WiT pic | Julia Smith in rehearsals
Deryk McAlpin

News | Women in Theatre 2017

We are thrilled to welcome thirteen new participants to our Women in Theatre Program in 2017.

This sought after career development program runs for twelve months and sees each participants paired with a mentor in their chosen field as well as a calendar of networking opportunities, leadership training, and workshops covering a range of topics to provide a rounded understanding of how a State theatre company operates.

Established in 2014 as the Women Directors Program and later expanded in 2016 to the Women in Theatre Program to include a broader range of disciplines, this MTC initiative has supported 32 theatre professionals in their career development to date. This program is made possible thanks to the generous support of our Donors through the Women in Theatre Giving Circle.

Find out about each of the 2017 participants below.

Gorkem Acaroglu | Director

Gorkem is a mid-career Turkish-Australian female theatre director who has directed numerous existing scripts as well as new works, written and directed her own work, as well as creating experimental and hybrid performances in digital and documentary theatre. She was Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers Theatre from 2010-2012 and is currently Artistic Director of Metanoia Theatre. Gorkem, and is a graduate of the VCA Director’s course, the NIDA Playwright’s studio and has a PhD in Cyborg Theatre. She was an inaugural Sidney Myer Creative Fellow for her work in reality trend theatre. Gorkem is committed to creating work that represents the multiplicity of Australian perspectives and she works extensively with artists from CALD backgrounds.

Mary Rachel Brown | Playwright

Mary is the recipient of the following National Playwriting Awards – 2016 Lysicrates Prize, 2008 Rodney Seaborn Award, 2007 Max Affords Award and 2006 Griffin Award. Her play, Last Letters has been in repertory at the Australia War Memorial for the last seven years. Her most recent work The Dapto Chaser was staged at Griffin Theatre Company in 2015 and toured in 2016. Other works for the stage include Inside Out (Christine Dunstan Productions), Die Fledermaus (Adaption, Sydney Conservatorium of Music), National Security And The Art Of Taxidermy (The Glynn Nicholas Group), All My Sleep And Waking (TRS). Mary is currently working on a new play for Griffin Theatre Company. Next year Mary’s play Silent Night will be staged at the Eternity Theatre as part of the Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s 2017 season. Her play The Dapto Chaser will continue touring regionally, starting with a run at Glenn St Theatre. Mary’s TV credits include sketch writing for The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting for ABC and several episodes of Home and Away for Channel Seven.

Fiona Bruce | Set and Costume Designer

Originally from Perth, Fiona has designed set and costumes for Black Swan State Theatre Company including The Seagull, Dust, Midsummer: a Play with Songs, Shrine (costume), Boy Gets Girl (PAWA Award for Best Design), Yellow Moon and The Shape of Things (Equity Guild Award for Best Design). She also designed for Deckchair Theatre: The Fremantle Candidate, Lorelei, Ruby Moon (set) and various independent productions at The Blue Room including Standing Bird 2/ Verge (co-designer) (Ausdance WA Award for Design), The Polite Gentlemen, Glengarry Glen Ross and Fat Pig. She was also a set dresser and performer in Oraculous by Teatro de los Sentidos for the Perth International Arts Festival, design attachment on the feature film Son of a Gun and designer for Brown’s Mart Theatre’s education program in Darwin. Fiona studied at Curtin University and WAAPA (2009 David Hough Award for Design), returning to WAAPA as a sessional lecturer from 2010-2013. In 2016 Fiona moved to Melbourne and is currently undertaking a Master of Communication Design at RMIT.

Samantha Butterworth | Producer

Samantha is an Arts Manager/Producer based in Melbourne. She is currently working as Tour Coordinator with Regional Arts Victoria, with whom she has previously been engaged to produce both 2014 & 2015 Showcase Victoria events in conjunctions with the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres.

In 2015, she delivered the inaugural Poppy Seed Festival as Producer and spent the first six months of 2016 laying the groundwork for that year, including the expansion of the Artistic Panel and a new collaboration with Coopers Malthouse. Previously, Samantha has been the Operations Manager for Red Stitch Actors Theatre; served as Administrator for Rollercoaster Theatre Company; and has sat in many roles as a Freelance Producer. Samantha is herself trained in performance and film & television production, having appeared in various theatrical feats.

She is the Producer of award winning theatre collective, Elbow Room, where she recently negotiated the transfer of their smash hit production We Get It (MTC Neon Festival 2015) to the Brisbane Powerhouse. Samantha also acts as Treasurer with Watch This’ Committee of Management and as Secretary for the Elbow Room Board.

