Queensland Theatre Company’s groundbreaking team will aim to dissolve creative borders.
Queensland Theatre Company’s dynamic new Artistic Director Sam Strong has announced a new National Artistic Team in an initiative that will see 10 leading artists working alongside Strong to dissolve creative borders within Australia. The team is the first of its kind in the country and aims to combine local and interstate talent in order to nurture both as part of a way toward a more cohesive nation-wide arts approach. “I think it is fair to say that Australian theatre has occasionally been too pre-occupied with State borders, inter- and intra-city rivalries, and owning talent rather than collaborating to develop it,” said Strong. “I want to change that.”
The 10 chosen artists come from a broad and eclectic mix of disciplines, including actors, writers, directors, designers, dramaturgs, devisors, programmers and provocateurs:
Jimi Bani is a Torres Strait Islander performer and writer living in far North Queensland. Bani won acclaim for his performance as Eddie Mabo in the famous ABC TV series Mabo, and this year will perform at Belvoir in Sydney and the Barbican in London.
Wayne Blair is an actor, director and writer of stage and screen, originally from Rockhampton. He’s renowned as the Director of the smash hit feature film The Sapphires and acclaimed ABC TV series Redfern Now.
Margi Brown Ash is a Brisbane-based theatre-maker and educator with a special interest in Artist Pathways. She has nurtured countless generations of Queensland artists and arts workers.
Marcel Dorney is a Brisbane writer, director and dramaturg now living in Melbourne. Dorney is a previous winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award, and was the creator of award-winning work around the country with Elbow Room.
Christie Evangelisto is a world-class dramaturg based in Sydney. Previously she was the Literary Director at Signature Theatre in New York and director of Musical Theatre/Resident Dramaturg at Playwright’s Horizons.
Kat Henry is one of Australia’s next generation directors, having just been named as one of two assistant directors for shows produced as part of Melbourne Theatre Company’s 2016 Women in Theatre Program. She was the former resident director at MKA New Writing Theatre in Melbourne.
Nakkiah Lui is a writer, performer and cultural commentator, who penned Kill the Messenger and This Heaven at Belvoir. Lui is also writer and performer for ABC’s Black Comedy.
Annette Madden is a curator, programmer and producer. She was the former director of BSharp at Belvoir, and executive producer of the Perth International Arts Festival.
Renée Mulder is one of the country’s leading theatre designers, and former resident designer at STC, returning to her hometown Brisbane.
Lucas Stibbard is an actor and director known for his innovative body of work with the Escapists. A long-time contributor to Brisbane’s cultural landscape, he is currently undertaking his inaugural Masters of Cultural Leadership and is on stage in MTC’s production of North by Northwest.
“We’re throwing open the doors at QTC and involving more artists than ever before into key leadership positions in the company,” said Strong. “This is sending a message about our commitment to lead from Brisbane and do things differently. This is a unique leadership programme comprising 60% women, 30% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and 70% Queenslanders. They are the eyes and ears paying genuine attention to artists and their work in various cities throughout Australia, and overseas.”
The National Artistic Team hopes to create pathways and opportunities for artists at all stages of their careers, and as part of that process they are adopting a new approach to auditions. In coming weeks the Company will put hundreds of actors through their paces, but for the first time, they’ll work alongside Brisbane colleagues La Boite to share resources, time and Artistic Directors. Strong also believes that the Team will be useful in addressing questions of diversity – both on stage, and off. “Every theatre company wants to narrow the gap between the people inside theatres and the people on the street outside. How that is achieved is the rub.”
This leading initiative is not the first time QTC has looked for new methods to propel Australia’s theatre industry. Strong’s predecessor Wesley Enoch and Executive Director Sue Donnelly previously created the Reconciliation Action Plan, and the new National Artistic Team is set to further build on the groundwork that the Plan achieved.
“We have National Artistic Team members in Far North Queensland, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and wherever else they might happen to find themselves,” said Strong. “And we are paying attention. So if you are making a show anywhere in Australia, let us know.”
Strong will unveil his first Season (2017) this coming September, with all members of the National Artistic Team present. For more information on QTC’s upcoming 2016 season, visit the website here.