Backstage

Meet the Team: We’re Probably Really Really Happy Right Now

“Making work during this time has been more than making art, it’s been an act of survival.”
Originally scheduled for a two week season from the 3 – 13 June 2020, We’re Probably Really Really Happy Right Now was set to be an explosive and frenetic highlight of TW’s 40th season. However, due to the impacts of COVID-19, the Public Service Announcement team was forced online for development before rehearsals had began in earnest.
 
Below, meet the We’re Probably Really Really Happy Right Now cast and creatives and get an insight into developing theatre online during this strange time in human history.

Photography credit: Lachlan Woods
Ellen Grimshaw

Writer / Performer / Producer

“The experience of doing an online development meant I could explore technology in a way I never would have if making in person. We explored so much, including genre, tropes and physicality based on influencers who physically or vocally behaved in a way that represented the themes of the play. It was so exciting to watch everyones’ when they brought their videos back to the group! These guys are made of sparkly things! Having this development through this time has meant a lot, just to stay connected with other artists.”

Ellen Grimshaw is a Melbourne based comedic-feminist writer and performer who creates experimental theatre that challenges the norm in all senses of the word. From her own personal experiences she explores intolerable social injustices and discrimination, ripping apart gender archetypes through explosive satire and celebrating queerness, cultural diversity, and confidence unapologetically. Ellen has been awarded for her performance in feature film ‘Bad Behaviour’, and has appeared in dozens of independent theatre productions in Brisbane and Melbourne since graduating from QUT ‘Fine Arts Acting’ in 2009. Ellen most recently appeared in ‘Just Us Girls… What’s A Girl?’ in 2019, which she also wrote and produced; and season 2 of series ‘Bloom’, on Stan. Ellen was awarded a performing arts grant from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust to work with The Wooster Group theatre, playwright Sibyl Kempson, and Elevator Repair Service theatre in New York City in 2019. Ellen graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2018 with a Master in Writing for Performance, where she also wrote ‘We’re Probably Really Really Happy Right Now’.


SARAH VICKERY

Director

“The magnitude of resilience that came out of this online development by these artists has been aspirational. It has been such a privilege to still have had the capacity and resources to find new ways to make work in isolation from one another. Though it was a great challenge, it only shone light on the strength, creativity and capacity of the artists that I have had the pleasure to create with during this development period. It has been a testament to the surviving spirit of the artist. Making work during this time has been more than making art, it’s been an act of survival.”

Sarah is a lesbian-feminist killjoy based in Melbourne Australia. She is Artistic Director and founder of newly formed radical-queer activ(ism) theatre collective, Public Service Announcement (PSA). She is on the AccompLez Board for Ballez, a lesbian, transgender and non-binary ballet dance company based in NYC. She is also an associate artist with Alyson Campbell and Lachlan Philpott’s company wreckedAllprods.

Sarah recently completed her Masters in Directing for Performance degree at The Faculty of Fine Arts and Music (The VCA) – University of Melbourne, where she directed her graduating work of Lillian Hellman’s ‘The Children’s Hour'(2018) under the mentorship of Sarah Goodes. She also studied Directing at NIDA (studio) taught by Imara Savage and completed an advance playwriting course at Griffin Theatre company taught by Hilary Bell.

Her recent credits include PlayList (dir. Red Stitch, Trades Hall, 2019) Sarah is an associate artist with wreckedAllprods most recently at Red Stitch as Alyson Campbell’s assistant director on Lachlan Philpott’s play Colder (2018). Her other credits include Just Us Girls – What’s a Girl (co-dir. Melbourne Fringe, 2019) Unexploded Ordnance: UXO (2017/18, intern, assistant director/collaborator, Split Britches, (dir. Lois Weaver, LaMama ETC, UK Tour: The Barbican Centre, London; Take Me Somewhere Festival, Glasgow) And Then the Snow Fell on Egypt ( dir. Melbourne Fringe Festival, 2017)

