Meet the Team: Caligula

In July, Burning House was slated to premiere their high-octane adaptation of Albert Camus’ “Caligula” at Theatre Works in what was going to be a massive spectacle – a glorious cross between ‘American Psycho’ and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ with blood and glitter. “Caligula” was postponed due to the impact of COVID-19, but we are incredibly excited to present this dazzling work with Burning House in the future here in St Kilda.
Pre-lockdown, the Burning House team was assembling a massive cast and envisioning a total transformation of the Theatre Works space. This week, as part of their Social Media Spotlight, we’ll be getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what’s to come when we can finally experience “Caligula” in our theatre.

Robert Johnson

Director, Co-Producer

Robert is a founding member and Artistic Director of Burning House, for which he has directed The Tragedy of Coriolanus, Ajax, Summerfolk and Titus Andronicus. Other directing highlights include When Nietzsche Wept, The Woman In Black, Closer, Ten Plagues (Loose Canon Theatre Company), Medea, Herakles (Acting Performance Studio), Echoes of Villers-Bretonneuz (Melbourne Fringe / Edinburgh Fringe), The Doll Hospital (MKA: Theatre of New Writing), The Lovers (Victorian College of the Arts), Sunday in the Park With George (UMMTA), The Threepenny Opera (MUST), Jesus Christ Superstar (MPAG) and Winterreise (Post-Opera Company).

As an assistant director and on secondment Robert has worked with both Melbourne Theatre Company and Opera Australia on repeat occasions, as well as Belvoir St Theatre, Bell Shakespeare Company, Watch This, Lyric Opera Melbourne, Lemony S Puppet Theatre, Komishe Oper, Chamber Made and MKA: Theatre of New Writing. In 2015 he was Artist in Residence for independent outfit Post-Opera Company, and in 2016 served as MKA: Theatre of New Writing’s Artistic Associate (Directing / Literary). Robert’s practice covers new adaptions of classic texts, new writing and contemporary opera, with a focus on themes of violence, legacy, cultural conflict, the concept of the individual and the idea of transcendence. He has a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Honours) from Monash University and a Masters of Directing for Performance from the Victorian College of the Arts.


Jessica Doutch


Jessica Doutch is a Melbourne based Producer and Arts Manager. She has a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Monash University and a Master of Arts and Cultural Management from the University of Melbourne. She was the general manager of Loose Canon Theatre Company from 2012-2014, and co-founded Burning House in 2016. Jessica has worked for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Entertainment Store, and the Monash Academy of Performing Arts. She has also been involved in productions with Life Like Company, Stage Art and Watch This. She currently works as a Production Coordinator.



Paul Armstrong

Performer – Cherea

Alongside many other things, 2020 reminds us to expect only the unexpected. It requires us to adapt and experiment – arguably, something artists prepare for all of their lives.

For me, it’s meant shifting focus to my writing and storytelling – developing scripts for an animator in NSW, working with a classical violinist on ways to support corporate story-telling, and developing podcast-style audio experiences for scientists across Australia.”

After more than 25 years in Sydney, Paul moved to Melbourne in 2018. Caligula will be his first Melbourne show. And, he is more than excited!

Paul is represented by Victoria Jackson Management.


Karlis Zaid

Performer – Helicon

Karlis is a graduate of The Victorian College of the Arts School of Drama, and works in all mediums of the industry.

Throughout 2020-21, he was very fortunate to tour South Korea in the 40th Anniversary production of Cats, as Gus the Theatre Cat, whilst most of the world’s theatres were dark. He performed the title role in Shakespeare’s Richard II, in a global virtual presentation for the International Actors’ Ensemble, and alternated as both title roles in Mozart & Salieri in a new translation of the Alexander Pushkin play, for Circle In The Sand. Karlis features in the film Lone Wolf (Screen Australia/MIFF), starring Hugo Weaving, which premièred at the 2020 Melbourne International Film Festival.

Other credits include : My Fair Lady (60th Anniversary tour – Opera Australia/Gordon/Frost) directed by Dame Julie Andrews,
War Horse (National Theatre of Great Britain), Les Misérables (10th Anniversary Tour – Asia/South Africa/Australia,
Cameron Mackintosh), Jesus Christ Superstar (Harry M Miller), The Drowsy Chaperone, Scrimshander
(Melbourne Theatre Company), Macbeth (Shakespeare In The Vines – Australian/New Zealand tour), Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (ABC TV), Picnic At Hanging Rock (Foxtel), Preacher (Stan/AMC), White Collar Blue (Nine Network), Stingers (Seven Network),
and his own original dark cabaret Australian Gothic (2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival)



Performer – Scipio

Jake is an actor, writer, singer, and performance artist. He has a Bachelor of Creative Arts from La Trobe University, and in 2016 graduated from the Howard Fine Acting Studio, where he continues his training.

He is best known for his work in Melbourne’s independent theatre scene. Recent credits include The Boy I Paid For with Writer’s Block Theatre, writer and solo performer of The Gargoyle, an international tour of The Comedy of Errors with the Australian Shakespeare Company, and Burning House’s production of Titus Andronicus. Throughout 2021, he will be touring the solo play The Shy Manifesto around Australia.


Claire Healy


Claire Healy is a composer, performer and musical director with a BA in Music Theatre (Ballarat Arts Academy) and a Master of Music in Interactive Composition (VCA). Recently she was musical director of the Australian production of the musical Six which opened at the Sydney Opera House in January 2020.

She composed music for the Irish tour of Low Level Panic, directed by Justin Martin (The Crown, The Inheritance) before its reworking in Sydney. Other compositional work includes: Lightning Jar Theatre’s Stupid F*cking Bird and Venus in Fur, The Tosca Project (Australia Council), Titus Andronicus (Burning House), and The Caucasian Chalk Circle, directed by Michael Kantor (VCA).

She has completed international tours of her cabarets, with sold-out shows in Edinburgh, Adelaide and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Claire also appeared alongside Miriam Margolyes in The Lady in the Van with MTC, and toured with Frantic Theatre Co. in the UK.


Lauren Bennett

Assistant Director

Lauren Bennett is a Melbourne-based emerging director and producer. Raised in several different countries as a third-culture kid, she is interested in new and immersive works that elevate untold stories, and promote cross-cultural collaboration.

This year, Lauren is attached to Theatre Works as an Associate Artist, during which she will be assistant directing Burning House’s 2021 production of Caligula, and assisting in programming and producing Theatre Works’ upcoming Fringe season.

Lauren is the Associate Producer for new Australian writing independent theatre company Lab Kelpie, where she is leading the development of projects within the company’s digital arm. In 2019, she assisted in producing the national tour of Katy Warner’s Spencer, and a creative development of Warner’s Refined, which she also assistant directed.

As a director, Lauren started at Union House Theatre under the mentorship of Petra Kalive, directing or assistant directing on several student productions in both Melbourne and London. She enjoyed appointments as Company Manager of Four Letter Word Theatre in 2019, for which she produced three new works including a devised work for Melbourne Fringe, and as Artistic Director of Ormond Drama in 2017.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics & Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne, and has trained at the Howard Fine Acting Studio


Isabella Strada

Stage Manager

Isabella has been fascinated by live performance ever since she realised she could make a career out of it. A graduate of Stage Management at The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts she has spent the last 4 years working in the UK. In her time in London Isabella had the great pleasure of being a Stage Manager at Café de Paris, the Stage Manager for the Park Theatre production of Sir Ian McKellen with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You, as well as the General/Technical Manager at The Playground Theatre.


Skip to content