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'For The Ones Who Walk Away' flips the script, empowering children to ask the hard questions

When you live in a world of happiness and comfort, what are you willing to let go of for the sake of others, with the promise of nothing? The latest performance from St Martin’s Youth Arts Centre seeks to ask the hard questions.

For The Ones Who Walk Away ambitiously dives into the ethically complex issue that many artists, philosophers, authors, humanitarians and individuals have asked themselves, ‘do we accept the happiness of the majority, at the expense of the few?’
 
St Martins is known for its unique ability to produce content that resonates with adults and children. Represented by The Bacchae at Melbourne Festival 2015, St Martins' latest show invites you to roam various rooms while searching for what is left of the ones who walk away from humanity’s advances.
 
Children from the youth arts centre take the audience by the hand and draw them into the investigation of mystery, philosophy and contemplation that For The Ones Who Walk Away presents.
 
“In a disused building, this group of children retrace the steps of people that stand-up to the system,” explains artistic director Nadja Kostich. “I don’t know how many companies around the world have kids making performances for adults. There’s definitely not another one in Melbourne. It’s a unique opportunity with St Martins because of the sheer scale and its specific nature.”
 
In true fashion of the promenade theatre, the audience is encouraged to walk around and explore the area during the performance. The search leads individuals from the familiar to the unfamiliar through testimonies, song, spoken word, choreography, art installations and video.
 
“What we have is a simultaneous performance. We start in nine rooms where the audience is told the story of the piece by nine different kids simultaneously. Then the audience moves around the building where there are activated spaces creating their own pathway. We all come together in the end to witness something so the simultaneity has a big scope,” Kostich says.
 
For The Ones Who Walk Away has been developed in five Melbourne locations. “We have a number of outreach programs that are really important for us to include; at some of workshops kids are happy to come to us but at other workshops the kids might not have the means to come to us,” explains Kostich. “It’s really important to be equal across all our sites and include those kids in the world of this piece.
 
“It’s amazing that the kids are working with an amazing team of professionals, award-winning artists, and that they are collaborators in the piece together. We are inspired by texts from writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Daniel Keene that speak to the themes of respecting our world, so there’s a whole lot of artistry that the kids are part of.”
 
St Martins is all about inclusive practice when it comes to their workshops, connecting to all cultures, abilities, ages and ways of being. The youth arts centre works to help demolish barriers for children and young people whether it be disability, learning challenges or cultural, economic or linguistic difficulties. The staff at St Martins are trained in Auslan, visual mapping, tactile exercises and working with challenging behaviours. St Martins also offers scholarships for their weekly Northcote and South Yarra Programs as well as free workshops in St Albans, Prahan and Dandenong.
 
These values come across in their performances, firstly in the themes. “We want to do work that's socially relevant,” says Kostich. “We believe that we can make socially relevant work that is of a high artistic standard. The kids want to say stuff. They’re very socially conscious, they’re aware or they’re very interested in investigating.”
 
Secondly, in the performance's accessibility – For The Ones Who Walk Away is wheelchair accessible and Auslan interpreted. The show also includes subtitles, dialogue, background music, and sound effects as well as audio and tactile tours for the visually impaired.

For The Ones Who Walk Away takes over Brunswick's Siteworks as part of Melbourne Fringe Festival from Wednesday September 27 until Sunday October 1. Tickets available here.