Our People

  • Staff

    • Sally Farr

      General Manager

      Sally Farr

      General Manager

      An adventurous and light-hearted spirit follows Sally as she works behind the scenes to bring other people’s creative vision to life over the past 20 years. She has spent many years living and working in Melbourne, Germany, Adelaide and Alice Springs, where she set up Red Hot Arts Marketing. Sally has a knack for connecting with people to raise funds for not-for-profit icons, and fine-tuned these skills at Regional Arts Australia and Vision Australia. She knows how to market the charms of creative communities and has now put down roots in Melbourne’s balmy west. Sally holds a graduate diploma of Arts Management from the University of Melbourne (1999).

    • Dr Dave Kelman

      Artistic Director

      Dr Dave Kelman

      Artistic Director

      Dave Kelman has worked for the past thirty years as a director, writer, researcher and drama educator in Melbourne Australia and Leeds UK. As Artistic Director of Western Edge Youth Arts (2006 to present), he has directed widely acclaimed, community youth theatre work and an innovative artists-in-schools program. Major Community and Education Works: Recent stand out work for Western Edge includes: Fate (2013), a music/theatre performance for the Big West Festival and Black Face White Mask, which performed in a sell-out season at The Malthouse in 2012. Performer/Writer: He has toured nationally with his own award-winning Theatre-in-Education Company Dog Theatre (1996-99, Buckley’s Chance Drama Victoria – ‘Best School’s Show’ 1998) through Nexus Arts and pioneered hip-hop theatre in UK – Union City (1995) for the Yorkshire Dance Centre, and in Australia, Casino City (1996) for Footscray Community Arts Centre. Lecturer and Researcher: Kelman is currently a regular lecturer in arts education at the University of Melbourne. His research has been widely published in refereed books and journals and he was a keynote speaker at the 2010 International Drama and Theatre in Education Congress in Brazil. He was awarded a PhD in Drama Education at the University of Melbourne (2009).

    • Lily Fish

      Teaching Artist

      Lily Fish

      Teaching Artist

      Lily is a theatre maker, playwright, performer and physical theatre teacher.  She is a graduate of the National Theatre Drama School and the John Bolton Theatre School.  Lily is an associate artist with Born in a Taxi and a founding member of Po Po Mo Co.  She has been awarded residencies at HotHouse Theatre, Women’s Circus and the Australian Tapestry Workshop.  Her play ‘Yarn’ is published through Play Lab.

    • Georgia Symons

      Teaching Artist

      Georgia Symons

      Teaching Artist

      Georgia makes theatre and interactive experiences. Recent works for Western Edge include: Caliban (Malthouse, 2016)  Longing (Geelong Courthouse 2016); #CalibanSt (Big West Festival 2015); Iago (Malthouse, 2015), Shakespeare’s Trilogy (Geelong High School 2015).

      Her recent and upcoming independent works include How to Break Into Someone Else’s Universe (FCAC 2017); You Must Come Alone to Read the Last Book on Earth (Fringe/Library at the Dock 2016); Wash Your Hands (MUDFest 2015); and TurboDetective 3000 (National Young Writers Festival 2015). Georgia is the co-founder and co-director of theatre development initiative Small and Loud.

      She has worked as an arts educator with Western Edge Youth Arts, St Martins Youth Theatre, Platform Youth Theatre, and the University of Technology Sydney. In the past two years, she has received an Australia ArtStart grant, a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship, an Arena Theatre Inside 130 Residency, and a mentorship with Lonely Company. Georgia holds a Master’s of Writing for Performance from the VCA (2014).

    • Penny Harpham

      Teaching Artist

      Penny Harpham

      Teaching Artist

      Penny Harpham is the co-founder and co-Artistic Director of She Said Theatre. She studied at the University of Queensland (Journalism/ Drama), University of Melbourne (Post Grad in Arts and Cultural Management) and most recently she graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts (Post Grad in Performance Creation – Directing) where she was awarded the Barbara Manning Scholarship for Excellence and the Global Atelier Scholarship for Overseas Travel. In 2013 she won a Green Room Award for The Stream/ The Boat/ The Shore/ The Bridge (Next Wave Festival 2012) and in 2015 she was a recipient of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust Award which helped her complete a residency at the ZK/U in Berlin and undergo an internship with TheaterRampe in Stuttgart. Her directing credits include HART (winner of three Melbourne Fringe 2015 awards, nominated for a Green Room Award, and winner of Best Emerging Artist for Ian Michael at Adelaide Fringe 2016), Bock Kills Her Father (She Said Theatre/La Mama), Slut (VCA One Act Play Season), Laika and Wills, and Breaking (She Said Theatre for Melbourne Fringe).  As a performer Penny has worked with some of Australia’s leading arts organisations and independent theatre ensembles, including Elbow Room, Brisbane Powerhouse, Theatre Works, Motherboard Productions, Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble, and The Good Room. Penny has also worked extensively with children and young people as a Workshop Facilitator (La Boite Theatre Company, Footscray Community Arts Centre) and Teaching Artist (Western Edge Youth Arts).

