Created by Claire Glenn & Anthony Kelly in collaboration with D’faces of Youth Arts with original concept by Lachlan Judd & Adam Oosthuizen
Area 53 is a cultural mapping and community engagement project conceived, developed, installed and performed by young people. In 2016, Artists Claire Glenn and Anthony Kelly were working with D'faces on a project called "Where To? From Here!" - a response to the administration of Arrium One Steel. What would become of Whyalla if there was no steel industry? Did the young people see a future for the town and what alternative industries could attract people to it?
Lachlan Judd and Adam Oosthuizen came up with a brilliant idea: to stage an alien invasion. It was such a good idea that the then Creative Producer, Deb Hughes, along with Claire and Anthony, decided it should be a reality.
12 months of careful planning between Claire, Anthony, Deb and new Creative Producers Olivia White and Rob Golding, a term of workshops and two weeks of full time making, developing and performing have culminated in the production of Area 53. But not just Area 53, the project. The young people involved have explored the town by stealth as they have recorded footage of Aliens and distributed Alien information. They have found unused spaces around Whyalla and selected the best space for Area 53. They have interviewed members of the community, cultivated their skills in sculpture, animation, costume design, character development, performance, created ARSE (Association for the Response to and Science of Extraterrestrials) before the Government had ARSE (Australian Research and Space Publication) and they have brought Immersive Theatre to Whyalla for the very first time.
Area 53 is more than a concept or a piece of theatre - it's a completely new experience for the young people involved and one that has connected them to professional artists, their communities and, most importantly, each other.
It has been a huge, exhausting and, at times, overwhelming project, but it has been done by an extraordinary group of young people aged 8-14. It is a credit to their skill, their ambition, their commitment and their determination. It has been a joy to be a part of it.
- Claire Glenn and Anthony Kelly, Lead Artists.
Please enjoy this short film of the original Area 53 by D’faces Alumni Michael Rostig.
To see more of Michael’s diverse artistic practice checkout his website:
Cast: Ryan Cowling, Ben Cowling, Joseph Matthews, Harper Matthews, Lachlan Judd, Adam Oosthuizen, Amelia Walden, Star Cruse, Tyrone Wood, Hayden Poyner, Luca Schmidt, Jonathan Schmidt, Claire Glenn, Rob Golding, Anthony Kelly, Antony Newland, Jennifer Barsby
Concept by: Lachlan Judd & Adam Oosthuizen
Lead Artists: Claire Glenn & Anthony Kelly
Workshop Facilitators: Claire Glenn, Rob Golding, Deb Hughes, Anthony Kelly, Michael Rostig, Olivia White
Directors: Claire Glenn & Anthony Kelly Technical Design - Anthony Kelly Animation - Michael Rostig Prosthetics - Claire Glenn Installation Artist - Olivia White
Set and Prop Creators: Adam Oosthuizen, Lachlan Judd, Tyrone Wood, Harper Matthews, Joseph Matthews, Star Cruse, Ben Cowling, Ryan Cowling, Zusi Cowling, Amali Kaesler, Aimee Kaesler, Connor Walden, Amelia Walden, Claire Glenn, Rob Golding, Deb Hughes, Anthony Kelly, Olivia White
Stage Managers: Rob Golding & Connor Walden
This project was funded by the Government of South Australia through the Regional Arts Fund and Country Arts SA
Characters of Area 53
Winston Northbrook Van Diesel (Joseph Matthews)
Winston Northbrook Van Diesel is the Chief Scientist in this part of Area 53. He is also a part of the Association for the Response to and Science of Extraterrestrials and a friend of Eric Parsons. He is ARSE's "man on the inside" and believes that the public has a right to know that Aliens exist and that they are right here in Whyalla.
Eric Parsons (Anthony Kelly)
Eric Parsons used to be a Security Guard and worked many late nights. It was during one of these late nights that he had his first encounter with Aliens. Since then, he has been obsessed with finding Aliens. He is the Head of the Association for the Response to and Science of Extraterrestrials and works tirelessly to uncover the truth about the existence of Aliens. He knows they are real and he is going to prove it to you.
Tina Parsons (Amelia Walden)
Tina Parsons is the daughter of Eric Parsons and is a martial arts expert. She is also passionate about finding Aliens but for slightly different reasons to her father. Tina would like the Aliens to leave Earth as she thinks they could pose a risk to Humans. She also thinks that the Government covering up the existence of Aliens is weird and unfair.
Harry Richardson (Hayden Poyner)
Harry Richardson is Area 53's resident Hacker. He hacks into Alien communications, translates it to Binary, reads it and then explains it to everyone else. He's also a Security expert and loves secretly spying on the Men in Black. He loves Krispy Kreme Donuts but will eat any donut if Krispy Kremes aren't available.
