Our People

  • Staff

    • Penny Harpham

      co-Artistic Director

      Penny Harpham

      co-Artistic Director

      Penny Harpham, previously WEYA’s Associate Director, is also the Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of independent theatre company, She Said Theatre. She is a Directing graduate from the Victorian College of the Arts, where she won the Barbara Manning Scholarship for Excellence and the Global Atelier Scholarship for overseas travel. Her passion for new writing and experimental performance form has seen her work as a performer and director with companies across Australia and overseas. She has a Green Room Award (The Stream/ The Boat/ The Shore/ The Bridge), a Green Room nomination (HART), Adelaide, Melbourne and NZ Fringe awards (HART) and was selected to partake in Melbourne Theatre Company’s Women in Theatre Program (2019), Melbourne Festival’s Director’s Lab (2016) and Playwriting Australia’s Director’s Studio (2015).

      For She Said Theatre she most recently directed HART (national and NZ tour), Fallen (with Sport for Jove Theatre at The Seymour Centre in 2017 and reimagined and performed as an independent She Said Theatre production at fortyfiveDownstairs in 2018) and Salt (La Mama Courthouse). She has worked extensively as a director, teaching artist and workshop facilitator in the youth arts sector through St Martins Youth Arts, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Signal Arts and La Boite Theatre Company.

    • Tariro Mavondo

      co-Artistic Director

      Tariro Mavondo

      co-Artistic Director

      Tariro Mavondo is a multi-disciplinary artist and performer born in Zimbabwe raised in Frankston. As an actor she has worked with Red Stitch, Black Swan Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Metanoia Theatre, The Street Theatre Canberra, RL Productions, Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Co, Belvoir and Riverside Theatre. Tariro also works across film and television (Other People’s Problems ABC, Winners and Losers, Shakespeare Republic, Sisters) and won best actress for her role in Arrivals at the NYC Picture Start Film Festival and best performance in Home at the Dungog Film Festival.

      Tariro graduated with a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts from Victorian College of the Arts, where she was awarded the Irene Mitchell Award in 2011. Tariro is an awarding winning spoken word artist. Her piece ‘The Dangers of a Single Story’ will be part of an anthology ‘Growing Up African in Australia’ published by Black Inc Books (2019). Tariro received scholarships to attend Expressive Arts Therapy training (Tamalpa Institute, California 2015, 2016), Decoloniality Summer School (University SA, Pretoria South Africa, 2017), and Decolonising Knowledge and Power Summer School (Center of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues, Barcelona 2019). Tariro is the founder of Africa’s Got Talent Australia and a Co-Founder of Centre of Poetics and Justice. She is currently performing in Bell Shakespeare’s production of Titus Andronicus until September.

    • Sally Farr

      CEO

      Sally Farr

      CEO

      Sally’s passion for working behind the scenes as an arts manager for the last 25 years comes from the belief that nothing else compares to the personal satisfaction that creative self expression can bring individuals.

      A dedicated and often adventurous arts manager, Sally has experience delivering projects in the not-for-profit and government sectors. Sally was Assistant Manager at Musica Viva in Melbourne (1997-2000) where she delivered the companies first youth focused music series, Ménage. In Adelaide, as Audience Development Officer at Country Arts SA (2000-2002) she supported the delivery of regional arts programming, before moving to Alice Springs to set up Red Hot Arts Marketing, supporting independent and small arts organisations in Central Australia (2004-2007). She has a knack for connecting with people to raise funds for not-for-profit icons, and fine-tuned these skills at Regional Arts Australia (2002-2004), Vision Australia (2010-2012) and RMIT (2011-2012). Sally joined Western Edge Youth Arts in 2013. She is an active member of Arts West, and alliance of arts organisations in Melbourne’s west.

      Sally holds a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology/Theatre) and a Bachelor of Commerce from the Australian National University, as well as a graduate diploma of Arts Management from VCA/University of Melbourne.

    • Gayathri K

      Marketing and Admin Coordinator

      Gayathri K

      Marketing and Admin Coordinator

      Gaya hails from Singapore where she spent 10 years studying in a performing arts school. She worked in the background for countless school productions and also worked alongside her father who works as a stage manager for a dance company from age 16.

