Following four years as the Artistic Director of one of the nation’s leading professional theatre companies for young audiences, Kate Shearer has announced her retirement from Jigsaw Theatre Company to commence her new role as Artistic Director of the Big West Festival in Melbourne from March 2010.
During her time with Jigsaw, Shearer has commissioned and created eight new works along with directing three others. Jigsaw productions have undertaken eleven interstate tours over the past four years, touring to every state in Australia except for Northern Territory and Tasmania.
These tours have included: the Come Out Festival, Castlemaine State Festival, the Australian Performing Arts Market and the Victorian Arts Centre. She has undertaken successful partnerships with three major cultural institutions, one interstate arts organisation and presented ten tours into local ACT schools and seven in-theatre seasons reaching over 37,000 young people and their families.
Under her artistic leadership, Jigsaw Theatre Company has won two Canberra Critics Circle Awards, a nomination for an Australian Writers Guild (AWGIE) Award, and its actors have received two MEAA Actor of the Year Awards. Her productions are characterised by cross-artform collaborations and strong physical performances as a way of communicating with young people. They have utilised new writing, puppetry, physical theatre, contemporary dance, live music, large-scale multimedia and cabaret.
On her retirement, Shearer said: “As the only full-time professional theatre company in the ACT, Jigsaw is very precious and it has been an honour to serve young people with sophisticated and diverse theatre-making over the last four years. As a new works company, Jigsaw can be responsive to national issues of concern for Australia’s young people and through touring, represent the ACT around the country. I look forward to coming back to Canberra to see what the company does next!”
In formally announcing Kate’s departure, Chair of Jigsaw, Andrew Lu OAM, said: “The gift of professional theatre is a truly valuable gift that can transform the lives of young audiences, and Kate Shearer’s innovative work with Jigsaw Theatre Company has extended our reputation as a respected professional theatre company. She assumes her new appointment to lead the Big West Festival with our warmest thanks and good wishes.”
Jigsaw Theatre Company will be commencing a national recruitment campaign in the coming weeks. It’s first show of 2010, Walk the Fence directed by Kate Shearer, opens on Thursday, February 25 at The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre. Bookings: (02) 6275 2700.