Tania Cañas | Early Career Director

Tania Cañas is the Arts Director at RISE Refugee as well as a lecturer, tutor and PhD candidate at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at The University of Melbourne. She also sits on the Editorial Board at the International Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Academic Journal/ PTO Inc. Over the last four years has been working with RISE and NMIT to develop a series of Forum Theatre workshops with students who are recent migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. She has also done a community theatre residency using Forum Theatre techniques with local women in the Solomon Islands. Tania has had her creative work published through Currency Press Australia as well as academic journals. She has presented at conferences both nationally and internationally, as well as facilitated community theatre workshops at universities, within prisons and youth groups in Australian, Northern Ireland, The United States and most recently South Africa.

Angelica Clunes | Artistic Director

Angelica has worked in the arts for over 12 years in a diverse range of roles including arts administrator, project manager, tour manager, festival director, business manager, marketing manager, creative producer and more recently as the artistic director of the 2015 Castlemaine State Festival community program. Angelica currently works as the Cultural Development Officer for the local council in Castlemaine, where she is responsible for programming an annual season of works for the Phee Broadway Theatre. Angelica is passionate about supporting the creation and presentation of brave and thought provoking theatre that asks questions, doesn’t pull its punches, commits to a sense of risk, and makes audiences explore and think. Angelica is working towards being a loud and strong voice in the future of contemporary theatre making, programming and audience engagement.

Suzanne Cranny | Technical Manager/Venue Operations

Suzanne is from coastal central Queensland, had a love for the arts, discovered Production and thought to pursue it as a career. After completing a BA in Stage Management and Technical Production at the University of Southern Queensland and moving to Melbourne, Suzanne went on to tour for over a decade in a number of departments including Company Management, Stage Management, Mechanist, Props, Electrics, Sound as well as Wigs & Wardrobe. She has worked throughout Africa, Australasia and the Middle East. Her show credits include creation seasons of: ZAiA (Cirque du Soleil), Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Chugg Entertainment, John Frost, Back Row Productions & Specific Films), Dusty –the Original Pop Diva (Dusty Productions), Officer and a Gentleman (_GFO) _The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular (DAE Global), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Geoffrey Rush (GFO). She also worked with touring productions of Cabaret (IMG), The Producers (GFO), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (TML), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (GFO), The Donmar Warehouse production of Guys & Dolls (Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theatre Group, Marriner Theatres, and Tulchin/Bartner Productions) and We Will Rock You (GFO).

Kellie-Anne Kimber | Sound Design and Composition

Kellie-Anne’s passion for music and theatre began at a young age and went on to study music theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2008. Since completing she wanted to immerse herself in music and theatre and went on to study a Diploma of Music, Showfit at Centrestage and a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Interactive Composition at the VCA. Her involvement in theatre includes the position of musical director, sound designer, orchestra member and rehearsal pianist. Kellie-Anne is determined to continue pursuing a career in live theatre with compelling detail to sound design and composition.

Clare McKenzie | Executive Director/General Manager

Clare is an avid lover of dance and theatre with over six years of experience working in the performing arts sector. She is currently Executive Producer for KAGE Dance Theatre and in 2017 she will also take up the role of Industry Program Manager at Ausdance Victoria. Clare has significant experience in international market development and marketing gained through her previous position at Circus Oz. Clare also has experience in music and literary management, having worked for acclaimed vocal group Coco’s Lunch and independent bookstore Readings Booksellers. Clare completed her Masters of Arts Management at The University of Melbourne in 2010.

Dans Marie Sheehan | Lighting Designer

Dans is a lighting designer and production manager based in Melbourne. Dans moved to New York City in 2003 to complete an MFA in lighting design at New York University (undergraduate degree – Victorian College of the Arts). In the years following her studies she was privileged to work with a range of leading performing arts companies over a variety of disciplines including Elevator Repair Service Theater (ERS), Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, David Dorfman Dance, Gallim Dance, LaMama ETC, Labyrinth Theatre, The Intiman, Perseverance, Clubbed Thumb, The Wooster Group and many more. For seven years Dans was the Associate Lighting Designer with Elevator Repair Service. Working with ERS gave Dans the opportunity to work extensively at venues and performing arts festivals off-Broadway in New York, across the U.S., Europe & Australia. Touring with dance and musicals has also allowed Dans to step into various roles including production, stage and company management. Dans has held the role of Production Manager with Back to Back Theatre for the last 18 months, where she has toured internationally with Ganesh Versus the Third Reich and small metal objects and played a large role in the delivery of the company’s newest major work Lady Eats Apple, which premiered at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne as part of the 2016 Melbourne Festival.