    • Jane Rafe

      Teaching Artist

      Jane Rafe

      Teaching Artist

      Jane Rafe is a leading teaching-artist with an exceptional track record of acclaimed work with Western Edge Youth Arts, Footscray Community Arts Centre, the Victorian Arts Centre’s Education program and Nexus Arts. She received the Drama Victoria award for best touring theatre for schools show in 1999 for her own company, Dog Theatre’s Buckley’s Chance. Jane has run arts residencies across the state with Nexus Arts and directed community performances for the Mallacoota Festival and the High Tide Festival on the Surf Coast. Jane also works as a designer, working for Footscray Community Arts Centre (One Nation, 1999) and the Geelong Courthouse (Underworld, 2000) and numerous Western Edge performances. Jane has a Masters in Theatre from University of Leeds UK (1987).

       

    • Reuben Zalme

      Reuben Zalme

      Reuben has been performing for half his life. After obtaining his degrees in the performing arts, he traveled around Australia and overseas performing and continuing his studies. He is now passing on what he has learnt  to younger artists.

    • Kendra Keller

      Marketing Assistant

      Kendra Keller

      Marketing Assistant

      Kendra is an Arts Industry professional experienced in project design, resourcing, planning, administration, audience development and strategic relationship building for arts organisaitons.

      She has worked with Western Edge Youth Arts on a number of projects since 2015, and is currently in the office two days a week focusing on marketing and communications.

      She is also a poet and performance artist known as Lady Longdrop.

    • Siabh O’Mara

      Bookkeeper

      Siabh O’Mara

      Bookkeeper

      For the last five years Siabh O’Mara has run her own Bas Agency, ‘Raven Accounting Services’. She works mainly with small businesses and not for profits in the West, conducting much of her business in ‘the cloud’.

      Prior to this she spent 13 years in the music industry, working as Director of Operations for Roadrunner Records.

      She has a passion for connecting women in business, and manages ‘Women in Business – Melbourne’s West’, a networking platform of business owners with 950 members.

      Siabh also plays the flute and the saxophone badly, and has three children, three fish, one dogs and one husband.

  • Board

    • Dr. Angela O’Brien

      Chair

      Dr. Angela O’Brien

      Chair

      Dr Angela O’Brien is a barrister and mediator who works primarily with families and children. Prior to joining the Victorian Bar, she was Associate Professor and Head of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne / Victorian College of the Arts. In addition to her teaching and management experience, Dr O’Brien has an extensive research and publication record in drama and theatre, including theatre history, drama education, theatre for young people and the use of the arts as a developmental and diversionary measure for young people at risk.

    • Jock Jeffries

      Treasurer

      Jock Jeffries

      Treasurer

      Jock Jefferies was appointed treasurer on 12 December 2016
      Jock is an experienced Managing Director, CEO, CFO and CIO, who has for over 40 years managed growth and transformation in privately held small to medium sized enterprises.

      He is a member of CPA Australia, holds an MBA from Deakin University and has a passion for text based theatre.

    • Rani Pramesti

      Rani Pramesti

      Rani Pramesti is a Chinese-Indonesian actor, theatre maker and intercultural producer working between Melbourne, Australia and Jakarta, Indonesia.

      She is passionate about producing and making work that spearheads the way in cross-racial casting and cross-cultural performance making between Indonesia and Australia. In 2014, her installation-based performance, Chinese Whispers, won the Melbourne Fringe Award for Best Live Art and Kultour’s Innovation in Culturally Diverse Practice Award.

      Rani has played Sinensis in Kingdom of Cha by Sue Smith, as part of the Cybec Electric season at Melbourne Theatre Company.

      Her first self-produced production since graduating from the Victorian College of the Arts, Laughing Wild by Christopher Durang, was lauded a great success by critics.

      In 2013, she was an Emerging Cultural Leader at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, where she commenced Chinese Whispers with the theatre maker, Chi Vu, as her mentor.

      You can visit her website http://ranip.com.au

    • Susan Russell

      Susan Russell

      Susan Russell has dedicated more than 35 years to the arts. As founder of Nexus Arts, she works with performers, artists and musicians to tour schools across Australia and New Zealand, and is proud that Nexus Arts was one of the first to represent Indigenous performers. Susan was a board member and publicist for Barrie Kosky’s infamous Gilgul Theatre Company in the 1990s, and has booked Melbourne shows for international acts in conjunction with the Adelaide Arts Festival and WOMADelaide. In a previous life, Susan was a therapist and social worker in London and Melbourne.

    • Nikita Gossain

      Nikita Gossain

      With her love for the theatre being born at a young age, Nikita has seen productions in over 20 countries.

      She is a Monash University graduate working in the Deal Advisory division of a top tier accounting firm and is currently undertaking studies towards achieving the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

      In tandem with university, Nikita completed a Certificate II and III in Dance at Dance Factory, which encompassed jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, funk, tap and ballet, but also extended across the broader spectrum of drama, singing and acrobatics. Upon completing her training, she joined Ignite Dance Company, a group that performed on the stage of Australia’s Got Talent.

      As an elective in university, Nikita trained with the Bachelor of Circus students in a semester-long exchange at the National Institute of Circus Arts. Today, Nikita continues to partake in classes at Fly Factory, Circus Oz and The Space Dance & Arts Centre.