Sarah is continuously committed to her craft as a director, placing herself in environments that challenge her thinking and develop her methodology and practice. She is passionate about queer work, and bringing visibility to minority voices. more of Sarah’s work can be seen at her website sarahvickery.com.au


Kassandra Tilley

Assistant Director

Kassandra is a Melbourne based director and creative. She graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2017 and is currently studying her Masters of Directing at the Victorian College of the Arts. She has a background in dance and performance and has been involved in the performing arts for more than 18 years. Her recent credits include Genesis (Butterfly Club, 2020) Kup Mari (VCA, 2019) FEED (Ringtail Theatre, 2018) and Shakespeare????? (MUSC, 2017). Her research concerns the the body and how its wisdom can be used in theatremaking. She brings a queer, feminist lens to her work, and is interested in non-hierarchical practice. When she has free time, she enjoys reading poetry and writing fiction. She is the proud mother of two cats.


KAITE HEAD

Stage Manager / Producer

“The way this development came about was definitely unconventional, no one really saw covid coming. However I was grateful everyday that this show provided a creative outlet during what at the time felt like the longest months of my life.”

Kaite is a Melbourne-based queer creator. She has been trained in stage management at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). Since entering the industry, she has branched out into a variety of roles such as producing and social media management.

While at university she contributed to productions as an Assistant Stage Manager on ‘Dance On’ (2017), ‘Henry V’ (2017, dir. Leith McPherson) and Deputy Stage Managed ‘On The Town’ (2019, dir. Adam Mitchell).

She is inspired by the phenomenal female creatives that surround her, having worked professionally on shows such as; ‘Solas’ (2018) dir. Lynda Fleming and ‘Land’ (2020) dir. Ruby Rees. In addition, her passion and dedication earned her a production internship on the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Her spare time mainly consists of working in retail – not by choice, but because she needs to pay her bills.


Jo Dunbar

Accessibility Consultant

Jo Dunbar is a choreographer, director and facilitator, with 20 years experience in the professional arts industry. Originally from the UK, She has worked and trained across multi art platforms with various arts companies in the UK, Europe and now, Australia, where she has been resident for the past 9 years. Since living in Melbourne she has founded Australia’s first dance company for deaf and hearing performers, The Delta Project, performed with renowned arts companies Strange Fruit and Restless Dance theatre, taught dance and physical theatre workshops to companies both regionally and nationally. Born profoundly deaf and bi-lingual in both English and Auslan she is passionate about all things diverse, experimental and inclusive.


Gabriel Bethune

Lighting Designer

“Working on this show has been one of the constant goals in the distance during these incredibly hard times. It’s good to be able to pop up to see cast and creatives all still working to prove that the arts aren’t dead yet, just momentarily discombobulated and needs a hand.”
Gabriel Bethune is a Melbourne based Lighting Designer, Sound Designer and Composer. Graduating at the Victorian College of the Arts Production course in 2019 where he was the Lighting Designer for DFLTLX (dir. Alison Campbell), A View from the Bridge (dir. John Kachoyan), and the Sound Designer for Swim Between the Flags (Devised Piece.) His work ranges from small venue Fringe shows (The Gargoyle per. Jake Matricardi) to ensemble theatre pieces (DNA dir. Meg Dunn), and learned from professional designers such as John Ford and Daniel Nixon. Outside of the theatre, Gabriel enjoys long walks with his dog Yeti who doesn’t know what a theatre is.

El Schmiedte

Costume Designer

El Schmiedte is an artist, designer and maker based in Melbourne, Australia. Their artistic practice is varied and includes costume design for dance and musical theatre, costume making, puppetry, creature creation, and fine art, all with a strong focus on sustainability and personal expression. They spent much of 2019 working for the Tony Award-winning Creature Technology Company, and recently held their first solo fine art exhibition, Fuck This, which explored questions of identity and mental illness through mixed media, sculpture and collage. Their artistic style can best be described as ‘feral’.

