Western Sydney’s own stories inspire students and teachers

1-1-Passion Purpose Meaning Flyer - Schools - Blog imageThanks to the support of Dane Ropa, deputy principal of a northern beaches high school, emails were sent last week to almost 200 high school librarians across west and south west Sydney. “Students of creative arts, Australian history, cultural and political studies will find inspiration and vital information in Katherine Knight’s book Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western Sydney (Halstead Press 2013). Since 2014, the stories have continued in her blog – Western Sydney Frontier.”

Dane, who grew up in western Sydney and aims to bring his professional skills back to the region in the future, says “Katherine’s book and blog connect young people to their own, often unknown, cultural history. It clearly shows how they can develop skills to effect change in their community. This deeper understanding of their history helps anchor our talented young people in the fabric of western Sydney and offers a critical chance to impact on the future of the region.”

Dane Ropa 2Dane, left, is a music teacher and former head teacher, faculty of arts, at Cumberland High School. His own leadership and enthusiasm is a great motivator of students and teachers to respond to challenges and help them understand and motivate others. He is coordinator of the NSW Public Schools Millennium Marching Band and a board member of Ars Musica Australis.

Within an hour of sending the email to high school libraries, the first orders were coming in. One teacher librarian responded, “As the theme for Book Week this year is: Australia – Story Country, I think your work would be a perfect match! Would you consider talking to a group of students?” The idea of talking to four groups of Year 11 boys is rapidly taking shape under the title Passion and Purpose – Making a Difference. While the inspiration comes from arts and cultural experience across the region, the application of lessons learned in seeing the big picture, setting goals, developing strategies, maintaining enthusiasm and working as a team has value across unlimited subject areas. Associate Professor Elaine Lally of UTS says exposure to book and blog, “enables students to access sources of their own creativity and leadership potential, through engaging with the powerful stories of personal and professional growth of diverse role models within their home region. Students will hear how other people pursued their passions from a young age, in the face of social, cultural and economic conditions that might not have been the most favorable.”

It’s a challenging time for the arts. Recent savage federal funding cuts are affecting artists of all disciplines and small and medium arts companies across western Sydney. Already they have developed a level of resourcefulness and resilience, which will help them survive, but it will take even more powerful advocacy, creative thinking and commitment to get through.

Message me through my Facebook page – Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western Sydney – or use the Reply button at the end of this post if you would like more information about the book, blog or talks to groups.


Inspirational arts, science and social engagement at Penrith Regional Gallery

Penrith R Gallery - Gravity (and Wonder) AmyScience and the arts combine in a mutually inspiring exploration that will culminate in an exhibition at Penrith Regional Gallery in 2016. The gallery is the recipient of the $40,000 Inaugural Dobell Exhibition Grant for the development of Gravity (and Wonder). The exhibition will be a
collaboration with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS). Gravity (and Wonder) will explore the history and philosophy of this fundamental law of the universe through contemporary art and related objects, instruments and papers in the MAAS collection.

The exhibition, scheduled for 28 August – 21 November 2016, will introduce audiences to new ways of thinking about the multi-dimensionality of matter, time and space through a range of loaned and newly commissioned sculptural and kinetic works. More than a dozen contemporary artists will participate in the presentation of new and existing works. Contributing artists already include, Richard Serra, Timothy Cook, Amy Joy Watson, Sandra Selig, David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. The image above is Amy Joy Watson’s Floating Sequence 2012, balsa wood, watercolour, gouache, polyester thread, lead weights, balloons, helium. Courtesy the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide.

Penrith R Gallery - David Haines - Violet GasAn array of public programs will accompany the exhibition such as ‘Gravity Geeks’, a symposium with artists, curators and scientists, and collaborations with the Western Sydney University Observatory staff and students. David Haines and Joyce Hinterding are Blue Mountains based artists whose research into the sounds made by rocks was recently video recorded by the Sydney Morning Herald. Not long before, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Sydney hosted Energies: Haines & Hinterding, a survey of the extraordinary range of scientific ideas and metaphors they work with. Left is David’s contribution, Violet Gas, to the Penrith Gallery’s recent exhibition Hot House. David has been creating complex chemical formulas for almost a decade as he explores aroma.

Collaboration, exploration and community engagement have proved richly rewarding for Penrith Regional Gallery this month. Not only did the gallery win the inaugural Dobell Grant, it also won the engagement category at the IMAGinE awards for their ground breaking City of Plenty project. The City of Plenty was an evolving art installation with a social conscience. Artist Sarah Goffman constructed a city made from donated non-perishable food and household consumables in the main gallery, see photo below. She worked with project partners, Ozharvest and Penrith Community Kitchen and with students from Caroline Chisholm College. Museums & Galleries of NSW‘s IMAGinE awards recognise the people who work in museums and galleries across NSW and the contributions they make.