    • Jacki Graetz

      Jacki Graetz

      Following a successful accounting career in both Government and large corporates, Jacki moved from NSW to make the Western Suburbs of Melbourne home 20 years ago.

      Jacki has since worked both locally and internationally across FMCG, Transportation, Software Services, Gaming, Telecommunications and Financial Services sectors. With a strong people focus Jacki has specialised in transforming businesses with technology and held senior leadership roles in program/project management, ICT strategy development and organisational change management.

      Having volunteered in support of refugee communities in the West and marvelled at the growth that the arts has bought to her own children, serving on WEYA’s board brings together two passions for Jacki.

    • Mary Musolino

      Mary Musolino

      Mary Musolino is a communications and marketing professional, with over 10 years’ experience in event management and public relations; community engagement and digital communications.

      Mary moved from ‘freezing cold’ Canberra to ‘slightly warmer’ Melbourne in 2015 to pursue her passion for the arts. During this time Mary studied acting at the National Acting School in Canberra and worked as a Drama Teacher in several schools across Canberra. An actor and producer, Mary has been involved in over 50 productions including TVC’s, short and feature films and theatre performances.
      Mary studied at the University of Canberra (Bachelor Degree in Communications) and has Graduate Diploma’s in Social Media Marketing and Online PR; and Project Management.

      A ‘drama kid’ since she was 13, Mary understands the important role the arts can play in a child’s life and is keen to support young artists to live their dream.

      Mary has worked in several volunteer roles including Camp Quality, Make a Wish Foundation, Lions Club Camps and is also an International travel/social issues blogger for Jetset Times.

    • Irena Baric

      Irena Baric

      Irena arrived to Australia in her teenage years due to the civil war in former Yugoslavia. She has spent all her youth living in the Melbourne western suburbs.

      With over 10 years’ experience in the non-for-profit sector in a community setting environment, Irena’s area of expertise has been delivering humanitarian government funded programs that have positive impact to emerging communities.

      She also has experience in case management, property management and the housing sector to meet clientele basic human needs.

      Irena has experienced and witnessed the positive impact of community engagement programs and thrives to see youth being empowered, bring out their potential and guided through new concepts of independence to be active and engaged members of Australian society.

  • Emerging Artists

    • Rexon Pelman

      Rexon Pelman

      Rexson Pelman is a performer, sound designer, community theatre maker, facilitator and music producer, as well as a full time labourer and father of two. His work with Western Edge Youth Arts has been diverse. In 2012 he worked on the Chronicles project, culminating in travelling to the remote Beagle Bay Aboriginal Community in Western Australia to create performance with young people. Rexon was a member of Playback West, as a musician and performer. He has worked in many primary and secondary schools in Melbourne as a facilitating artist, creating performance with hundreds of young people. In 2014 he worked for Platform Youth Theatre on the My Island Dreams project as Lead Artist. As a member of the Edge Ensemble, Rex has performed in Fate (FCAC, 2013), Fate 2.0 (Arts Centre, 2014), Scheherazade (FCAC, 2014), IAGO (Malthouse 2015), Caliban (Malthouse 2016). He also toured schools in Melbourne with Iago as an interactive performance. In 2014 he performed lead in ‘Billy Possible’ at Metonnoia theatre.

      Rex is also a sound engineer. Much of his work in performance is merged with creating sound design and music for performance. He was sound designer and engineer for Begin as You Wish to Continue (Backbone Youth Arts QLD, 2013). Uprising Theatre’s ‘Zombies performance’ 2013 and ‘1001 Nights’ 2014, ‘Scheherazade’ 2014 and The Wheel Of Fate 2016. He recently took part in an ‘MS’ short film called Patchwork as the sound designer. He also creates sound tracks for dance choreography and rap music. Rex is member of the Massive hip-hop choir and is working on their second album.

    • May Saba Sabet

      May Saba Sabet

      May Saba Sabet is an artist driven by a sense of compassion and social justice. She is a devisor, director, and community facilitator who is passionate and experienced in creating high quality art, specifically theatre, involving youth. Her work explores and analyses the beauty and complexity of the world we live in, in an effort to contribute to the advancement of humanity. The drive for her independent theatre productions as well as her community work with youth, is love. Love, she believes, is the strongest force that holds the universe together. Her theatre aims to unite hearts: in its creation (methodology, diverse contributors), in the content it explores (important narratives, variety of voices) and in the conversation it unravels once shared with others.

      May was born in Johensburg, raised in Dar-es-Salaam and recently moved to Melbourne. In Tanzania, May’s sense of community activism was displayed in some incredible theatrical projects. Some of her work in Tanzania include: Directing Everything In Between: a devised play with 70 high school students, facilitating workshops for The Power of Expression; a play about Female Genital Mutilation that toured across high schools in Dar-es-Salaam, and directing “I’m Fine”: a four woman physical theatre piece.

      Now in Melbourne, May’s burning desire to contribute, to learn and to grow in collaboration with other young people continues to thrive. In 2016, while perusing her studies, she produced and directed a piece with 20 youth across Melbourne exploring the Oneness of Humanity. This year, May is growing her body of knowledge and experience with regards to theatre in a high school context, as well as producing and directing an independent piece with 30 youth across Melbourne exploring the empowerment of young people.