 


Justin Gardam

Sound Designer / Dramaturg

Justin Gardam is a Green Room Award winning designer specialising in sound and video for theatre. He is a graduate of Monash University’s Bachelor of Performing Arts and completed a Master of Dramaturgy at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

Sound design credits include Control, Wakey Wakey and Lamb (Red Stitch); The Market is a Wind-Up Toy, The Nose, and Paradise Lost (The Bloomshed); RUST (TBC Theatre); Just Us Girls (Ellen Grimshaw); Private Peaceful (Moving Light Productions); The Mission (Geelong Arts Centre); Slaughterhouse Five (Theatre Works/MUST); Q (La Mama); and Ironbound (Q44 Theatre). As associate: Suddenly Last Summer, desert 6:29pm and The Moors (Red Stitch); Merciless Gods (Arts Centre Melbourne/Little Ones Theatre); Abigail’s Party (MTC) and The Lonely Wolf (MTC NEON).

Video design highlights include Sunday in the Park with George (Watch This); New Balance and Sneakyville (Before Shot); and Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Underscore).


Josephine Wagstaff

Set Designer

“We’re Probably Really Really Happy Right Now is a phenomenally rich and diverse creative project. It is a designers dream. There are no limitations for what will be presented on stage in support of the content delivered by our cast. To be surprised and astounded by the work as it develops alongside a brilliant creative team has been an exceptionally rewarding process of this design.

Josephine is a Melbourne based production designer with a breadth of experience in both film and stage projects. Josephine is a qualified structural engineer with a Masters of Architecture and a Graduate Diploma of Sustainable Design. Josephine’s commitment to design is driven by an intuitive creative process that is founded in rich technical knowledge of building and making.

Josephine’s work has won awards at the Australian Production Design Guild Awards and been nominated on several other occasions. She has worked on projects funded by Screen Australia and the ABC and has been involved with projects that have been recognised and screened at national and international film festivals.


HENRY KELLY

Performer – Mysterious Teddy

“This development has pushed me into a whole new direction as a maker and collaborator. My process has always depended heavily on tangibility, whether that’s a space, another person, or an object. During this process I’ve been isolating with family in Tasmania, which has challenged me to discover new ways of making, connecting with my ensemble, and using technology to elevate my creativity.”

Henry is an actor and theatre maker, originally from Southern Tasmania. Henry graduated from The Victorian College of the Arts in 2019, as part of the inaugural class of the BFA Theatre program. Recently, he travelled to Taipei to work intensively with choreographers Trajal Harrell (USA), and Brennan Gerard and Ryan Kelly (USA), as part of ‘Camping Asia’, an international workshop series. In 2019, he was a creative development participant in On Sledge and Horseback (dir. Susie Dee) and was commissioned by the University of Melbourne to create A Walk Through Time (International Women’s Day). Henry has worked closely with emerging performance ensemble Company 19, a company dedicated to devising new work in a non-hierarchical format. Henry is passionate about making his work accessible to regional communities, with his work being closely tied to his queer, transgender identity.

Whilst at VCA, he was awarded the Cassidy Bequest Scholarship for Theatre (2018). He is also a graduate of full-time Music Theatre course ‘Showfit’.

 


Romaine Mcsweeney

Performer – Dolly Fire

Romaine McSweeney is an Australian actress, born and raised in Melbourne. She is trained in physical movement and dance, with much of her background sitting in contemporary, jazz and hip hop genres. Her tutelage at Melbourne’s Ministry of Dance was also accompanied by a strong athletic training. McSweeney began training musically at a young age in contemporary voice and piano alongside electric bass, guitar, and violin. McSweeney’s true passion is film and TV and she has been featured in numerous short films and music videos. Her most recent credits include a feature film set to premiere in 2020 directed by Francisco Seguin and the short film “Coming of Age” created by Collin Budds. McSweeney underwent full time training at the Victorian College of the Arts graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting at the end of 2019. During her time there she worked with and learned under several notable directors. Some of her featured roles included productions of: Mad Forest (Dir. Sean Mee), Fucking A (dir. Candy Bowers), August: Osage County (dir. Leith McPherson) and Macbeth (dir. Michael Kantor).


