Performance explores the role of police

COPS IN THE HEAD

Thursday and Friday, 8pm

Wollongong City Gallery

Free

In his performance piece Cops in the Head, director Stephen Wilson-Alexander draws parallels between the role police play in society and the role our own minds play in restraining what we say and do.

A recent creative arts graduate from the University of Wollongong, Wilson-Alexander says the piece was inspired by his experiences as artist-in-residence at the Wollongong Youth Centre. The performance is being presented by the youth centre and the Wollongong City Gallery.

The title, he says, "came from a book called Theatre Games for Actor and Non Actors by Augusto Boal, a theatre practitioner".

"It talks about exercises to do so that people don't feel their inhibitions so much, to relax the 'cops in the head' - and that's where the phrase comes from.

"That got me thinking about cops in the head and then cops in society. I was wondering whether your mind isn't laid out to mimic society in a lot of ways.

"I was wondering about that first reaction you have towards police. Often it's one of fear or guilt even if you haven't done anything wrong at all, or one of pride that you are not doing anything wrong at all. It's generally anything but relief, I guess, which is interesting given that the police's job is to help people.

"I thought I'd relate that to that part of yourself that stops you from saying something you want to say or doing something that you want to do."

The performance will take place in the former Wollongong Council Chambers. Actors will present anecdotes and stories alongside video projections and sculptural elements involving "reams and reams of paper" and, at one point, an indoor soccer game.

A lot of the anecdotes came from people Wilson-Alexander met at the youth centre.

"It began through trying to make rapport with the kids coming through the centre," he says.

"I was there doing an artistic residency and I thought rather than throw them into theatre sports and drama games and things like that, it would be a lot easier to talk with them and these stories would come out.

"A lot of the kids there have been through a lot more serious dealings with the police than I have. They gave a lot of good stories and perspectives to my thesis.

"There was one kid in particular - and some of the stories may not be true - but the way he tells it is still important."

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