Long Long Time Ago - screener

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Long Long Time Ago

Part of the Australian Avantgarde series

Year: 1983/2011, 34 mins
Code: MM-Long

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Long Long Time Ago was the first work presented at the Performance Space in Sydney, which opened on 24 March 1983. It was also the first time that performance artist Mike Mullins completely left his theatrical background and created a work that was purely aligned to visual art performance.

Long Long Time Ago is the metaphorical journey by three young Australians: an urban Aboriginal boy, a Japanese boy and a European girl. Each of them is searching for a common identity and their journey takes them to the centre of the land where they are confronted by the vastness of the desert, which is both real and cultural.
We meet a number of ‘characters’ along the way, each of whom brings something new to the travellers: the bird, who is nature herself; the Bondi Lifesaver, who is a nationalist; the Mona Lisa of the Desert, who will kill to maintain the colonial past and the Drovers Wife, who is the spirit of the pioneer.

Long Long Time Ago is a metaphor about modern Australia and the search for an identity in the post multicultural era. The relationship between the three travellers is far from harmonious and it is only through facing the common need for survival that they begin to find respect, recognition and shared ground.

Snapshot - Mike Mullins's background in performance as a practising artist:

1973 Trainee director, Old Tote Theatre, Sydney
1974-75 Teatr Laboratorium of Grotowski, 12-month residency, Wrocław, Poland, La Mama, New York City, 3-month residency
1976 Shadowline, large scale performance, St Marks Church Hall, Fitzroy, Melbourne & Village Church Hall, Paddington, Sydney
1978 Montage, an exhibition of living sculptures, Pilgrim Theatre, Sydney
1979 The No-One Performances, series of solo pieces performed in the streets of Sydney and in Exiles Bookshop windows, Darlinghurst, Sydney Shadowline II, large scale performance, Pilgrim Theatre & Seymour Centre, Sydney Kitsch or But Please Be Careful, DADA Cabaret piece, various cabaret venues & Nimrod Theatre, Sydney; New York City & St Martin's Theatre, Melbourne
1980 New Blood, a large-scale performative installation, Cleveland Street Performance Space, Sydney

Agent Orange, solo performance, Act 2, Canberra

1980-1985 Founding director of The Performance Space, Sydney

Today Mike Mullins is an accomplished creative director and executive producer. He has performed strategic roles in major international events such as Expo 88 (Brisbane), Expo 92 (Spain), Expo 96 (Hungary) and the Sydney 2000 Olympics. As a creative director and producer of design projects, entertainment programs, cultural projects and special events, he has achieved professional recognition at an international, national and local level. As the founding director of The Performance Space in Sydney, he established Australia's first national institution dedicated to the encouragement and promotion of innovation in the performing arts.


“ .....the strength of the production lies in the progressive intellectual framework out of which the central poetic images arise”. James Waites. National Times. 8 April 1983

“ ... these images, bizarre and surreal, reverberate in the mind, moving beyond the local and specific to the universal and timeless”. Mary Lord. The Australian. 26 March 1983

“... easily the most impressive theatre I saw last week was created by Mike Mullins, perhaps the only truly original performance artist working in Sydney”. Colin Menzies. The Sun-Herald. 27 March 1983

“.... his inspired event at the freshly renovated Performance Space is more like a visual performance art piece. It takes the form of a modern fable set in the sandy crater of a desert”. Berwyn Lewis. Sydney Morning Herald. 28 March 1982

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