1989 earthquake remembered in landmark live performance event at Newcastle Museum

Nora Prieto and Roger Ly will perform at part of The Shake Up at Newcastle Museum this month.
Nora Prieto and Roger Ly will perform at part of The Shake Up at Newcastle Museum this month.

Young performers from around the Hunter are set to shake things up with a huge event for the community at Newcastle Museum on the last two weekends in June.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, The Shake Up will bring together teenagers, artists and community members through theatre, art, live music and more to respond to moments of change, both past and future, uniting Novocastrians of all ages to take pride in their shared resilience.

The Shake Up, developed and presented by Tantrum Youth Arts and Sydney-based performance company Branch Nebula in partnership with Newcastle Museum, will invite audiences to jam on sound sculptures made from scrap metal by local musician and composer Huw Jones, bid on damaged goods at a high-art auction run by teenagers, or test their earthquake knowledge on a live TV game show.

One of the young artists contributing to the event, Phoebe Turnbull, 21, will invite audiences to take an audio tour of the Museum exploring the notion of community care in tough times.

"When a natural disaster happens it creates an immediate need for community care. You see people checking in and caring for one another in beautiful and practical ways," Turnbull said.

"But I'm interested to know how we can have that kind of support for each other at all times."

Co-creative producer of The Shake Up, and Tantrum's Artistic director and CEO, Chris Dunstan said collaborating with young people to produce the event has provided a unique perspective on change and disaster.

"I've been taken aback by how open and respectful all the participants and artists have been in discovering stories of people impacted in the 1989 earthquake," Dunstan, who was born in the same year, said.

"They seem to be growing up with a sense of the potential for monumental changes in the future and want to be proactive in approaching those changes."

Tantrum has a strong record of delivering site-specific theatre works celebrating the significant history, legacy and resilience of Novocastrians, including sold-out performances of Manning The Fort staged at Fort Scratchley in 2016, which explored the involvement of the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) in World War II.

Newcastle Museum director Julie Baird said it was exciting to be collaborating with Tantrum on a project that responds to such a significant event in Newcastle's history.

"The earthquake completely shook Newcastle and our perceptions of self. It has been wonderful for our museum team to work with Tantrum and their creative youth from a 'post-earthquake generation' to reflect on how the city changed and imagine what our future can be," she said.

The Shake Up will be presented at Newcastle Museum on June 22-23 and June 29-30 June between 5.30pm-8pm nightly.

It is a free event but capacity is limited so online registration is strongly encouraged. Register at www.tantrum.org.au.

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