APE was launched at The Studio at the Sydney Opera House on 25 October 2007, following the opening performance of Eyes of Marege in Sydney.
This is an edited version of the speech given by Artistic Director, Sally Sussman:
The sails of the Makassan fleet were thought to be like the wet season storm clouds gathering on the horizon. For the Yolgnu people of Northeast Arnhem land, they signalled the change of season. They are called wangupini, the Yolgnu word for cloud.
The Makassan traders called the northeast Arnhem coast Marege and their word for Australia was Buthamarrigi.
The coming of the Makassans signalled a change of season - I’m hoping that the arrival of Australian Performance Exchange will signal a change of season in the Australian performance landscape. Engagement with our global neighbours and those that come to our shores as the Makassans did for over 400 years, trading relatively peacefully and fruitfully with Yolgnu as visitors, not as colonizers, is an example of a relationship of mutual benefit and economic, linguistic, social and cultural enrichment. As artists, it’s time to counteract the recent rhetoric of distrust, fear and xenophobia smeared on those of difference and, instead, engage with respect and excitement with them. In this batten-down-the hatches world of counter-terrorism and pre-emptive war it seems a political act to engage collaboratively with the world around you.
Australian Performance Exchange aims to do just that.
Australian Performance Exchange aims to create inter-cultural performing arts projects, which express the connections and clashes between traditional performance practices and contemporary sensibilities and between artists from Indigenous & non-Indigenous Australia, Asia and the rest of the world. APE embraces a variety of forms under the widest definition of performative culture and creates new Australian theatre work which responds to current and historic concerns of cultural identity, art and politics, diversity and social justice.
APE is committed to ongoing collaborations between artists both in Australia and internationally.