Erin Taylor | Dramaturg

Erin Taylor is a dramaturg, director and theatremaker. A Graduate of the University of Wollongong Faculty of Creative Arts, Erin established the arts Collective Rue de Rocket (RDR) with fellow graduates. RDR’s work includes This Is My Box, which toured to New York, Edinburgh Fringe and regional NSW._ Micro-Galleries_, their multi-discipline free art project has toured to South Africa, Bali, Austria and Hong Kong, with more countries planed for 2017. As a Dramaturg Erin has worked with Playwriting Australia as a Script Assessor and Dramaturg for the National Script Workshops. In 2014 she participated in the inaugural PWA Director’s Studio and was Literary Intern at Belvoir. Erin has worked as a Dramaturg on new work that has been performed at Griffin, Black Swan, Sydney Fringe and Vivid Festivals. Erin was an Associate Artist with Rock Surfers Theatre Company (2015). In 2016 Erin was Assistant Director on Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production of Patricia Cornelius’ Savages and Director of Cornelius’ Slut for the Inaugural Festival Fatale.

Emily Tomlins | Cross Discipline Practitioner

Emily is a theatre maker, collaborator, actor, facilitator and teaching artist. She is co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of the award winning independent theatre company Elbow Room. Her theatre credits include We Get It (Elbow Room/MTC Neon), The Motion of Light in Water, Now More Than Ever, Fewer Emergencies, As We Mean To Go On, Rule of Three, After All This, A Tiny Chorus and There (Elbow Room), You and Me and the Space Between (Terapin Puppet Theatre/ Darwin Festival), Cyrano de Bergerac (Sydney Theatre Company), Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness (Sydney Theatre Company/La Boite), Hamlet (South Australian State Theatre Company/ Queensland Theatre Company), Constance Drinkwater and the Last Days of Somerset, Puss in Boots, The Woman Before, Far Away (Queensland Theatre Company), Actors at Work (Bell Shakespeare), Julius Caesar, Operator, Creche & Burn, Urban Dingoes (La Boite Theatre), I Sat and Waited but You Were Gone Too Long (Voice in My Hands), Dream Home (Kerridge/ Collyer/Speakeasy), Kindness (Flight Festival), Tangle, We Built This City (Polyglot Theatre – US Tour), Cerita Anak, Trailblazer, Drawbridge, Ants, Separation Street (Polyglot), M+M (Daniel Schlusser Ensemble), Arden V Arden (The Hayloft Project), The Plague Dances (Four Larks/Malthouse) and The One (Fire Curtain Theatre Co/Poppyseed Festival). In 2016 Emily was a member of the Poppy Seed Festival Artistic Panel. Film and TV credits include Winners and Losers, Dr Blake Mysteries, The Underdog’s Tale, Echo Chamber and the award winning Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke. Emily was the recipient of the 2005 MEAA/ Matilda Award for Best Emerging Artist and was part of the Queensland Theatre Company’s Emerging Artist Ensemble in 2006. As Performer and Collaborator she received the Melbourne Fringe Festival Adelaide Fringe Touring Award for There (2008), Melbourne Fringe Festival People’s Choice Award for A Tiny Chorus (2010), Melbourne Fringe Festival Best Performance and Greenroom Independent Theatre Best Ensemble for After All This (2011). Emily was nominated for a Greenroom Award for Best Female Actor for her body of work (2013) and for Dream Home (2015). She has been a proud member of Equity since 2003.

Victoria Woolley | Production Manager

A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts Production School, Victoria has been working as a Stage Manager for ten years. Starting out her career as Assistant Stage Manager with Sydney Theatre Company before accepting a full-time role with The Australian Ballet where she toured extensively throughout Australia and internationally. For four years she stage managed the Company’s regional touring arm, The Dancers Company, travelling to every nook and cranny of Australia. Shortly after, she was promoted to Deputy Stage Manager. Highlights included calling Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake in both French and English in Paris and being the Technical Manager for the Pas De Deux in Paradise exclusive events at qualia Resort Hamilton Island. Since then, she stage managed the Circus Oz tour to the United States and Canada, the Melbourne tent season and regional New South Wales and Victoria tour; was Deputy Stage Manager for the State Theatre return season of North by Northwest and was the Production Manager for Djuki Mala’s tour to APAM Brisbane, WOMAdelaide and Brunswick Music Festival. For MTC, Victoria was the Stage Manager for Pennsylvania Avenue at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival (2015), Peddling and Egg (2016). Victoria is currently the Production & Operations Coordinator for Chunky Move.

Published on 26 January 2017