On the road with In Between Two

— by Liz Rogers

Artback NT's Performing Arts Manager, Liz Rogers catches the breeze on the Stuart Highway with James Mangohig and Joel Ma!

“The first time I met James was under a tree at a music festival in Alice Springs…” are the first words uttered in the show.

Thus this tour of In Between Two, which began in Alice Springs, was incredibly special personally and professionally for a number of reasons: it contained stories at the heart of James Mangohig’s and Joel Ma’s lives; it was a chance to share their narratives with the town that played a part in the meeting and making of these two excellent friends; and it provided the opportunity to share these stories with the communities of Darwin that have been such a huge part of James’ and my life since a very young age.

From the first rousing cheers of the Alice Springs audiences, to the young children performing handstands at the back of the hall in Tennant Creek, James and Joel loved the unique and wonderful places that the tour took them. And they were loved in return:

“This show was awesome the way it encompassed experiences which would ring true to so many people and quite possible that it made a big difference to the younger members of the audience – it probably has changed some people’s lives in a lasting way.” – Kevin Banbury, Board Member of Barkly Regional Arts, Tennant Creek.

Driving from Alice, straight up the centre of the NT was such a hit with the touring team – they loved seeing everything along the Stuart Highway and we made a number of tourist stops to look at giant statues, camels, check out alien sightings, see jumping crocodiles and swim at water holes with signs saying “low chance of crocodiles”… the NT did not disappoint!

The behind-the-scenes were not without their challenges of course; our Production Manager got laid low with the flu in our first week in Alice Springs. Fortunately, the local crew and I were able to let her rest and still run the last show there without crisis. She recouped and was ready to roll when we jumped in the van to head to Tennant Creek.

In Between Two was the perfect combination of an amazing show and excellent humans; when you spend every waking moment together on tour, it can be a bit of a potluck. For myself the highlight of this tour was working with James – we’d gone to school together, we’d left Darwin to pursue our various careers in the arts in different states, and then there we were, sharing a show and a tale that is all about beginnings and journeys. To top that off, James was so touched to be able to share the show with his family, as well as NT residents, and I was thrilled to do the same.  To not only be able to share my work with them, but to tell such an important NT story was amazing.