       

    • Oti Willoughby

      Oti Willoughby

      Oti Willoughby is a performer, community worker, arts in education facilitator and musician with releases under the moniker Yaw Faso who has recently returned from his first international tour. He has been involved with WEYA since 2009, and over the years he has performed in multiple productions, including Random and Transit, Fate (a collaboration with Cohealth Arts Generator’s musical collective Massive), Scheherazade (2014) and Iago (2015), and in 2016 played the lead role in the Edge Ensemble’s Caliban, which premiered at the Malthouse Theatre and received excellent reviews. He shares his love for acting and music as a facilitator of theatre and music workshops in schools and communities.

    • Piper Huynh

      Piper Huynh

      Piper Huynh is a Melbourne-based multi-skilled theatre practitioner who is driven by stories. She has worked extensively with Western Edge Youth Arts as an artist and performer, and on devising new work, including Iago (2015) and Caliban (2016) as a member of the Edge Ensemble.

      Mentored by artists Cymbeline Buhler, Kerreen Ely-Harper and Dave Kelman, she co-founded the inclusive theatre company, the Echo Collective (formerly known as the AAWE Collective). As an avid Playback Theatre practitioner, she has facilitated workshops in the Philippines and Sri Lanka and continues to work independently educating artists and young people through theatre and performance.

      Her recent works include Patchwork, a short film with MS Australia, producing The Voices of Joan of Arc as part of the Next Wave Festival 2016, and as an assistant artist, cultural consultant and translator, working on the children’s picture book 2 On Winter Melon, which was an accumulation of childhood stories from elders of the Cabramatta community in Sydney. Piper has also explored other art forms such as projection design, photography, animation and film. As of now, she continues to travel, devise, act, facilitate, and develop new work. www.piperhuynh.com

    • Abraham Herasan

      Abraham Herasan

      Abraham is an actor, peer facilitator and mentor who has been involved with Western Edge productions over several years, acting in King Lear, Grusha’s Story, Random and ZamundaI and Caliban.  Abraham who is proud to have grown up in the ‘Flemington Flats’, was a founding member of Western Edge’s Flemington Theatre Group and scripted material for plays including Black Face White Mask, 2012. Abraham is now a member of the Edge Ensemble and was closely involved in creation of Caliban that premiered at the Malthouse Theatre in 2016. He is also studying a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) at Victoria University.

    • Natalie Lucic

      Natalie Lucic

      Natalie is and actor and arts in education facilitator. She has lived in Werribee her whole life. Her parents opened up a pizza shop the day she was born, that is still running strong. So she has been around pizza her whole life. Natalie has always enjoyed entertaining people and being in the spot light. She started acting at 15 with Moving Theatre. She performed various shows with Moving Theatre, including a season at La Mama Courthouse Theatre. She attended film acting school at ITM studios in 2013. In 2014 Natalie joined the Western Edge Youth Arts family as a member of the Edge Ensemble, co-creating and performing in Iago (2015) and Caliban (2016) and is currently teaching with Western Edge, working in a broad variety of schools and communities, and loves every second of it.

    • Michael Logo

      Michael Logo

      Michael Logo is a film and stage actor with diverse experience.

      He first got interested in acting when he was roped into a short film project as part of an after school program in 2007. Eli the Invincible, in which Michael stared alongside his younger brother Elijah, was an award winning short film featured on SBS, about a young wrestling fan, trying to make sense of the racial violence surrounding him. Michael went on to work on several other short films, including Hiders, 2013, and Burning of the Mekong, 2016, before being cast as Tank in the feature film Is This The Real World, shot in 2013 and released in 2015.

      Michael’s training includes a year with Verve Studios culminating in a season of With You, Alone, Verve Studio’s, 2014.

      Michael became involved in Western Edge in 2016 and played the role of Private Detective Fatu in TEK as part of the Pheonix Edge Ensemble. Born in Aukland, raised in Broad Meadows, and proud of his Samoan cultural heritage, Michael worked on the script for Hamlet 2016, translating sections of this inter-cultural retelling of the classic text into Samoan language.

    • Simone Liew

      Simone Liew

      Emerging actor, dancer and writer Simone Liew first came into contact with Western Edge as a year seven student at Mt Alexander High School. She was inspired by older students to join the after school program and in the years since, has relished the creative process of productions including A Midsummer Nights Dream, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Fate and Scheherazade. She is now a peer facilitator with Phoenix Youth Theatre, and appreciates the opportunity to hone her leadership skills. Simone started her education at an international school in Malaysia and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies at RMIT, focusing on languages. She’s learning Mandarin and Korean and wouldn’t mind working overseas, somewhere with a rich arts culture, such as Korea.

      Read our interview with Simone about a creative development she recently participated in here.

    • Obi Jamshadi

      Obi Jamshadi

      Obaidulla Jamshidi, or Obi, as he likes to be know, is a sportsman, motivational speaker and actor who prides himself on being an active member of his community.

      Obi came to Australia from Afghanistan seven years ago, as a young teenager. He is in the second year of a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Criminology at Deakin University and works as a youth worker at the Fort Youth Centre in Corio, supporting new arrivals to connect with services.

      He is involved in organising community events for the Afghani community in Geelong, such as cultural new years celebrations. Obi’s love of soccer led him to represent Australia at the Homeless World Cup in Glasgow in 2016, where he connected with young leaders from the 53 countries participating in this major international charity sports event.