      Gaya graduated from Monash University with a Degree in Communications and has worked as a Social Media Manager in a Melbourne-based marketing agency, and as a Marketing Assistant at the Van Haandel Group, renown for Melbourne’s iconic Stokehouse. She has volunteered her time at YGAP, ACMI and Helping Hoops and is currently the Marketing and Admin Coordinator at Western Edge Youth Arts. She’s passionate about working with youth and has a strong urge to be part of a not-for-profit organisation.

    • Chanella Macri

      Lead Artist

      Chanella Macri

      Lead Artist

      Chanella is a Melbourne based actor and theatre-maker from the Blue Mountains, Sydney. She is a second-generation Samoan-Italian immigrant whose practice centers on body, family, loss and the intersection of cultural identity and gender.

      Graduating in 2017 from the VCA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Practice and as Valedictorian of the University of Melbourne VCA and MCM. In 2018 she worked for the University of Melbourne facilitating Acting It Out, their inaugural outreach program for secondary school students.

      Theatre credits include; Whale (dir. Katrina Cornwell) for Darebin Speakeasy, Truly Madly Britney (dir. Hannah Fallowfield) for Theatre Works, Sue-Anne in Moral Panic (dir. Bridget Balodis), Miss Foxhill in Red Stitch’s Suddenly Last Summer (dir. Stephen Nicolazzo), Deborah in La Mama’s Crazy Brave (dir. Melanie Beddie), Freya in Speak of the Devil (self-devised) for Melbourne Fringe 2017 and Adelaide Fringe 2018, La Mama’s Woman with a Tomahawk (dir. Iris Gaillard), Kattrin in VCA’s Mother Courage (dir. Chris Kohn).

    • Rexson Pelman

      Lead Artist

      Rexson Pelman

      Lead Artist

      Rexson Pelman is a performer, sound designer, facilitator, rapper and music producer, as well as a full-time labourer and father of four. 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. Rexson 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, Rexson has performed in Fate (FCAC, 2013), Fate 2.0 (Arts Centre, 2014), Scheherazade (FCAC, 2014), Iago (Malthouse 2015), Caliban (Malthouse 2016). He has also toured schools in Melbourne with Iago as an interactive performance. In 2014 he performed lead in Billy Possible at Metonnoia theatre. In 2018, he worked with WEYA as a Support Artist at St Albans Edge, Geelong Edge and Footscray Edge, and performed with Footscray Edge in Lele,Butterfly.

      Rexson has also worked as a sound engineer. Much of his work in performance is merged with creating sound design and music for performance. Rexson was a sound designer and engineer for Begin as You Wish to Continue with Backbone Youth Arts QLD, 2013. Uprising Theatre’s Zombies performance (2013) and 1001 Nights (2014), Scheherazade (2014), The Wheel Of Fate (2016) and Lele, Butterfly (2018). Rexson also took part in an ‘MS’ short film, Patchwork as the sound designer, and creates soundtracks for dance choreography.

    • John Marc

      Lead Artist

      John Marc

      Lead Artist

      Upon graduating from The University of Ballarat, Arts Academy in 2008, John Marc performed for a Theatre in Education Company called Brainstorm Productions through to 2013.

      John Marc works closely with theatre company, 15 Minutes from Anywhere, developing shows such as “Just a Boy, Standing in Front of a Girl” and “The Yellow Wave”. The latter was nominated for a Green Room Award for most outstanding ensemble in 2015.

      His stage credits include; The Yellow Wave, The Bachelor S17 E05, Survival, Just A Boy Standing in Front of a Girl, and many more. He also performed in The Dead Twin, written by Chi Vu, at the Georgetown Festival in Malaysia.

      John Marc is a proud company member of Impro Melbourne and Soothplayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare.

      He works as a casual relief teacher for various primary schools around Melbourne, and as a teaching artist at St. Martin’s Youth Theatre.

    • 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

    • Jock Jeffries

      Chair

      Jock Jeffries

      Chair

      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.

    • Irena Baric

      Deputy Chair

      Irena Baric

      Deputy Chair

      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.

    • Alex Cousner

      Treasurer

      Alex Cousner

      Treasurer

      Originally from Queensland, Alex Cousner has worked most of his life in the trade union movement and in industrial relations. Alex has recently moved to the western suburbs and is excited to help build and support the community in particular young people in their person and work related pursuits. Alex is the Principal of Ethical Workplaces a firm dedicated to supporting and defending workers rights and developing good industrial relations policy.