The 2016 round of the Dobell Exhibition Grant was assessed by a panel of three – Michelle Belgiorno, trustee and Paula Latos-Valier, art director of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation and Michael Rolfe, CEO of the Museums and Galleries Association of NSW, which will manage the grant. Continuing the themes of creative collaborations, science, mentoring, conversations and social interactions, Michael will open Penrith Regional Gallery’s next suite of exhibitions on Saturday, December 5. The major exhibition goes under the title Deborah Kelly – Bodies of Work, first created for the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) – No Human Being is Illegal (In All Our Glory). The second exhibition will be Networks – Communication Highways – brain imaging, Brain Sciences, UNSW.

The third is Queen Street Riches and Textures 2015 – Sharing the Seeds. Each year, supported by Penrith Council, St Mary’s Corner produces a Queen Street Riches and Textures project by inviting artists to explore issues relevant to Penrith R Gallery - City of Plenty - winthe local community through different artistic media. The 2015 Sharing the Seeds project has brought together artists, art educators, local gardeners and farmers. They are creatively exploring innovation and sustainability in community gardening and growing your own food. Partners include Mamre House, Permaculture Sydney West, TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute Nepean Arts and Design Centre, and Penrith Council.

It is now more than 40 years since Penrith Council began its pioneering role in developing arts opportunities for its residents. Despite many claims to the contrary, Penrith Council was the first council in western Sydney to employ a community arts officer (1976). It was the first to provide a permanent home for the professional Q Theatre company (1977) and the first to accept responsibility for a regional gallery. The Lewers Bequest.and Penrith Regional Gallery (now the Penrith Regional Gallery and Lewers Bequest) was officially opened in 1981. The gallery is at 86 River Rd, Emu Plains NSW 2750, phone 02 4735 1100.

Blog - PPM book coverThere are endless fascinating stories behind the flourishing arts scene of present day western Sydney. Many are recorded in my book Passion Purpose Meaning – Arts Activism in Western Sydney. It makes a great gift and some very pleasurable holiday reading. Click here for information about where you can buy copies. Among the outlets are Campelltown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Penrith Regional Gallery, Blacktown Arts Centre, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery and Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. “. . . Its messages have resonances far beyond western Sydney” – Dr Peter Shergold, Chancellor of Western Sydney University.


Self help and mutual support are key components of region’s theatre development

1-Team Australia - PYT A wealth of activity in theatre making continues around the region. Two recent youth theatre productions have demonstrated the diversity of theatre making and the people involved in its creation in western Sydney. After 18 months of weekly workshops developing their self-devised show, Powerhouse Youth Theatre presented Team Australia: Stories from Fairfield, left, last month. After warnings that it was intimate, irreverent and deeply political, it seemed surprising that it wasn’t a more blatant political satire, given that “Team Australia” was a favourite slogan of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Maybe that was a benefit. That Prime Minister had only just lost power and the issues of concern to the young people involved were undoubtedly political in other ways – education, immigration, and the rights and opportunities for young women, among them. As with the problem of a simplistic slogan, Team Australia proved an unruly bunch, who never quite corresponded to the expectations of their trainers. An absorbing experience.

Outsiders - Johnny - Ivan HuiThen Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) Youth Theatre, presented their western Sydney adaptation of the 1967 American novel by S E Hinton The Outsiders. It was an ambitious undertaking involving a cast and production team of 60 and engaging local talent and others from metropolitan Sydney, all between the ages of 15 and 25. The Outsiders was the Youth Theatre’s contribution to CPAC’s 21st birthday celebrations and a substantial achievement. Some of the core performers already have fine acting credentials and there were some excellent performances. Perhaps the role that sticks most in my memory is that of Johnny, played by Ivan Hui, above. Ivan provided a convincing portrait of a vulnerable teenager who had been severely bullied, but whose loyalty and commitment to Ponyboy carries them both through dark times.

Outsiders - Ponyboy - Sam NasserPonyboy himself, played by Sam Nasser from Sir Joseph Banks High School, was very credible as a 14 year old with an unusual interest in literature and a flair for keen observation and writing. It’s unfair to single out performers, but among the girls, Ariel Kozelj impressed with her independence and steady demeanor as Cherry, an “insider” who had witnessed the conflict at the centre of the drama.

CPAC Youth Theatre also fosters a close relationship with a specialist school for local students. Campbell House School is a school for specific purposes at Glenfield, which is preparing for their first creative arts festival. CPAC Youth Theatre arranged a fundraising screening of the classic film The Outsiders, with the support of Westfield and Event Cinemas, Liverpool, with proceeds to the school to develop the festival.