      Obi Has joined WEYA’s Geelong Edge ensemble in 2017 to work on Six Hours In Geelong. He sees the project as ‘a great opportunity to deliver a message across to the community’.

    • Achai Deng

      Achai Deng

      Achai Deng is soul singer, rapper, dancer and emerging actor, whose open creativity and ability to connect has led her into fruitful collaborations in Australia and Uganda. She auditioned for Western Edge’s Edge Ensemble in 2014 after a friend posted about the opportunity on Facebook. She brought energy and poise to her supporting lead roles in two major 2014 productions – Iago and Scheherazade. Achai has particularly enjoyed the teamwork aspect of her involvement with the Edge Ensemble, the opportunity to learn while creating with a great group of fellow artists. Born in Suddan and raised in Kenya, Achai is currently completing a Diploma of International Business and Marketing, and aspires to work with the UNHCR as a mentor to refugees.

    • Matt O’Brien

      Matt O’Brien

      Emerging film and stage actor Matt O’Brien immigrated with his family from New Zealand when he was in his early teens. His involvement in Western Edge productions includes Caucasian Chalk Circle, King Lear, Fate and Scheherazade: his introduction not only to theatre, but also to the exhilarating complexity and diversity of life in Melbourne’s west. Matt has acted in a number of independent short films, in many advertising voice-over gigs, and has appeared as a guest actor on Neighbours. He is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts / Business in Marketing and Advertising at RMIT University, and is making plans to study overseas. As a peer facilitator with Phoenix Youth Theatre, Matt enjoys the feeling that he is able to pass on what he has learned while honing his own craft in the ‘over-the-top’ world of theatre that he adores.

    • Lan Chu

      Lan Chu

      Lan Chu is an emerging actor and with a sensitivity for stories. One thing she enjoys about working in community theatre is the opportunity to take audiences on a journey – to ‘show them what’s really happening’. She loves the process of taking on a character: ‘it’s kind of like a mask – you’re not who you are any more’. But the space to think objectively about ‘meaning and morality’ is what she treasures most. A Flemington born and raised Vietnamese-Australian, Lan first became involved in Western Edge as a Mt Alexander High School student in 2013. Subsequently she has worked on Fate and Scheherazade. She is now a peer facilitator with the Phoenix Youth Theatre and is currently completing her Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology) at RMIT University. She imagines that her future involves working with children either as a teacher, or in the performing arts.

      Read our Passionate Pathways feature on Lan here.

    • Craig Gunguta

      Craig Gunguta

      Dancer, actor, musician and art’s in education facilitator Craig Gunguta is a creative powerhouse who believes he is here for a reason. At 21 he is already carving out a unique path for himself.

      As a teenager in Zimbabwe, Craig was involved in making Zimdancehall music. Since moving to Australia in 2014, he has continued to develop his creative practice, exploring dance and theatre, while maintaining a love for music.

      Craig currently working for Western Edge Youth Arts as a facilitator, and has been a member of WEYA’s emerging artist ensemble, Geelong Edge, since it’s inception. As a member of Geelong Edge, Craig has co-created two major productions, and toured schools in the Geelong region with an interactive educational theatre work.

      Read our Passionate Pathways feature on Craig here.

    • Shinaya Tuari

      Shinaya Tuari

      Actor Shinaya Tuari has been a member of the Geelong Edge ensemble for the the last two years and has enjoyed the opportunity to learn new things while also educating other people. She has always loved acing, and since primary school has sort out subjects that involve the arts. Shinaya moved to Australia from New Zealand with her family eleven years ago, and is grappling with what her Maori heritage means to her to her. She works part time at a bakery and a super market, and freelances as a makeup artists. She loves going to the gym and besides being an actor, also wouldn’t mind being a fitness model.

       

    • Chang Lol

      Chang Lol

      Chang Lol. 18. From a South Sudanese background.

      ‘Western Edge Youth Theatre helps youth in Geelong to express themselves and to entertain other young people. It also gets important messages out into the community and that’s what I want to do. I want people to know our stories.’

    • Sila Toprak

      Sila Toprak

      Nineteen year old Sila is an emerging actress who has worked on diverse productions, for both film and stage. Currently studying a Bachelor of Criminology/Bachelor of Psychological Science at Deakin University, Sila has always been interested in the ways humans coexist. Issues of racism, Islamophobia and injustice in an ever-changing society are ideas that she aims to explore through her work. Sila has been involved in Western Edge Youth Arts since 2014 and is a proud member of the Geelong Edge Ensemble. From a Turkish background, she has brought a contemporary representation of Islam and Middle-Eastern culture to the WEYA productions that she has co-devised with the ensemble, including ‘Forbidden’, ‘Belonging’, and ‘Six Hours in Geelong’. Acting and story telling have always been passions in Sila’s life – ‘Change is a collective effort, and if we have the opportunity to speak up on issues of importance, then we should. Through entertainment and story-telling, I hope to be a voice for the under-represented and spark positive change in our society’.

    • Alphonse Mulashe

      Alphonse Mulashe

      Alphonse Mulashe. 18, from a Congolese background.

