Writer / Performer / Devisor
“Our rehearsals had just begun when lockdown closed off the opportunity to rehearse together in person. Until that point we’ve had an incredible series of developments. Seeing images and text from the script materialise and transform, and feeling the energy of the work take on another life within the creative teams engagement with the material has been very exciting. We’ve had to delve into some quite emotionally dark and heavy material, but because our teams’ comedy and clowning experience, as well as the costume puppetry we have been able to contrast this with different emotional tones. We have also been exploring the multiplicity of identity through having multiple actors sharing the same role, it’s brought a whole other dimension to the work.”
Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman is a theatre maker with a background encompassing writing, performance, puppetry, animation, painting, design and installation. Her practice explores subversive absurdity, horror, the unseen, liminal spaces and magic realism. As a first generation Australian with Sri Lankan/Austrian cultural heritage, her work is concerned with place, multi-voiced narratives and complex and contested histories.
In 2019 she co-produced, co-wrote and directed ‘The Shorebird Quest’ a site specific theatre work in conjunction with Theatre Kimberley and Indigenous Rangers In WA. This September she will perform in ‘The Last Lighthouse-keeper’ for Black Hole Theatre. The Big Country Puppets, a collaborative theatre project that she is key theatre artist and coordinator for received $200,000 from the Indigenous Language and Arts Fund. In 2018 she completed a Master of Writing for Performance at the VCA. She co-created ‘Do You Know Me’, a site specific theatre work made with and about people experiencing homelessness for the Melbourne Fringe Festival, utilising projection, performance and puppetry. In 2017 she created ‘The Divination Agency’, that toured to the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Melbourne and Broome WA, and was supported by WA Creative Development Grant for a showing at the Studio Underground Theatre in Perth. In 2015 she co-devised and performed in ‘Ngalyak and the Flood’ at the International Puppetry Festival of Charleville-Meziers, France.
She has toured internationally with the Snuff Puppets, and performed and puppeteered with Lyric Opera, Museum Victoria and Melbourne independent theatre companies. Her film and animation work has received awards from The Heart of Gold International Film Festival, been broadcast on ABC Asia, NITV and SBS, screened at the Art Gallery of WA and SA, and commissioned by Screenwest. She works in theatre, film and visual arts with culturally and linguistically diverse artists with Arts Access Victoria, Arts Project Australia, RMIT University, Warmun Arts Centre, Mangkaja Arts.
“Working with this beautiful creative team has been a grounding reminder of how good the making process really can be. Bernadette has brought us all together, and it has been a great privilege to be sharing ideas and rehearsal rooms with this diverse group of artists. We all come from very different backgrounds when it comes to theatre-making, which means that we often have long and rich discussions, and different ways of making offers and problem solving. Perhaps the thing I am most excited for in Phantasmagoria is to see how our diverse strengths bring the project together, and inevitably make it the beautiful work that we all believe it to be.”
Performer / Devisor
“The work we are doing on Phantasmagoria is unlike anything I’ve done before. There are so many art forms coming together across different mediums. It’s crazy how much work has gone into this already and we have so long now because of this virus. All the more time to experiment though. I’m very excited to be collaborating with such talented people. The work is in very capable hands and I’m excited to bring it to life with an audience.”
Performer / Devisor
“Being in isolation over the weeks we would have been on the Theatre Works stage has been difficult, as I’ve passed the time reading and watching my favourite performers behind a screen while I can’t do it on a stage. I am of course not alone in this feeling, and feel for everyone whose lives have been changed by this pandemic – I am in a fortunate position of being safe, sheltered and healthy. The project itself seems far away but still excites me greatly. We really only just got to start initial rehearsals, but from what we explored in those sessions I know that this show will be truly fantastic in a year. I was keen to learn the intricacies of shadow puppetry (and I arguably now have more time to REALLY master it). I miss the team because it’s a truly remarkable group of people who are all incredibly skilled in their chosen fields. I think this time has given us all the capacity to reflect, and means we will all come back to rehearsals with a new gratitude for being artists and getting to do what we love.”
Myfanwy is an actor and theatre maker seeking to engage with new and diverse work. She is currently in a production of Dennis Kelly’s ‘DNA’ at Chapel off Chapel with Breath and Bones Theatre Co, a new theatre company of which she is one of the founders. Her recent credits at the Victorian College of the Arts include Mephistopheles in DFLTLX (dir. Alyson Campbell), Catherine in A View From the Bridge (dir. John Kachoyan), Malcolm/Murderer in Macbeth (dir. Michael Kantor), Patient/Waiter in Mad Forest (dir. Sean Mee) and Eliza in Jasper Jones (dir. Jennifer Innes). She also played the title role of Dionysus in the new rock opera meets Greek tragedy, Theban Dolls (dir. Saro Lusy-Cavallari). She has starred in numerous short films and web-series. Myfanwy is a budding writer and director, debuting her co-written collaboration F*CKED at last year’s Discord879 Festival which she hopes to bring back again later this year. Myfanwy is also an avid drummer and singer, and loves to bring these skills to her acting work whenever possible.
Performer / Devisor
“I’ve known Bernadette for a long time and always admired her work for her sensitivity in integrating beautiful compelling design, puppetry and storytelling. I’m thrilled to work with her on bringing all of these elements to Phantasmagoria, and working with such a powerhouse team.”