    • 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.

    • Sherry-Rose Bih Watts

      Sherry-Rose Bih Watts

      SherryRose is a young African Australian of Cameroonian descent currently studying a Bachelor of International Relations at La Trobe University. She has a keen interest in migrant affairs, politics, women’s empowerment and diversity and representation in media and leadership. She is the founder of the social enterprise, WomanGirl, and an associate with Foundation for Young Australians, YLab.

    • Tania Cañas

      Tania Cañas

      Tania Cañas is an artist researcher based on unceded Kulin Nation Territory. She is the Co-Coordinator at Cohealth Arts Generator, lecturer in Art and Community Practice at the VCA as well as a community theatre practitioner. She currently sits on the editorial board at the International Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Academic Journal/ PTO Inc.

      Tania has published widely including through Currency Press Australia, Intellect Books, Melbourne University Publishing, Arts Hub and e-flux as well as various international academic journals and magazines.  She has presented at conferences as well as facilitated community theatre workshops locally and internationally.

    • Vanessa O’Neill

      Vanessa O’Neill

      Vanessa trained as an actor at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier and at the Drama Centre in London. Vanessa has worked for a range of theatre companies including The Australian Shakespeare Company, La Mama, Shakespeare by The Sea, Harlos Theatre Company, Sydney Art Theatre, and Bell Shakespeare. From 2001 – 2004 she toured her one-woman-show Happy With Half Your Life across Australia, the UK and Europe, with the assistance of The Australia Council for the Arts. Vanessa has toured schools throughout Australia with a solo show of Shakespeare’s Women. In 2013, Vanessa took part in the International Actors Fellowship at Shakespeare’s Globe. In 2015-16 her show In Search of Owen Roe was on at La Mama and was selected for the 2016 VCE Drama Playlist. It also toured with Regional Arts Victoria. Vanessa is currently the Manager, Schools Engagement at Arts Centre Melbourne.

    • Vincent Shin

      Vincent Shin

      Vincent was born in Seoul, South Korea and has lived in Melbourne most of his life. He is currently employed by Westjustice Community Legal Centre but based at The Grange P12 College as a school lawyer providing students with legal advice in an Australian first.

      Vincent worked as a carer in residential care homes for young people removed by child protection for many years and is very passionate about working with young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Vincent is a practicing lawyer and was admitted as an Australian Lawyer in 2014.  

    • Piper Huynh

      Piper Huynh

      Piper Huynh is a Melbourne-based theatre-maker driven by untold stories. She has worked extensively with Western Edge Youth Arts for over 10 years devising in their ground breaking projects such as Chronicles: Searching for Songlines, Beagle Bay Chronicles, Iago and Caliban. As a Support Artist with the company for many years she brings a breadth of experience in community engagement, accessibility and inclusive practices, facilitation and stage/production management. Piper currently works as the Office Manager at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. She is a graduate of the Footscray Community Arts’ Emerging Cultural Leaders Program and the Vietnamese Community of Australia’s Dual Identity Leadership Program.

  • Emerging Artists

    • Alphonse Mulashe

      Alphonse Mulashe

      Alphonse Mulashe is a musician and emerging actor, committed to community and family. He gets up at 4 or 5am most mornings to work as an apprentice plumber, and rehearses in the evenings. He was 12 when he came to Australia with his mum and four siblings, and first became involved with Western Edge Youth Arts when he was in Year 10 at North Geelong Secondary Collage, attracted by the opportunity to learn about other peoples’ experiences.

      He has been a member of the Geelong Edge ensemble since it’s inception. In 2016 he contributed to the creation of Belonging, the ensemble’s first major work, and performed in Six Hours In Geelong in 2017. Alphonse is also the pianist for a Congolese community choir that sings at Church and community events, representing Congolese culture.

    • Amarachi Okorom

      Amarachi Okorom

      Amarachi Okorom is a Nigerian born actress and spoken word poet. She grew up in Auckland, New Zealand where she spent 14 years of her life. In 2013 she moved to Melbourne, where she studied and graduated with a Bachelor of Technology. She spends most of her time working at the Wyndham City Libraries and being involved in Wyndham Edge sessions. Outside of her commitments she is usually practicing and perfecting her spoken word skills and writing stories.