      ‘This theatre, it’s educational. It helps young people to develop and grow. It changes how people act and their personality. It sends out messages to the community. I like challenging myself and trying new things. I like mixing old stories with new ones. Theatre is amazing, it can really change people.’

    • Eto Masoka

      Eto Masoka

      I like creating theatre because I enjoy doing it and it’s one of my favourite careers that I love doing. I want to be a nurse and also I would like to be involve in acting like drama and all that. I just enjoy doing it. I get excited every time I do this job.

    • Alain Bakulikira

      Alain Bakulikira

      Alain Bakulikira. 20, from a Congolose background.

      ‘I’m studying to be an engineer but I’m also passionate about acting. It’s a great way to create. I am interested in employment opportunities but it’s more than that, it’s about being something different, learning about ourselves, developing new skills and sending out a message.’

    • Irene Bakulikira

      Irene Bakulikira

      Irene is an actor, singer and dancer. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts/Masters of Teaching at Deakin University.

      A founding member of WEYA’s Geelong Edge emerging artists’ ensemble, she has been involved in Western Edge Youth Art’s programs over the last three years. She has brought her charisma and sensitivity into the development of two major original works with the ensemble, and toured schools with an interactive educational theatre piece that reflects elements of her own experience as a Congolese born Australian.

      Irene teaches dance at FORT Youth Centre and is looking forward to focusing in on dance and theatre as part of her university studies.

      Read our Passionate Pathways feature on Irene here.

  • Alumni

    • Maki Issa

      Maki Issa

      Maki is widely recognised as an emerging community leader in Flemington. A founder member of Flemington Theatre Group, he has also worked as a peer educator for the education program of Western Edge and has performed in a number of community and school performances. Maki is an emerging writer who made significant contributions to the script of Black Face White Mask and Zamunda. A member of Flemington Theatre Group, he has worked as a peer educator for the education program of Western Edge and has participated in a number of Western Edge performances as well as working with Bryan Derrick’s Theatre of Transformation.

    • Mazna Komba

      Mazna Komba

      Mazna has been performing with Western Edge Youth Arts since 2008, and has undertaken numerous mentorships with the company including creating her own work as part of Explosion. Since then Mazna has performed with Playback West and Flemington Theatre Group including the sellout season of Black Face White Mask at The Malthouse in 2012. A founding member of the Flemington Theatre Group and Massive, Mazna unites the two companies. She has also worked as part of Playback West and has been involved in a number of Western Edge community productions since 2003.

    • Solomon Salew

      Solomon Salew

      Solomon was one of the key actors / collaborators on Flemington Theatre Group’s Black Face White Mask at the Malthouse. He also performed a monologue from the play to the Prince of Wales and the Premier of Victoria at the Jubilation showcase event at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. He recently appeared in a film by director Khoa Do, as well as performing in Western Edge’s youth theatre plays since 2005. ‘I think the real way to portray your community is to do it the real way – be true to who you are. If you haven’t discovered that person yet, then be willing to make mistakes – the most honest thing is to be true,’ he says.

    • Max Barker

      Max Barker

      Max Barker is a teacher, director performance maker and arts facilitator based in Melbourne with more than ten years experience in a range of youth, arts and education projects in Australia, Thailand, Laos, India and Sri Lanka. Max enjoys working in a variety of styles and is interested in multidisciplinary performance work that explore the sharing and telling of personal stories and collaborative experience. Recent performance and directorial work includes pieces at The Big West Festival and Fringe Festival, Melbourne, Crack Theatre Festival, Newcastle and You Are Here Festival, Canberra.

    • Joana Pires

      Joana Pires

      Joana Pires has worked extensively as an actor across film, television and stage. She starred in a main cast role in the Emmy and BAFTA award winning miniseries Mrs Biggs for the Seven Network and UKITV. In 2014, Joana played Mrs. Yousef in the majestic Australian feature film Healing alongside Hugo Weaving and Don Hany. In 2015 Joana made her Melbourne Theatre Company mainstage stage debut in I Call My Brothers. A winner of the 2009 Malthouse Theatre Development Award for her performance of Truth Machine for Malthouse Theatre her other stage credits include Love Boy directed by Susie Dee, Fate directed by Tariro Mavondo both for the Arts Centre Melbourne and Tenderness for the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney directed by Nadja Kostich. As a creator Joana that has lead vibrant and diverse performance work with companies such as St Martins Youth Arts, Arts Access Victoria, Melton City Council, Western Edge Youth Arts and Platform Youth Theatre. She is a lead artist for NBNW, Playback West and AAWE Collective which received the 2014 MIRA award for best inclusive arts group. Joana’s training includes a Post Graduate Certificate in Arts and Social Engagement (VCA), BA Drama & Theatre (La Trobe), extensive acting training with Robert Draffin and Mary Sitarenos (Liminal Theatre Company), Leonid Verzub (Moscow Art Theatre) and writing mentorships with acclaimed writers Christos Tsiolkas (The Slap) and Jenny Kemp (Still Angela). Joana is a published author and in 2008 worked under mentor Christos Tsiolkas to write and perform in the stage production of Waking In Angola (La Mama).

