Six months after a groundbreaking musical production in the ethnically mixed Queensland city of Logan, the sometimes troubled community is experiencing a revival.
Negative international coverage of a street fight two years ago was the catalyst.
The local council says it has been a turning point.
Stefan Armbruster reports.
It is the sound of Logan locals enjoying a renewal of community spirit in the city’s heart.
Almost half a year ago, this was the site for a one-off musical extravaganza called Under This Sky that put the best of Logan on show.
Deputy mayor Russell Lutton has been a councillor for 30 years and performed in the show.
“I talk to people now — I still talk to people months after the event — and they rave about how good it was. I’ve seen kids who were involved with it, and they’ve just grown in confidence, and they’re still buzzing about it.”
In all, 700 locals performed in the musical that brought together many of the 200 nationalities in Logan, south of Brisbane.
Peter Irankunda is a member of the Queensland Theatre Company’s Traction youth-performance group in Logan that played a key role in Under This Sky.
“I really learnt about different people and how they like to be seen. I knew there would be dancers, but I didn’t know what type of dances they would be doing. I knew there would be cultural dancers, but I thought it would just be people dressing up as other cultures just coming on stage. But it was about everyone, and how they fit into Logan and how they create this Logan community. And, also, created a mean-ass* show.”
One of south-east Queensland’s poorest and most ethnically diverse areas, Logan has a reputation.
A street fight in the suburb of Woodridge two years ago attracted international media attention.
Russell Lutton, the deputy mayor, says that did not help.
“It’s fair to say that, over the years, we haven’t suffered from great publicity. We’ve had a few negatives along the way.”
The local council, together with the biennial Queensland Music Festival, decided it was time to show the world there was more to Logan than Woodridge.
The creative director of Under This Sky was Sean Mee, a veteran of community theatre who has led similar Queensland Music Festival projects in the state’s regional areas.
“These projects have an extraordinarily potent effect upon people, because it’s all about possibility and opportunity. And then that reflects, I think, to the larger purpose of the exercise. Though the performance is one thing, its real impact is about that idea of possibility and capacity — ‘Has this community the capacity to be able to come together?'”
What emerged was Under This Sky.
The musical production celebrated all that is good about Logan.
And it changed performer Peter Irankunda’s life.
“I got motivated to try for leadership. I joined the change-makers group at school. And right now, it’s motivating me to actually chase my dream, because it made me realise what I wanted to do and what I want to become in the future, which is, obviously, being on stage and showing off.”
The council credits Under This Sky with giving Logan a morale boost.
Sean Mee, the creative director, says it was a step towards a brighter future for the city of 300,000.
“The effect on Logan is hard to gauge at the moment, because I think that the real impacts are five, 10 years away. What I learnt about Logan was I think they still have a hell of a long way to go, its creation as a community was still nascent.”