      Amarachi joined Wyndham Edge in 2017 and performed in At First Glance (2017). Amarachi played Miranda in Caliban (2018) as part of the Edge Ensemble, and performed in Wyndham Edge’s TIG (2018). She has performed her original spoken word pieces at various events across Melbourne in 2018. Amarachi has also worked as a Support Artist at Victoria University Secondary College, St Albans Edge and Wyndham Edge in 2018. In 2019, Amarachi worked with WEYA as a Support Artist for the SIGNAL program, and is currently working on Lear with Skin Of Our Teeth Productions in Geelong.

      “Great theatre is about challenging how we think and encouraging us to fantasise about a world we aspire to” – Willem Dafoe

    • Eto Masoka

      Eto Masoka

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

    • Leigh Lule

      Leigh Lule

      Leigh is a Melbourne based actress, musician and aspiring documentarian. Her earliest memories of performing include forcing her parents to listen to pitchy renditions of Disney classics, whilst smashing the keys of a small Casio piano. To this day, it is no different, but she would like to think her artistry has improved.

      Leigh joined WEYA’s Wyndham Edge in 2018, and played the lead role in the ensemble’s original piece ‘TIG; a recontextualised version of the ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone. She now works for WEYA as a Support Artist at Manor Lakes College and hopes to continue creating theatrical work that focuses on fostering environmental, political and socio-economic change.

    • Michael Logo

      Michael Logo

      Michael Logo is a film and stage actor with diverse experience. He first became 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 in 2015.

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

      Michael became involved in Western Edge Youth Arts in 2016 and played the role of Private Detective Fatu in TEK as part of the Phoenix Edge ensemble. Born in Auckland, raised in Broadmeadows, 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. Since then he has performed in Stand Out (2017) and Lele, Butterfly (2018), and has also worked as a Support Artist for WEYA at St Albans Edge and Victoria University Secondary College.

    • Moeitaga Anae

      Moeitaga Anae

      Moeitaga is an emerging actor, singer and is WEYA’s newest and youngest Support Artist. Being first introduced to WEYA through the school program at Victoria University Secondary College, Moei has performed in Hamlet (2016), Macbeth (2017) and Lear (2018). She has a keen passion for working with youth her age and wants to continue acting and performing.

      Outside of WEYA, Moei works at Healthfarm and is interested to pursue further studies in performing arts and interior design. In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies with family and hopes to one day achieve her dream of starring in them.

    • Natalie Lucic

      Natalie Lucic

      Natalie is an actress and an education facilitator who hails from Werribee, Victoria. Natalie has always always enjoyed performing and being in the spotlight from a young age. She started acting professionally at age 15 with Moving Theatre, where she performed in various shows including a season at La Mama Courthouse Theatre.

      In 2013, she attended film acting school at ITM studios. In 2014, Natalie joined the Western Edge Youth Arts’ Edge Ensemble, where she co-created and performed in Iago (2015), Caliban (2016) and Caliban Tour (2018). As a Support Artist with WEYA, she has worked at seven schools and at Phoenix Edge, North Geelong Edge, Geelong Edge and Wyndham Edge. In 2019, she will continue as a Support Artists at Wyndham Edge while she works full-time.

       

    • Ror Akot

      Ror Akot

      Ror is a hip hop artist, poet and actor from South Sudan. In 2005, he immigrated to Australia with his family. Ror’s music speaks of the hardships and triumphs he has experienced in his young life. His music is continually growing and evolving through his powerful lyrics and live performances. As well as performing extensively for his local community, Ror has also performed at Peace Pallet, a benefit for South Sudan; Bring It Festival at Melbourne Arts Centre; and the Boston Leadership Course, U.S.A.

      In addition to this, Ror is a talented basketball player; his role on SBS Series, Sunshine, is his first professional acting appearance. In 2018, he played the lead role in the Caliban Tour with WEYA’s Edge Ensemble, worked as a Support Artist at Wyndham Edge, and performed in ‘TIG at the Wyndham Cultural Centre.

    • Sami Obama

      Sami Obama

      Sami ‘Obama’ Weleda’abgzi is an actor, director and graduate of Brave Studios and Youthworx Media. Sami has performed in feature films, short films, in a web series and in theatre. He played the leading role in feature film, Found in a Dream (2017). Sami is also known for his popular music video in which he performed traditional Ethiopian dances, that had 4.5 million hits.