    • Legrand Andersen

      Legrand Andersen

      Legrand Andersen joined Western Edge Youth Arts as a teenager and quickly became a youth mentor, facilitator and performer. As a member of the Flemington Theatre Group he helped to write and produce Black Face White Mask and Zamunda, which they put on for Melbourne Fringe. As a member of the Edge Ensemble he worked with the hip hop crew Massive to produce Fate for the Big West Festival, and played the lead role in Iago for two seasons. He was awarded Emerging Community Leader of the Year by Maribyrnong City Council in 2010 for organising youth events with FreeZA, Western Edge and White Ribbon.

    • David Cuong Nguyen

      David Cuong Nguyen

      David is a practicing community artist who works with the Centre for Multicultural Youth, North Richmond Community Health, Big West and Phunktional Theatre, as well as Western Edge Youth Arts. He recently collaborated with Dave Kelman on Searching For Lear and Black Face White Mask to connect Debney Park Secondary College students with the wider Flemington community. An award-winning scriptwriter, David helps young people write their own high quality, original scripts. He was recently recognised by Castanet (Arts Victoria’s advisory committee for community arts) as a leading artist working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

    • Monica McDonald

      Monica McDonald

      Monica McDonald is Melbourne-based actor, performing artist, and aspiring singer / songwriter. Monica joined emerging theatre company Moving Theatre in 2010 – it ignited her passion and exposed her to the Melbourne creative arts scene at the fresh age of 16. She performed in the cabaret show Obsession in the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2010 and Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2011, at the Coopers Malthouse in AmberLOLipop’s production Bella Du Freak 2013. She has also performed in various shows at La Mama Courthouse Theatre such as Manonita 2012 and Wonderland 2013 with Moving Theatre, Platform @ LaMama 2014, and undertook Ibijerri Theatre Company’s Writers Residency 2014 in which she performed in Jacob Boehme’s piece Flashblaks. Recently Monica debuted her own theatre piece during the 2014 Platform @ La Mama winter season in which she wrote, directed and performed in, titled Woman, a show about her culture identity. Monica had a small part in the film Under A Kaleidoscope, which won best Australian feature film at Monster Fest. Monica is an emerging young talent with high hopes to further her creative pursuits in theatre, film and music.

  • Previous Guest Artists

    • Callum Watson

      Composer

      Callum Watson

      Composer

      Callum Watson, 20 years, is quickly becoming recognised as one of Victoria’s most active up and coming musicians. He has achieved this outstanding musical reputation through his work as a pianist and composer during his secondary school years and now continues to build on that while studying for a Bachelor of Music majoring in Composition at Monash University.

      Callum has been performing since he was 7 and composing since he was 13. Recently, Callum has developed a reputation for composing concert music. Last year his composition Clash of the Cultures featuring various ethnic instrumentation from Didgeridoo to Sitar to Bagpipes received critical acclaim. For this work, Callum was awarded the Margaret Schofield Scholarship for composition by the VCAA. This distinguished award is given to one composer in Victoria each year as part of VCE. Callum played this work at the 2016 Top Acts series at Melba Hall.

      Callum is currently composing a piece for Monash University, to be performed by The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and a group of underprivilaged school students. Next year he plans to tour with the university to Europe.

    • Harley Hefford

      Teaching Artist

      Harley Hefford

      Teaching Artist

      Harley Hefford fostered his love for performing, designing and writing through Monash University’s Bachelor of Performing Arts. He began facilitating Improv classes in 2011, finding a passion for teaching, which led to Melbourne University’s Masters in Secondary Education. He finds working as a theatremaker and drama teacher complimentary and energising.

    • Amy Macpherson

      Teaching Artist

      Amy Macpherson

      Teaching Artist

      Amy is a dancer and physical theatre performer with a strong track record of innovative contemporary practice. Previous work:  FORKLIFT touring to Cirko Festival 2015, Helsinki, Finland, in Sydney Festival 2014 and touring to the Arts Centre Melbourne, APAM in Brisbane, HOOPLA Festival, Sydney and Glow Festival in Melbourne (KAGE), Behind The Veneer (The Contemporary Dance Company of Western Australia), Symphony presented in Sydney Festival 2013 and touring to Daejeon, South Korea and Lismore NSW (Legs on the Wall), Choreographer/Performer in TRTH+FNTSY presented in Melbourne Fringe Festival 2013, Choreographer/Performer in SOMA supported by an Australia Council for the Arts 2014 JUMP Mentorship grant and Actor in The Ring Cycle (Opera Australia). Amy has been teaching since 2009. Some of the places she has taught include the National Institute for Circus Arts, Buzz Dance Theatre, RMIT University, Western Edge Youth Arts, Strut Dance and the Victorian Ballet School. She graduated with a Bachelor of Dance at the Victorian College for the Arts in 2007 and received the “Melbourne Festival Discovery Award” and “Best Dance” in the Melbourne Fringe Festival for TRTH+FNTSY in 2013.

    • Naomi Rukavina

      Associate Director, Acting Coach

      Naomi Rukavina

      Associate Director, Acting Coach

      Graduating from Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor Dramatic Arts in 2010, Naomi’s credits include: War Crimes (Real TV), Kasandra and TrilogyAfter Al This, As We Mean To Go On and Now More Than Ever (Elbow Room). Shotgun Wedding (No Show), Doubt (VCA), Vampirella (Malthouse), Women of Troy and Vampirella (ABC Radio National), The Seizure (Hayloft Project).

