Passion for theatre finds focus in Penrith

Ian ZammitThere’s energy and enterprise aplenty when theatre makers get together at Theatre Links, in Penrith, on the first Tuesday of every month. Initiated by Ian Zammit, left, of Emu Heights Theatre Company, Theatre Links gives western Sydney theatre people the chance to swap notes about productions, auditions and professional development opportunities. The atmosphere is totally informal and intended to provide simple face to face networking, which can produce some very fruitful connections.

Ian’s mild and unassuming manner belies a passionate commitment to theatre and his local community. He grew up in Emu Heights, pursued music and theatre studies and completed an honours degree at Middlesex University in the UK, in 2006. He returned to live in Penrith and from 2007 to 2012 had a key development role at Carriageworks arts centre in Redfern. At that point he took a gamble on working full time to develop Emu Heights 1-The Crucible - Emu Heights TC 2013Theatre Company with a group of local artists, teachers and business people. They are all committed to delivering high quality theatre experience to local students and the community and to developing a range of opportunities for them to become actively involved in creating their own theatrical expressions. Left is a scene from their 2013 production of The Crucible, presented at Penrith’s Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre.

Ian is inspired by the role of Q Theatre at Penrith, in the 1970s and 80s, when it was under the direction of Doreen Warburton. He is aware of the high quality of training and production offered by David Hollywood, when he ran his Blue Mountains company Out of the Blue in the early 2000s (see The Book). His vision finds support elsewhere in western Sydney, too. Sport for Jove‘s artistic and managing director, Damien Ryan says “Emu Heights Productions represent precisely the sort of the initiative this country and this region needs – home-grown, high-quality theatre drawn from and giving back to the local community too often starved of a representative voice that genuinely reflects their local space and culture, and access to classical theatre particularly”

Discus1-Theatre Links 0614sions at the June Theatre Links meeting, held 6pm at San Churro, Riley Street, Penrith, covered lots of ground including Emu Heights’ upcoming production of The Merchant of Venice, previous film work done by Leo Domigan for National Parks to introduce visitors to the convict built Great North Road, at Wisemans Ferry, and Steve Donelan’s role in Pygmalion, at Riverside Theatres. Freelancer David Attrill is working on an independent production based on one of Shakespeare’s most enduring characters and Sari Hickey is sharing her time between working for Henry Lawson Theatre and The Acting Factory. In the photo above, David Attrill, left, Leo Domigan, Katherine Knight, and Steve Donelan.

Theatre Links welcomes newcomers. The next meeting is Tuesday, July 1.



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