      In 2018, Sami created Jebena Genie (2018), an online web series adapted from the Disney classic, Aladdin, in which he plays the genie who grants wishes by performing traditional Ethiopian dances. Sami also worked with WEYA as a choreographer for St Albans Edge’s performance, Grace for Race, and co-produced a web series with Penny Harpham, I Can’t Even (working title).

      Currently, Sami works as a Support Artist for WEYA, where he helps facilitate the Footscray Edge ensemble. Sami is also producing films in partnership with Youthworx. Sami hopes to diversify Australia’s artistic landscape, by inspiring the next generation who might not see many culturally diverse actors like him on stage.

    • Sila Toprak

      Sila Toprak

      Sila Toprak is a 20-year-old Support Artist who has been a proud member of WEYA since 2014, and an original member of the Geelong Edge ensemble. Born in Australia and of Turkish descent, Sila’s childhood consisted of journeying between Turkey and Australia, forming her deep appreciation for Middle-Eastern culture. This is reflected through her work in WEYA productions; Forbidden (2014-2015), Belonging (2015), Of Longing and Belonging (2016), Six Hours in Geelong (2017), Antigone (2018) and the most recent, Share House (2018). Share House was Sila’s first play she wrote & devised; an original, sit-com inspired comedy that featured the lives of ethnically diverse youth living in Geelong.

      Sila previously attended Mooregrace Acting Studios before her involvement with WEYA. She learned the basics of acting and film production, developed further by her experience in advanced theatre, stage and street performances with WEYA throughout the years. She has a love for all things creative and has a sense of fulfilment when she makes and edits films, and focuses on other artistic projects.

      Alongside her passion for the arts, Sila is an advocate for human rights and social activism in the criminal-justice area and hopes to make a significant difference in people’s lives. She is currently in her final year at Deakin University, studying a Bachelor of Criminology, majoring in Sociology.

      Sila’s experience with WEYA’s in-school programs and working with students and communities, has fostered her interest in youth work and hopes to become a positive influence in young people’s lives.

      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’.

    • Vanessa Gustilo

      Vanessa Gustilo

      Vanessa-Gail Gustilo is a film and stage artist. She has been an extra in many different Australian television shows, and has worked as an art director, costume designer, production manager, cinematographer and assistant director. Born and raised in Melbourne, she studied and graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts. Being a creative she loves to add to her blogs which go from short stories, contemporary art projects and photography.

      Vanessa joined Footscray Edge in 2017 and performed in her first play with the company entitled The Wall (2017). In 2018 she played the lead role in Footscray Edge’s Lele, Butterfly (2018), an adaptation of the Greek play Antigone. She was also the costume designer for Lele, Butterfly.

      “If you are brave enough to share your soul with the audience, they’ll find more connection and value with the play as a whole” – Unknown

  • Alumni

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Alain Bakulikira

      Alain Bakulikira

      Alain Bakulikira is a community leader, actor, singer and educator. He is currently working as a teacher’s aid, supporting young people with special needs, as well as working as an peer facilitator with Western Edge Youth Arts.

      Alain is a youth leader at the Kadinia Swahilli Church, where he is also a part of the church choir along with his sisters. Alain was born in the Congo, grew up in Kenya, and came to Australia with his family when he was 14. He has trained as a cabinet maker and carpenter and also started an engineering degree, but recently deferred to continue working to supporting his family. He hopes to return to university to study medicine, and take his skills back to Africa. About his experience with WEYA, Alain says, ‘I had something I wanted to show people and I didn’t know how, and Western Edge showed me a way. It’s been an opportunity to share stories, and learn some other people’s stories. It’s been quite a journey for me.’

    • 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.’

    • Craig Gunguta

      Craig Gunguta

      Dancer, actor, musician and peer 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 his love for music.

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

      Read our Passionate Pathways feature on Craig here.

    • Ebony McGuire

      Ebony McGuire

      Ebony McGuire graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts with a Certificate IV in Aboriginal Theatre, playing various workshopped roles while at WAAPA. In 2014 Ebony performed at The Blue Room in What Do They Call Me? directed by Eva Mullaley, and also worked as a workshop facilitator in the Culture 2.0 | Respecting Yourself | Respect Your Culture workshop program with Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.

