Queensland Theatre Company’s new Artistic Director Sam Strong will be heading up a team of 10 leading artists in an Australian-first program to create an exchange and dissolve borders between the best of Queensland and the best of the rest of the country.
Featuring an extraordinary lineup of artists from a deliberately eclectic mix of disciplines including actors, writers, directors, designers, dramaturgs, devisors, programmers and provocateurs, the QTC’s National Artistic Team includes Jimi Bani, Wayne Blair, Margi Brown Ash, Marcel Dorney, Christie Evangelisto, Kat Henry, Nakkiah Lui, Annette Madden, Renée Mulder and Lucas Stibbard.
Strong says, “This is a unique leadership team comprising 60% women, 30% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and 70% Queenslanders… They are the brains and hearts thinking about what Australian theatre needs, and sharing their intense passion for its magic”.
Strong took some time out to speak with AussieTheatre reporter, Bobbi-Lea to talk about the program, which came about through, “a long period of reconnaissance and a hunch”.
After Strong began his tenure at QTC he began meeting with artists to work out the best approach. The ‘hunch’ was “to include more people and a wider range of artists”.
The novel thing about the scheme is its national reach, emphasising the need, “not to look in our backyard, but all of the cities including Far North Queensland, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne”.
Strong said creating career pathways for artists was another key area of focus for the new National Artistic Team, “to create opportunities for others and do more to look after people at all stages of their careers”.
A welcome offering for many emerging artists in Brisbane, struggling to break into the professional arena, Strong is realistic in his approach, “the gap between the large amount of talented people and relatively small amount of opportunities is something you cannot avoid in the arts,” but aims to link opportunities for these artists on the fringe.
“A concrete step is to pay attention and see people’s work and be inclusive”.
Another pathway for emerging artists is QTC’s new approach to auditions.
“In a few weeks we will throw open the doors of the Company to see the work of hundreds of actors. But, for the first time, we will do this together with our Brisbane colleagues La Boite, sharing resources, time, Artistic Directors and the challenge of developing careers.”
QTC’s National Artistic Team includes the following practitioners:
- Jimi Bani– Torres Strait Islander performer and writer living in far North Queensland and working around the country and the world. Won acclaim for his performance asEddie Mabo in the famous ABC TV series, and this year will perform at Belvoir in Sydney and the Barbican in London.
- Wayne Blair– actor, director and writer of stage and screen originally from Rockhampton. Director of the smash hit feature film The Sapphires and Redfern Now.
- Margi Brown Ash– Brisbane theatremaker and educator with a special interest in Artist Pathways. She has nurtured countless generations of Queensland artists and arts workers.
- Marcel Dorney– Brisbane writer, director and dramaturg now living in Melbourne and a previous winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award. Creator of award-winning work around the country with Elbow Room.
- Christie Evangelisto– former Literary Director at Signature Theatre in New York and director of Musical Theatre/Resident Dramaturg at Playwright’s Horizons. A world class dramaturg now living in Sydney.
- Kat Henry –one of Australia’s next generation directors and the former resident director at MKA New Writing Theatre in Melbourne and Alumni of MTC Women Director’s program.
- Nakkiah Lui– writer, performer and cultural commentator, Nakkiah penned Kill the Messenger and This Heaven at Belvoir. Also writer and performer for ABC’s Black Comedy.
- Annette Madden– curator, programmer and producer, former director of BSharp at Belvoir and executive producer of the Perth International Arts Festival.
- Renée Mulder– one of the country’s leading theatre designers, and former resident designer at STC, returning to her hometown Brisbane.
- Lucas Stibbard– 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.