Interview with Joshua Maxwell of JOPUKA PRODUCTIONS

10 months ago
Declan Dowling

Launching in 2016 on the Central Coast, Jopuka Productions is now the regions’ leading youth arts body. They’ve quickly become stalwarts in the local theatre scene as well as players on the national stage. Providing peer driven and professional mentored arts and theatre opportunities to young people (12 – 30) across a range of programs and productions.

When the pandemic hit in March, Jopuka, like most of the arts sector, was forced to halt not just their programs, but cancelled most of their planned 2020 productions, and closed their office.

Artistic Director, Joshua Maxwell, said:

“Overnight we went from having a full season to not knowing if we’d even still exist as a company by the end of the year.”

During the shutdown Mr Maxwell said the company spent the time renovating and sorting their offices, in amongst applying for many grants and garnering support.

“Despite significantly lobbying, the company has been denied any federal or state Government assistance such as Job Keeper. They’ve been relying on the goodwill of their landlord, plus a small trickle of grants, such as the Australia Council For The Arts; Survive Grants to keep afloat.”

On June 10th the company announced their reopening plans via Facebook, and were welcomed by a wave of support from the young people and other followers of the company.

“Our home venue in Tuggerah, The Launch Pad, is a flexible performance space, with no fixed seating. We’ve beem able to configure the seating in such a way that from late August we can welcome back patrons. It’s going to be very surreal to welcome audiences back.”

The re-launched season will kick off with a fundraising comedy chain play called; The Ominous Adventure to Sparkeland, which will be written by the company’s writers group. It will be performed adhering to social distancing rules, thus blocking will be crafted to suit.

Their planned 2020 work of C*ckhead by Tallulah Eden and 2019 return work Bubble by Declan Green are the only two works of the company’s original 2020 season to remain in the season.

“Both C*ckhead and Bubble were in their final rehearsals, with Bubble was due to open the week the shutdown came. We made a commitment to those casts they would get priority when we could return.”

These works will be joined by a revival of their acclaimed 2018 work Gaybies by Dean Bryant. Gaybies is a verbatim theatre work about young people living in same sex and gender diverse families in Australia. Should the four square meter rule be relaxed by December, the company will also host a Mystery Musical to close the season.

“Sadly, 8 of our planned projects and productions have been cancelled. We were unable postpone anything with any certainty as next year is our 5th Birthday and most of our 2021 projects were locked in before the crisis. We hope to revisit some of the cancelled works future seasons.”

The companies relaunched plans can be found via their Facebook or website

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