Making Besieged

Sydney Theatre School BesiegedEarlier this week, myself and a number of arts industry colleagues questioned whether it was appropriate to develop and present a play ‘inspired’ by the December 2014 Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney.

The director of Besieged, Jane Phegan has taken time to respond, highlighting the process and rationale for its development and performance.

Making Besieged
After we discussed many other ideas for shows I let the group know that it had been suggested that we might want to look at the Sydney Siege as a topic. We needed everyone on board for any topic we decided to explore and if any student felt uncomfortable about making a show with this as the starting point then we would not do it. We had many other great ideas. One by one we went around the circle and discussed our thoughts about the incident and about the possibility of what kind of show we might make.

Having decided that there were many ideas that flowed from this starting point (such as media reaction, mental illness, the idea and definition of terrorism and what that might mean in our modern world, and where this stems from, how such an incident effects policy and that there was an inquiry underway) we set about researching far and wide and trying to grasp a better understanding as a group about the issues being raised.

We constantly asked questions and challenged our assumptions as much as we could. We reminded ourselves that we are the lucky ones who did not have to live through the events of that day and night. We asked ourselves if we had any right to tell this story. We don’t have any right to tell the story of what it was like inside because we all stood on the outside. So we decided to tell that story, the story of how this incident affected us.

Looking at how we, as a group of young Sydney-siders, absorbed the news of the events of that day and how we attempted to process them. Then we broadened our research to look at media reaction, social media’s role, how politics came into play and then the wider community response (of which we are a part) which culminated in a huge floral memorial.

Our hope is that audience members will feel something about the work. Maybe they’ll hear something they haven’t heard before or simply remember what it means to them. Hopefully it sparks conversation. No show that is ever made suits everyone. There will be people for whom this is an enriching experience and there will be people who don’t like, understand, or enjoy this kind of work.

I love what Terence Crawford – Head of Acting at Adelaide College of the Arts and Arts Party Candidate for the next election said recently, “… Theatre is a phenomenon that grows out of our generosity to each other and our quenchless fascination with our species”.

Jane Phegan graduated from UWS / Theatre Nepean. Australian premiers include Singing the Lonely Heart(Alana Valentine), I Will Always Love You (Tom Holloway) and Homemade (Vanessa Bates). Jane has also voiced a number of radio plays an performed Angels in America (TheatreInk & Riverside Theatres). As Company Artist with version 1.0, Jane has devised and performed in From a Distance..., Deeply Offensive & Utterly Untrue, THIS KIND OF RUCKUS, A Distressing Scenario and The Table of Knowledge. For Siren Theatre Co: As You Like It, Fox (Monkey Baa/National Tour).

Besieged continues its performances at the Sydney Theatre School until Sunday 19 June 2016. For more information, visit: for details. Besieged will also be touring to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2016.

Image: Besieged – courtesy of Sydney Theatre School