Professor Wood (Tyrone Wood)
Professor Wood is the nephew of Eric Parsons and is a Linguistics and Extraterrestrial expert at Area 53. He's friends with Winston and John Dumpling. He thinks the Government is ripping the public off by keeping the existence of Aliens a secret. He wants to help ARSE beat the Government to it and make it look like they have discovered Aliens, rather than them.
John Dumpling (Ben Cowling)
John Dumpling is an Aeronautical Engineer working at Area 53. He is an expert in classifying and identifying aircraft and investigating their technology and how they function. His best friend is Arthur Bobsly. He does not like Eric Parsons and does not want any member of the Association for the Response to and Science of Extraterrestrials to infiltrate Area 53 and he believes that the Government is doing the right thing in covering up the existence of Aliens.
Custard Butterfingers (Adam Oosthuizen)
Custard Butterfingers is a 7th generation Assassin and a Man In Black. He is passionate about killing Aliens but also making anyone who knows too much "disappear". He enjoys guns, chasing Aliens, smoking and the occasional movie. His only friend is Siri. He does not like Eric Parsons and he is extremely angry that he has not yet made him "disappear".
Toby Thin-Hair 330 (Lachlan Judd)
Tony Thin-Hair 330 is a Man In Black. He is a Man In Black because the Government pays him to do it. He once had the same dog as Eric Parsons for one day and his only friend is Siri as well. He likes smoking, drinking beer and watching movies. His most recent movie experience was Dora The Explorer which he rated a 5.5 out of 10. He thinks the existence of Aliens should be kept a secret otherwise the public will go bonkers.
John Ron (Jono Schmidt)
John Ron is a young recruit and a computer nerd. He's an employee at Area 53 and is in Communications. He loves to listen to the Fast Radio Burst captured by Area 53's satellites. His friend Jake is also in Communications and they live together. His favourite food is pepperoni pizza and he firmly believes that the existence of Aliens should be kept a secret.
Jake Esther (Luca Schmidt)
Jake Esther is a young recruit at Area 53. His specialty is in Alien languages. He deciphers brain waves, voices and FRBs. He has no family but his best friend is John Ron who he lives with. He loves nachos and agrees with John Ron that Alien activity should be kept a secret.
Arthur Bobsly (Ryan Cowling)
Arthur Bobsly is an Extraterrestrial Communication Analyst at Area 53. He is obsessed with Alien codes, frequency and communication data. He does not want anyone outside Area 53 to see this data and he will do anything to protect it. His best friend is John Dumpling - they were born on the same day, in the same hospital and went to the same school. He takes special pills so he can stay awake all the time. He doesn't want to fall asleep in case he misses some important piece of Alien communication.
Edith Rose (Claire Glenn)
Edith Rose is Alien Biologist and the mother of Isobel Rose. She has been working at Area 53 for 25 years and her specialty is in the Internal Physiology of different Alien Species. She is secretly a part of the Association for the Response to and Science of Extraterrestrials and is sick of the Government covering up the existence of Aliens especially because they don't treat Area 53 employees very well. They all work long hours for very little pay.
Isobel Rose (Harper Matthews)
Isobel Rose is a 20 year old Nobel Prize winning Alien Biologist and genius. She started working at Area 53 when she was just 15. She juggled her University Studies with her job at Area 53. She is an expert in how Aliens react to the Earth's Atmosphere but is also fascinated by their internal organs and their bacteria. Isobel is also a member of the Association for the Response to and Science of Extraterrestrials and has helped Winston get Eric Parsons and his organisation into Area 53.
Z1, The Alien (Star Cruse)
Z1 is 121 and loves to eat human guts. She was found by Eric Parsons one dark and lonely night but, before he could do anything to help her, the Government captured her and took her to Are 53.
Her language may sound like a series of hisses but it is complex and detailed. Her favourite food is human guts and if she ever escapes Area 53 she will destroy humanity and eat their guts.
Arbitter, The Alien (Connor Walden)
Arbitter is a 400 year old Alien who was an Elite Soldier on a Special Ops mission to rescue his fellow Aliens when he was captured by Men in Black and taken to Area 53. On his first trip to Area 53, Eric Parsons tried to free him but he failed. All Arbiter wants is to be friends with human beings but, first, he must try to break free of his holding cell.
Bee Jee the Alien (Antony Newland)
Bee Jee is 9 years old in Earth years but much older in his own planet's years. He was on Earth for an invas.... holiday, when he was captured by Men In Black and taken to Area 53. He is an expert in Zero Gravity Space Volleyball, Nano Construction and Daily Earthling Activities. He has 788 living relatives and has met ever single living being on his home planet. He loves cheese toasties and almonds and cheese and almond toasties. He wants to escape Area 53 so that he can eat more toasties.