Backstage

Meet the Team: Phantasmagoria

Pulling together a team of performers, devisors and creatives from a cross a vast range of theatre and art backgrounds, Phantasmagoria was slated to be an experience unlike anything audiences had ever seen before during its original scheduled run from 6 – 16 May.
 
We can’t wait to present Phantasmagoria in its final form in the near future, but for now we’re turning the spotlight on the creation of this work and the amazing talent bringing it to life.
 
For today’s Meet the Team Monday, the Phantasmagoria artists have each reflected on the process so far.

BERNADETTE TRENCH-THIEDEMAN

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.


MILLY COOPER

Director

“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.”

Milly Cooper is a Melbourne-based theatre director and practitioner with a background in physical and text-based theatre, music and dance. She is currently doing her Masters of Directing for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts. Prior to this she was engaged in an Honours degree at Monash University that investigated inclusive theatre-making methodologies and devising processes with disabled and non-disabled artists, titled ‘Inside’. ‘Inside’ was also presented at the 2017 Access Arts Undercover Artist Festival in Brisbane, alongside an inclusive theatre-making workshop led by Milly.
 
She is Artistic Director of Wielding Theatre, a Melbourne-based company with a collaborative focus on creating devised physical pieces and working on new writing. Wielding means to ‘have and be able to use power or influence’ and the company firmly believes in the capacity for theatre to enact social change. Wielding Theatre promotes inclusive practice in their methodology, particularly when working with disabled and non-disabled creatives, but extends the same philosophies to all projects under the banner of the company. To expand the company’s knowledge of inclusive methodologies, Milly has participated in workshops and internships with Back to Back, Rawcus and Weave Movement Theatre regularly over the last four years.
 
Under Wielding Theatre Milly has directed ‘Gravity Guts’ (2019), co-directed ‘FREEFALL’ (2018) alongside Bullet Heart Club, directed ‘PC Couture’ (2017), ‘Inside’ (2017) and ‘FACESWAP: A Love Story in 87 Haikus’ (2016). She has independently directed ‘Climamania (2015), ‘Sir. Co’ (2015), ‘SPAMALOT’ (2014), ‘The Popular Mechanicals’ (2014), and ‘ANU Arts Revue’ (2013). And has assistant directed ‘The Children of War’ (2019), ‘Where in the World is Frank Sparrow’ (2014), ‘Worst Band in the Universe’ (2014).

INDEY SALVESTRO

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.”

Born and raised in Wagga Wagga, Indey is an actor and musician now based in Melbourne. A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, his acting credits include: Macbeth in Macbeth (dir. Michael Kantor), Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchid (dir. Sapidah Kian), Steve in August: Osage County (dir. Leith McPherson), Butcher in F***ing A (dir. Candy Bowers), Radu in Mad Forest (dir. Sean Mee), Pentheus in Theban Dolls (dir. Saro Lusty-Cavallari). He also voiced the character of Tim Bones in the VCA Web-series Harmony Sings. Indey recently played Brutus in a multimedia adaptation of Julius Caesar entitled It Was Greek To Me (dir. Budi Miller) as part of Melbourne University’s Hackathon, and just finished a short film project with Colin Budds.
 
A multi-instrumentalist, Indey writes music, and is a member of the touring heavy act Windwaker.

MYFANWY HOCKING

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.


DAN GORONSZY

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.


SHARYN BRAND

Sound Designer

Sharyn Brand is an installation artist and collaborator working with a focus of sound based urban ethnography, and unconventional sound environments. Her practice explores navigating the complexity of the world by uncovering the hidden and forgotten. Sharyn recently returned from Te Kōkī, New Zeland School of Music Victoria University, Wellington after receiving a Graduate Diploma of Music in Sonic Art.
Sharyn presented interdisciplinary work Movement Extract (2019) that places the viewer inside data content through sensor responsive coding, at Te Pātaka Toi, Adam Art Gallery Wellington NZ. She was collaborator on Making Space’s Colour Labyrinth an immersive ever-changing labyrinth investigating colour, light and sound, Commission by ArtPlay New Ideas Lab (2018), Be Bold Festival, Bowery Theatre (2019).
Sharyn’s headphone soundwalk Reflection (2017) premiered at Phantasmagoria, Bogong Sound Village Festival documenting personal histories of building the Snowy Hydro. She was sound artist in collaboration with Maybe_Together’s Small Voices Louder Perth International Festival (2017) and WA Regional tour (2017); and Renae Shadler & Collaborators Can You See What We See? Junction Arts Festival (2016).
Community Arts Projects include Songs of Diversity (2017) with LGBTIQ+ seniors in partnership with The Village Festival and Vic Seniors Week; The Launching Board (2015) Fawkner; I Am Moreland (2014) Supported by City of Moreland Project Grants, and Radio Shack (2014) The Village Festival and Kids Arty Farty.
With Dan Goronszy she renovated The Grand Caravan (2015) a portable purpose-built sound installation and arts venue inside a Millard Caravan. Together they have created 8 works, including Blood. Sex. Tears. which sees 30 second crowd-sourced sound bites edited into a multi-channel soundscape, Women Of the World (2017), Geelong After Dark (2016), Midsumma Festival (2016); Gutzy! Placing power of knowledge in the hands of children, Darebin Kite Festival (2017) and Castlemaine Winter Festival (2016); Intimate puppet theatre Destination Home La Mama (2016).
Sharyn is a company member of Polyglot theatre touring both nationally and internationally since 2014. Whilst at Victoria University, Wellington she was tutor and guest lecturer for the 1st year Introduction to Recording and Production course. Sharyn served as production/stage manager for Aotearoa Audio Arts Festival (2018) as well as being a panelist.
 
Sharyn is also a professional DJ, stage manager and tour manager. Sharyn likes collecting records, baking sourdough and riding her bike.

CAITLIN OVERTON

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.”

Caitlin is an emerging theatremaker and lighting designer with a strong focus on regional-metropolitan collaboration, immersive technology and experimental projection. Based between Melbourne and rural NSW, Caitlin is currently studying towards a MA in Directing for Performance at the VCA, graduating in 2019. She graduated with a BA/LLB majoring in English Literature from the Australian National University in 2016. Caitlin has worked closely with communities to develop verbatim productions integrating projection in development and performance. Caitlin was a contributing artist collaborating with Falls Creek residents and the National Museum of Australia to experiment with projection mapping onto clouds (CAD Factory, 2019).
 
Other design credits include Belonging(s) with the Thamesmead Estate, London (Tilted Productions) and the Australian led Harmonic Oscillator Project (CAD Factory) in collaboration with Alder-Hey Hospital, Liverpool and in residency at the Tate Modern. Caitlin was a lighting technician with Assembly (George Square, Edinburgh Fringe), Amsterdam Fringe (Brakke Grond), GDIF (Greenwich Fair) and on traineeship at the Battersea Arts Centre, London. During her masters, Caitlin has undertaken directing and design secondments with Cardboard Citizens, London, and Theatre Conspiracy, Vancouver. Caitlin is currently trialling the use of two-way live-streaming in rehearsal and performance locating live-stream theatre as a new artefact – part theatre, part cinema – with an unprecedented capacity to connect rural-metropolitan makers.

EMILIE COLLYER

Dramaturg

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.


AMY NUNN

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.

 

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