Dan Goronszy is a multi-disciplinary artist, deviser and performer drawing on interactive installation, puppetry, design and physical theatre. She is a long time core member and international touring artist with Melbourne’s Polyglot Theatre. Dan’s performative installations include The Care Taker investigating intimacy between strangers Arts Centre Melbourne (2018) Hobsons Bay Art In Public Space Festival (2017), and in Nilumbik Shire Public Arts Residency (2017); Bedsheet Ghost Party The Lost Lands Festival (2018) Abbotsford Convent (2016); The Launching Board, Fawkner. Performance highlights include:Giant puppet work The Waterhole: Galapagos Islands, after Graeme Base for Melbourne Zoo’s Neon Playground (2019); Maybe_Togethers’s Future Postal Service, Commonwealth Games Festival (2018), RAV tour (2016), Perth International Festival (2015) Federation Square (2015) and Arts Centre Melbourne (2015); Genetic Circus’ bilingual puppet drama In The Name Of Peace set in Timor Leste, Melbourne Revolt (2014); Senseworks’ Food Security Training Alice Desert Festival (2014); The CollaborAgents, co-created with Jodee Mundy, My Strange Pet puppet series for ABC3 (2009). In 2018 she obtained a Master’s degree Art in Public Space at RMIT.
Lighting & AV Designer
“It’s truly a privilege to be helping bring the beautiful and illusory dreamscape of Bernadette’s Phantasmagoria to life. While in past I’ve worked mostly with experimental projection for theatre in site-specific settings, early development for Phantasmagoria has combined new and challenging elements. As a team, we’ve been dabbling with handmade shadow puppetry, live-feed camera, and vintage overhead projection layered with animated projection. With a cinematic eye, the performers are haunted by their shadow doubles and animated memories as each image slips mercurially into the next. I’m itching to get started once again and hope to be back in the rehearsal room soon with this team of wonderfully thoughtful and curious creatives.”
“Working on Phantasmagoria has been a true experience of creative collaboration. Bernadette is such a generous and open generating artist; the process of building the work has been one where every person on the team has been invited to contribute and to feel an equal part in making the work. For me – as dramaturg and a writer by trade – this collaboration is particularly thrilling because of how it blends incredible writing with other story telling elements that are just as potent: the visual design, animation, puppetry and the remarkable work of the actors. I am so excited to see all the elements come together. The tone of the piece is unlike anything I’ve worked on or seen, blending an eerie magic realism with moments of absurdity, laugh out loud comedy and finely observed pathos. I can’t wait to sit in the dark and be immersed in this extraordinary world.”
Emilie Collyer writes plays, fiction, essays and poetry. Her work often asks difficult questions about humanity via the existential, the impossible or the fantastical. Theatre awards and shortlistings of note include: Contest (winner Green Room award for lighting design), Dream Home (shortlisted Edward Albee Scholarship and Patrick White Award, seven Green Room nominations, winner direction and sound design), The Good Girl (Winner Best Writer Melbourne Fringe & Green Room nomination writing), Promise (Winner George Fairfax Award, Highly Commended Patrick White Award), Argonauta (Winner Young Playwright’s Award). She has been commissioned by Malthouse, Arena, ABC Radio, Punctum, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Writers Festival and St Martins, been a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow and a City of Literature Parliament Representative. Emilie received the Malcolm Robertson Prize (Malthouse) for her play Contest and was selected for the inaugural MTC Women in Theatre Program. The Good Girl has played in New York, Hollywood and Florida, Once Were Pirates at Edinburgh and Adelaide Fringe. Emilie is both a Red Stitch INK writer and a Playwriting Australia Duologue recipient. Her prose and poetry has won numerous awards including three Scarlet Stiletto crime writing category awards. Publication credits include: The Lifted Brow, Aurealis, Dimension6, Overland, Cordite, Kill Your Darlings and The Big Issue, and two fiction collections with Clan Destine Press. Emilie works as a dramaturg and mentor, most recently as Industry Mentor at Deakin University and University of Melbourne’s Union House Theatre’s Co-writer in Residence. She served on the Green Room Independent Theatre panel for four years (two as co-chair) and has judged the VPLA drama award. Emilie is a graduate of Professional Writing and Editing RMIT and Masters in Writing for Performance VCA, University of Melbourne. She is a founding member of Punctum Inc. and New Working Group.
Theatre Works Associate Artist
“I’m thrilled to be undertaking my Theatre Works secondment with Wielding Theatre and this incredible team of creatives on such a vividly original work. I was galvanised by the inimitable world of this play, it’s rich visceral tapestry and achingly potent themes. The beauty and scope of Bernadette’s story is truly riveting and I can’t wait to see it fully manifested on stage in 2021.”
Amy May Nunn is an English-Australian poet, playwright and director. She has been published in Voiceworks, Verandah, Island, Windmills, Metre Maids and Award-Winning Australian Writing. She is a two-time recipient of the Mathew Rocca Award for poetry, winner of the Express Media Award for poetry and the John Marsden Prize.
Amy has directed for the Dog Theatre, the Southwark Playhouse in London and assisted at the Theatre Royal Bath. She is the co-founder of ‘Dirty Pennies Theatre Project’, a company committed to nurturing new female voices. She completed the full-time programme at 16th St Actors Studio and recently completed a Masters in Writing for Performance at VCA. She is a 2020 Associate Artist at Melbourne’s Theatre Works and has been selected to participate in the 2020 ASSITEJ Next Generation program in Pakistan.