      Continuing her relationship with Yirra Yaakin, in 2015 Ebony performed in Kep Kaatijin directed by Ian Wilkes and worked with a team of artists in developing the Shakespeare Sonnets in Noongar workshop. She also performed in The Fever and The Fret, with Yirra Yaakin, written by Jub Clerc, directed by Kyle Morrison. 

      In 2017, Ebony played various roles for the Coranderrk National Tour with Ilbijerri Theatre Company and most recently, she played the role of Irene Adler/Sally Barak with wit incorporated, in A Scandal In The Weimar, and played Lou in Outside In by Hilary Beaton.

    • Irene Bakulikira

      Irene Bakulikira

      Irene is an actress, 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 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.

    • Kiril Stamenkov

      Kiril Stamenkov

      Kiril is a dedicated performer, writer and aspiring director who was born and raised in Macedonia. He moved to Australia in 2010 and found his passion for acting after performing in high school plays. Kiril attended acting classes at Mooregrace Acting Studio in Geelong and later attained a diploma in Film and TV Production at JMC Academy in 2017.

      In 2018, Kiril joined Western Edge Youth Arts’ Geelong Edge ensemble. He played Haemon in Antigone and co-wrote and performed in North Geelong Edge’s original comedy piece Share House to a full house at Courthouse Youth Arts. In his spare time, Kiril enjoys working on comedy sketches and hopes to one day make it to the big screen.

       

    • 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.

    • 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 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, 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.

    • May Saba Sabet

      May Saba Sabet

      May Saba Sabet is an artist, devisor, director, and peer 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 Johannesburg, 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.

       

    • Obi Jamshadi

      Obi Jamshadi

      Obaidulla Jamshidi, or Obi, as he likes to be known, 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 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’.

    • 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).

    • 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.

    • Shinaya Tuari

      Shinaya Tuari

      Actress 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. She works part time at a bakery and a super market, and freelances as a makeup artist. She loves going to the gym and besides being an actor, also wouldn’t mind being a fitness model.

       

    • 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 was 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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

    • Krystalla Pearce

      Teaching Artist

      Krystalla Pearce

      Teaching Artist

      Krystalla Pearce is an Australian theatre maker and teaching artist. She has been trained in teaching artistry and aesthetic education at Lincoln Center Education and Community-Word Project in New York City. She has devised theatre workshops in New Delhi, been involved in community building workshops in Indigenous Australian communities, and has completed artist residencies across New York City. 

      Krystalla is the co-founder and co-Artistic Director of Rat King Theatre, an experimental theatre company that tells stories through words, bodies and food. Krystalla’s performance work has been presented in Australia, and internationally in Greece, Mexico, and the USA including at The Brick, The Wild Project, PERFORMA15, The island_resignified,The Mother Theater Project, and Dixon Place. 

    • Katherine Branch

      Teaching Artist - Design

      Katherine Branch

      Teaching Artist - Design

      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).

    • 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).

    • 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.

    • Reuben Zalme

      Teaching Artist

      Reuben Zalme

      Teaching Artist

      Reuben Zalme studied Theatre Arts at Swinburne’s David William’s Theatre. In his final year he worked with some of Australia’s most experienced circus performers and trainers from Kymberlyn “Kim Kaos” Olsen to Andrea Ousley in a performance that won the “Best Circus Award” in the Melbourne Fringe Festival that year. After obtaining his Theatre Arts degree he was accepted into the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA). Under the Masterful tutelage of Moscow State Circus Performer and Expert Clown Ludwig Schukin, Zalme became the second person in the school’s history to specialise as a Clown. At the school he was also trained by Matthew Daniels in Chinese pole and Earl Shatford in Juggling. After receiving his Bachelor in Circus Arts Reuben performed at festivals including the Woodford Folk Festival, Melbourne Juggling Convention, Tasmanian Circus Festival, New Zealand’s Circulation Circus Festival, Spin Festival to both Melbourne and Perth’s Fringe Festival. In 2013 he studied in France at the world renowned “Ecole Philipe Gaulier” Theatre and Clown School for the summer.

    • 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.

    • 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

      Acting Coach

      Naomi Rukavina

      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).

    • 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.