The Glasshouse will host a magnificent exhibition from June 3 to July 10 – celebrating 10 years of Bago Magic Performance Group’s success. Mariet Ludriks highlights the history behind the group and tells us more about the exhibition.
What’s the history behind Bago Magic?
Bago Magic Performance Group (BMPG) started in 2001 with five very enthusiastic participants. It began as a leisure activity for People with a Disability (PwD) from Wauchope and surrounding areas. Participants mainly engaged in an exercise program at the Showground hall.
This hall, by coincidence, has a fabulous stage, and before long some of the participants climbed onto the stage to act out their favourite character or just to muck around. It was great!
Maryanne Steitz and I then started looking for a drama tutor and for funding to pay this person and buy materials to make props. We found the lovely Stephanie Cummings, and soon our very first performance The Days of our Lives was ready and performed at the Bago Festival. By then the word had spread and we were attracting more and more participants, mostly PwD. Everyone took part in this first show – even the exercise instructor and her daughter!
By now we also started offering drumming and story telling workshops and had a naming and logo competition. This is when the name ‘Bago Magic Performance Group’ was born.
For the participants, Bago Magic is all about participating. It’s about making BIG shows and new friends. It’s about developing a sense of belonging, new talents and a passion for theatre, music, dance, visual arts and other art forms. It also encourages members to support each other, solve problems and express ideas.
Bago Magic is and wants to be seen as a community arts group, not a drama group for PwD. This is not always understood – especially when trying to raise funds. Often people ask us why we do not go for disability funding. The reason is that we want to be on an equal footing with other community arts groups. We invite people with and without disabilities to join us because of their interest in the Arts, not because of their disability – achieving true accessibility and integration.
How did you become involved with the group?
I was the support worker, working for Hastings District Respite Care, who organised the exercise group – which later, with the enthusiastic help, support and advice of Maryanne Steitz (also working with PwD), turned into BMPG. Within a few years, BMPG became an incorporated not for profit organisation.
Today, even though most of the participants of BMPG have a disability, BMPG is accessible to all. My role now is as BMPG Coordinator. I look after the week to week running of the group, making sure it all runs well. I also liaise with tutors, artists, Disability Services, parents and carers and the fabulous BMPG committee.
How many members are currently a part of the group – and what makes them so special?
Currently BMPG has about 40 members. Our members are just like you or I. They have dreams and aspirations and like to excel to the best of their abilities, working as hard as possible to achieve this. Their ‘specialty’ is their amazing undiscovered talents, creativity, spontaneity and sense of humour. It’s so inspiring to be a part of!
What are some of the productions Bago Magic has been involved with over the past 10 years?
BMPG has done many productions and participated in many community events over the years. They are all memorable, fabulous and unique. The biggest show with the most participants we ever did was Island Dreaming, directed by Angela McPherson with assistance from Elly Francimont, Claude Teyssier and Margrit Rickenbach. It was at Players Theatre and a challenging but brilliant production.
To be honest, BMPG have done so many excellent performances, it would do them no justice just to mention them.
What is one of the most memorable you’ve had during your time with Bago Magic?
My most memorable experience was our latest performance Suspicious Baggage under the direction of Emil Wolk and Chris Tejcek at the Port Macquarie Glasshouse. The excitement of performing at this beautiful venue was almost too much for the group! When we arrived downstairs in the change rooms, 40 participants raced for their own lightbulb surrounded mirror and sat there excited, nervous and eagerly awaiting the make-up artist, Celia Steadman, to come along and transform them.
When the show started, these guys gave the best performance of their lives. At the final bow, they were filled with pride and grinning from ear to ear, with an incredible sense of achievement and rapturous applause from the audience.
For the first time in Bago Magic’s history, confident performers were on stage by themselves and performed their highly entertaining pieces professionally! Unforgettable!
An exhibition celebrating 10 years of Bago Magic will be held at the Glasshouse from June 3 to July 10. What types of items will be displayed?
It really depends on the amount of space we will have, and that will be decided by the curators. I am sure they will turn it into something very special and memorable for all of us. We are so excited!
Some of the items displayed will be props, scripts, idea books, photos, masks, paintings and posters. It will be great for children and amazingly colourful!
What’s your favourite piece from the exhibition?
Our ‘pièce de résistance’ is our elephant. He is magnificent – a beautiful blue specimen. He is also very big, so we are not sure if he will be welcome in the Glasshouse! I am sure they will fall in love with him when they see him. If he is welcome, we will have to walk him there, as he is too big for a car or van. Luckily, he has wheels under his feet!
Our elephant was a prop in our India is … production, performed at St Columba school in 2009. Artist Claude Teyssier made him on his property at Byabarra. To get him to Port, we had to carry him through a swollen creek and put him on the back of a borrowed ute. Quite a spectacle!
BMPG participant, Josh Oakden, made the elephant his beloved prop and lovingly painted him blue!
Is Bago Magic still taking new members?
At this stage, BMPG membership is closed. If people are interested, we can send them an information package for 2012, as spaces become available. We constantly need to source funding, and donations are most welcome. I can be contacted on 0409 909 395 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our address is PO Box 797, Wauchope, NSW. 2446.
Interview by Jo Atkins.