Emu Heights TC moves out 1015In the Penrith area Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School at Emu Plains has been the beneficiary of another local theatre company. Emu Heights Theatre Company is steadily dismantling after five years of a successful program of public productions and workshops tailored for schools. Director Ian Zammit posted photos, left, to EHTC’s Facebook page of the bump-out and farewell to sets and props from Penrith Lock-Up Storage, on Saturday, October 31. He says, “Thankfully we were able to send all our set-pieces and materials to people who will get the most out of it. We are delighted that the legacy of Emu Heights Theatre will continue with bright young creatives in the region: we wish the students and teachers at Nepean many years of usage out of them!”

1-Theatre Links #11Ian is also the founder and administrator of Theatre Links in the West. It is open to professionally-minded theatre arts practitioners and supporters of all levels of experience, based in or working from Western Sydney. From the November meeting, he reported, “Electric discussion on the topic of leadership, with several local & freelance performing artists attending, as well as representation for Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School, Ruby Productions and the Acting Factory.”

Among the topics raised were:

• the need in wider western Sydney culture for our own theatre artists and stories, reflecting the most vibrant cultures from around the world, to be recognised as a vital force for social cohesion and change
• a need for a local theatre hub / venue for networking that also provides access and support for local theatre-makers and companies
• tertiary education for theatre professionals in western Sydney, given growing performing arts school student populations
• more robust and connected career path advice and leadership for theatre arts in primary and secondary schools

Q Lab 15 - Kay Armstrong - If We Are MadThe page also carries notice of Q Lab ’16, for which submissions close, November 20. During the first half of 2016 Q Theatre at Penrith will support four independent artists or groups of artists in the development of a new project. Right is Kay Armstrong, If We Are Mad, Q Lab ’15.

Finally, anyone interested in theatre making is invited to attend Theatre Links in the West’s final gathering for the year. It will be a relaxed and informal dinner at Michidora Korean BBQ Restaurant, Penrith, on Tuesday 1 December at 6.30-9 pm. Detail and bookings, click here.

Have you ever found a feather – a Gaurii – and wondered whose it was?

Wagana - Gaurii - Boobook OwlsFrom a very early age, in their traditional upbringing, Aboriginal children learn to be very acute observers of the natural world around them. They learn to understand the seasonal variations in the behaviour of birds and animals and the plants on which they depend for food and shelter. They learn to imitate movement and sound and to enter into the meaning of each of these beings in their lore.

Wagana - Gaurii - Nest - 4All this came home to me as I watched the opening scenes of Wagana Aboriginal Dancers‘ latest production Have you ever found a feather and wondered whose it was . . . Gaurii. Choreographed by director Jo Clancy, assisted by Becky Chatfield, five dancers – Jo, Becky, Nadia Martich, Michaela Jeffries and Brad Smith were presenting a final version of a 35 to 40 minute show they plan to present at schools and festivals in 2016. They were performing at NAISDA Dance College, Kariong, near Gosford, on September 30, where Jo was completing a Birrang Creative Residency. With a few brief remarks that introduced the audience to their characters, they launched into a graceful and entertaining performance as a flock of crows. Humour was never far from the surface as the birds performed separately and in unison.

Wagana - Gaurii - Matilda, Maude & MurphyThe basic black of their costumes could quickly transform to other birds with the addition of feather trims around arms, waists, or as masks. In the photo top, the girls were rehearsing as boobook owls. A giant nest woven from sticks and vines provided their main versatile prop, see rehearsal photos above right and at bottom. We found ourselves listening to sounds and songs of the bush and laughed at the antics of emu chicks Matilda, Maude and Murphy, above left.

Wagana Aboriginal Dancers are based at Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains and many friends and family members had travelled a long way to see the production. Jo was keen to have feedback to ensure the production would appeal to children in particular. She was left in no doubt that audiences loved Gaurii. If children hadn’t been aware of birds and their behaviour before seeing the show, there is little doubt that their interest and observation would have been sharpened after seeing the performance. By October 14, shows at schools before Christmas were already almost booked out.

Gaurii Wagana - Gaurii - Nestpresents Aboriginal dance, puppetry, language and stories connected to Crow, Emu, Lyrebird, and Owl with music and sound that convey many more birds. School shows are on Thursday and Friday, December 10 and 11 and there will be many more next year. Phone 0409 651 290.