      Short Films: Goodbye, Hello. Time and Again and Save Me, with Television roles in: Offspring (Network 10), It’s a Date (ABC) and Wentworth (Foxtel). Feature Films: Save Your Legs (Madman) and Pawno.

      Further theatre work: Arden V Arden (Hayloft Project), The Crucible and Yellow Moon (Melbourne Theatre Company), Normal.Suburnban.Planetary.Meltdown (Malthouse), and MEDEA (Complete Works Theatre Co).

    • Tariro Mavondo

      Actor, Director

      Tariro Mavondo

      Actor, Director

      Currently working with the Bell Theatre company, Tariro graduated in 2011 from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts and received the Irene Mitchell Award for excellence in her final year. Tariro is a multi-disciplinary storyteller, theatre director, curator, cultural diversity and performance consultant, performance coach and facilitator across performing arts, education, government, mental health, law enforcement and social justice. Her theatre credits as a performer include Three Sisters (Metanoia Theatre 2016), The Faithful Servant (The Street Theatre, Canberra, 2016), Jumpy (MTC, 2015), Pigeons (MTC/MAV, 2015), Belleville (Red Stitch Theatre, 2014) and Arden V Arden (Hayloft Project, 2013). Theatre Credits as a Director include the Edge Ensemble’s Caliban co-director Dave Kelman (Western Edge Youth Arts, 2016), Iago co-director Dave Kelman (Western Edge Youth Arts, 2014, 2015), Billy Possible written by Neil Cole, co-director Emma Buckley (Mechanics Institute Brunswick, 2014), Fate co-director Dave Nyugen (Arts Centre Melbourne, Massive Hip Hop Choir, Flemington Theatre Group and Western Edge Ensemble, 2014). Tariro has been a Melbourne Theatre Company/Multicultural Arts Victoria Ambassador. Professional development has included: Movement based Expressive Arts Training, Tamalpa Institute (California USA, 2015, 2016), Motion Theatre, Nina Wise, (California USA, 2015, 2016). Tariro has won awards for her work in film, including: Best Film (Home) Heart of Gold International Short Film Festival, 2015; Best Actress (Arrivals) 19th NYC PictureStart Film Festival, 2015. Tariro is also a State and National Australian Poetry Slam Finalist and her work has been published in PEN Melbourne, Focus and Overland Magazines.

    • Jacinda Richards

      Teaching Artist

      Jacinda Richards

      Teaching Artist

      Jacinda Richards is a professional dancer, choreographer and community arts practitioner. Her dance skills span many genres including, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, Latin and West African. In 2014 Jacinda graduated from Deakin University with an Honors degree focusing on ‘the role of hip-hop dance in young peoples sense of well being’. Since 2009 Jacinda has worked with Western English Language School in Braybrook and Wyndham, where she is responsible for their community engagement program, providing free after school activities for young people newly arrived in Australia. Jacinda is also the founder and CEO of L2R Next Gen Inc., a grassroots, not-for-profit hip-hop dance organisation based in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Jacinda believes there is one language we can all speak: DANCE!

    • Katherine Branch

      Designer

      Katherine Branch

      Designer

      Katherine is an experienced and talented designer who made a major contribution to Western Edge’s recent acclaimed Beagle Bay Chronicles project. Katherine has been involved with Western Edge since 2006 designing sets and costumes on a range of productions including Excavations, Chronicles, Frolic (Signal), PLAY (Western English Language School), Artist in Schools ‘Be not Afeard’ (Footscray City College) and most recently Scheherazade (Footscray Community Art Centre). Other design projects include: Designer for Kids Thrive 2014, Big West Festival Designer 2011, Victorian Opera’s educational program Noye’s Flood, Costume Designer for Humour Foundation Australia. Other companies include: Adelaide Festival Centre, Lyric Opera, Vlaames Opera (Belgium), Oz Opera (props maker), Australian Ballet (Scenic Artist), Chanel (Scenic Artist), Lion King (props). Recipient of the Sir George Tallis Design Award (VCA 2006). Completed Masters of Theatre Design (VCA 2012).

    • Jo Trevathan

      Teaching Artist

      Jo Trevathan

      Teaching Artist

      Jo is a professional performer, musician, devisor, workshop leader, theatre technician and arts administrator. She has extensive experience in bringing together different personnel and expertise from many arts communities for large and small-scale events. She has toured both nationally and internationally with The Teabags and Spindrift Music Theatre. Since 2004 she has worked for Western Edge Youth Arts as a lead artist devising, scripting, and directing school shows. In 2007 she was the installation artist for Old Ghosts New Land and in 2009 she was project coordinator and installation artist for Home Is Where… as part of the Big West Festival. Other large-scale community projects include Spirit of the World (Musical Director, Geelong Ethnic Communities 2002/03) and This Point in Time, Angels, and Voices in Harmony (Artistic / Musical Director, Williamstown Festival 1997 to 2000). In 2009 she received assistance to study with the Ubuntu Choirs Network in Canada and now teaches multi-ethnic and community choirs. She is currently working at Big West Festival as their Community Arts Coordinator.