Donnellan (aka Tall Jan), Charlotte Salusinszky, Bill Chau, Lana Filies, Lily Hensby | Photo by Joshua Morris

David Capra, Lally Katz, Bhenji Ra, and Shopfront’s own Creative Director, Natalie Rose, these ArtsLab artists have been supported by Sydney’s best. It reflects Shopfront’s commitment to championing the voices of Young People in the arts, as Natalie Rose explains:

“We received the highest number of applications and widest variety of art forms than in any other ArtsLab year. Opportunities like this are so rare, and so important for emerging artists, and are crucial in ensuring a vibrant arts sector in the future.”

The 2019-20 artists-in-residence include Bill Chau, Brendan Donnellan (aka Tall Jan), Lana Filies, Lily Hensby, Charlotte Salusinszky, and Luke Standish. Their works will be showcased daily at 107 for the duration of the festival. In addition to supporting these artists, Shopfront invites emerging artists across Sydney to attend the Industry Afternoon including artist panels, industry speed dating, and free networking drinks, as part of the ArtsLab: Behind Closed Doors season.


ArtsLab: Behind Closed Doors presents:

AMPLIFIER by Tall Jan

What happens when you give a different face to the marginalised voice? Using audio from self-conducted interviews, this video artwork challenges the viewer to recognise experiences which are often ignored and to question the ethics of allyship. It’s time to listen closely. Tall Jan is being mentored by Bhenji Ra.

LITTLE JOKES IN TIMES OF WAR by Charlotte Salusinszky

It was a common Hungarian custom that even in the darkest of times, when two friends met in the street they would ask each other, “Do you want to hear a little joke?” This devised solo performance by Charlotte Salusinszky chases after her grandmother’s anger in the moment that ensured their family’s escape from Hungary in 1956, and pieces together the repercussions of this event on her grandmother and herself. Charlotte is being mentored by Deb Pollard.

PLASTIC SLIPPERS by Bill Chau

Chinese culture was not always met with open arms and a friendly chat with the neighbours, rather swept to the side, quietened by the loud laughter of suburban dinner parties and backyard cricket matches. Come explore the nuanced beauty of Chinese- Australian culture and watch as Bill questions what it means to grow up in an immigrant family in his 2020 installation, Plastic Slippers. Bill is being mentored by David Capra.

STRIPPED by Luke Standish

Have you ever wondered what’s behind the doors of Australia’s male stripping industry? Part theatre, part documentary, Stripped unveils lived experiences of male exotic dancers. From a hen’s night with 10 drunken women to providing the boyfriend experience, there is more to male stripping than just taking your clothes off. We will unpeel perceptions and expose the lives behind these vulnerable, strong, and extraordinary men. Luke is being mentored by David Williams.

STALLS by Lily Hensby and Lana Filies

Through a series of short, sharp scenes, four actors will embody around twenty different characters – a woman who has run out of toilet paper, someone vomiting into a commode and a story about poo. Like light refracting off a single stream of wee, each scene exposes a different facet of world within the public toilets. A quick-fire play, Hensby and Filies’ STALLS is a relieving experience, creating an un-constipated kaleidoscopic view of the private and not so private universe within public urinals. Lily and Lana are being mentored by Lally Katz.


Shopfront Arts Co-op’s ArtsLab: Behind Closed Doors |26 February – 1 March

Tickets and more information are available at shopfront.org.au/artslab2020

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies, and is currently completing her Masters of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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