ALEXANDER THEW

Performer – Smelly Cloudburst

“Working on this project has been an incredible learning experience and a crucial component of what has gotten me through these months of isolation. I’ve learnt just how much performance can persist through any barrier also I will never underestimate the power of being able to feel another person’s rhythm in order to deliver a line successfully.”

Graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2016, Alex Thew is a Melbourne based Actor and Artist. Alex’s recent theatre credits include Truly Madly Britney (Theatreworks); Two sellout seasons of Lou Wall’s Drag Race (Melbourne Fringe/The Griffin Theatre); Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (VCA) and HOLT! Who goes there? (Melbourne Fringe). In 2018 they were nominated for Best Performance and won Best Emerging Artist (Melbourne Fringe). Alex also performs drag under the name Copper Feel and has performed at venues such as the Tote, The Lansdowne, The Malthouse and Yah Yahs.


Yuchen Wang

Performer – Manager Fella Dude

“I believe this development has been special for everyone involved, theatre making across the globe has been special for artists. This, for me, has been both the most limiting and liberating creative process I have had so far. Combining the social media with imagination and provocations. Magic.”

Yuchen completed a Bachelor Degree of Theatre Practice at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2015. Some of his credits include 4:48 Psychosis directed by Justin Nott, Cloudstreet directed by Julian Fuentes Reta and The Human Project for the Frisk at 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival and the 2016 Adelaide Fringe Festival. In 2016, he performed in Malthouse’s Approximate Translation directed by Felix Ching Ching Ho. In 2017, Yuchen performed in the leading role of Malthouse’s Little Emperors, written by Lachlan Philpott and directed by Wang Chong. In 2018, he performed in Little Ones Theatre’s Nightingale and The Rose. In 2019, Yuchen played the Translator in Golden Shield (MTC). He also appeared in the mini series Chosen, produced by Playmaker/Sony and directed by Tony Tilse, Hungry Ghosts (SBS), web series Girl, Interpreted by Grace Feng.


Esther Randles

Performer – Poppy

Raised in Sydney, Esther is an actor and theatre maker based in Melbourne, Australia. Stage credits include Violet Weston in August: Osage County (dir. Leith McPherson), Tiresias/Agave in Theban Dolls (dir. Saro Lusty-Cavallari), Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel in Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights (dir. Alyson Campbell), the Duke of Ephesus in Comedy of Errors (dir. Tony Smith), Portia/Calpurnia in ItWasGreekToMe (dir. Budi Miller) and Blueberry Girl in ATYP: Intersection (dir. Katrina Douglas). Screen credits include Sam in Fright Night (dir. Gracie Dephoff) and Lee in the 2019 webseries Harmony Sings. Esther holds a BFA in Acting from the Victorian College of the Arts, and is also a singer trained in blues, jazz and improvisation.


Anjelica Angwin

Performer – Slinky Sugartits

“This development period has enabled me to tap into performative and universal truths sparked by COVID-19. Engaging in online rehearsals required resilience, faith and perseverance through the often temperamental nature of technology. I grew as an actor and as a person, enduring this difficult time and helped via the generosity of my cast and crew.”

Anjelica Angwin is a 16th Street Actors Studio and Stella Adler Studios, New York, graduate. She has trained extensively with masterclass teachers and performed across theatre, film and television. She has performed with Human Sacrifice Theatre at 45 Downstairs, ROARE productions at Melbourne Fringe Festival, and the Victorian College of Arts in a performance of ‘The Children’s Hour’ by Lillian Hellman directed by Sarah Vickery. Her short film credits include ‘Perisher’ by Gabriel Hutchings and ‘The Back of my Head is the Same as Yours’ by Guy Tyzack. She also played Erin in Channel 7’s ‘Murder Uncovered’.

Skip to content