A history of altruism, realism and pragmatism in Penrith’s commitment to the arts

1-Ann Martin 1994Twenty four hours after my April 27 post about the Deloitte report Building Western Sydney’ Cultural Arts Economy – a key to Sydney’s success, Facebook registered nearly 1500 people reached. The Deloitte report states, “Today western Sydney represents 1 in 10 Australians yet attracts only 1% of Commonwealth arts program funding, and 5.5% of the state’s cultural arts, heritage and events funding” – despite having 30% of NSW’s population. The arguments for greater investment are economic. It’s a hot topic for people in western Sydney. Former CEO of the 1990’s Creative Cultures, Ann Martin responded from Wollongong, “What again? I have copies of the final report into Creative Cultures, National pilot for regional cultural development…. funded by Australia Council and Arts NSW late 90s…specifically to seek equity in funding and opportunity for participation in arts and cultural activity in the Greater West. Its outrageous that history is repeating itself in spite of the history of advocacy and years of research and work by local government and the arts and cultural sector in Western Sydney…..” In the photo above, Ann at Creative Cultures’ 1994 forum at Riverside Theatres, Celebrating Cultures – Popular Myths and Realities.

Hania Radvan 2015In the Deloitte report, major upgrades were recommended to existing venues at Liverpool, Penrith, Parramatta, Campbelltown, Blacktown and possibly Bankstown. Among them was a $15 million upgrade to the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and Penrith Regional Gallery, jointly managed by the non-profit company Penrith Performing and Visual Arts and largely funded by Penrith Council, with support from Arts NSW. To meet the needs of a fast growing population, both venues need new performance spaces, updated equipment, cafe and food facilities. A Sydney Morning Herald story quoted PPVA chief executive Hania Radvan, right, as saying, “We don’t want hollow promises or shiny white elephants – we are realists and pragmatists. We want to fix what we have and make it work harder, addressing the gaps and deficiencies that are a consequence of old thinking in a rapidly changing social context.”

JSPAC 25 years 1Despite the gross inequity in funding, everyone involved in theatre, music and operations at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith, took part in ensuring community participation in an exuberant celebration of the centre’s 25th birthday, on Saturday, March 28.The Joan, as it is known locally, hosted Penrith Symphony Orchestra, Emu Heights Theatre Company, and Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School in the concert hall. Aspiring young musicians and vocalists from the associated Penrith Conservatorium of Music performed in studios, orchestral room, and on an outdoor stage. StudioQ tutors took children and young people through a range of free open classes and performances to gain a taste of theatre. In the photo above, seasoned professional actor Annette Emerton shares some secrets of the stage with Nepean CAPA HS student and assistant lighting and projection designer, Kodie Amos.

Penrith R Gallery -lewers-house-1956Penrith Council was the first council in western Sydney to provide major support for the arts. It appointed the region’s first community arts officer, Jean Kirby, in December 1975. She became a valuable mentor to Pat Parker, who was appointed CAO by Blacktown Council in May, 1977. By the time Jean left the position three years later, councillors were paying warm tribute for her contributions, including “assisting in the development of the Q Theatre, Penrith, the Music Centre, Penrith and plans for the Lewers Memorial Regional Art Gallery at Emu Plains.” The Q Theatre was the first professional theatre company to base itself in western Sydney and it was Penrith Council which offered it the use of the old Railway Institute building as their home. The Emu Plains home of the modernist artists, Margo and Gerald Lewers, seen in a 1956 photo above, was bequeathed to Penrith Council. It was opened as the first western Sydney regional art gallery in 1981.

Valda Silvy- Benemerenti Medal 2012Local resident, music director and curator Valda Silvy was the music director at Penrith Music Centre from 1978 to 1989. After its incorporation into the new Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Valda became general manager of the centre and head of the Penrith Conservatorium. The work continued to expand and by 2005, Q Theatre was incorporated into the centre. Valda was appointed music producer in 2011. Her devotion to music, community and the church was recognised by the Catholic church in 2012, right, with the award of the Benemerenti medal for long and exceptional service to the church and to the arts. (photo Alfred Boudib.) Valda acknowledges the work of many others in the development of music opportunities in the area, including the late Dr Allan Mullins, and Father Arthur Bridge through Ars Musica.

The Deloitte report recommends funding for a Western Sydney Conservatorium of Music which builds on the existing conservatorium, currently subsidised only by Penrith Council. An expanded role would also support the professionalisation and development of Penrith Symphony Orchestra. Since the closure of UWS Theatre Nepean in 2006 and other performing and visual arts courses at the university, tertiary education pathways in cultural and creative arts in the region have been severely constrained. Q’s producer Nick Atkins is frustrated that without such courses, local students don’t have ready access to further training, career pathways, challenging engagements generating new ideas and faster development of local opportunities.

1-Penrith R Gallery - City of PlentyThe report argues that investment in the cultural arts economy is an investment in the livability of a place. With the planned new western Sydney airport, more businesses will be established and knowledge and creative workers attracted. Arts publisher Katharine Brisbane said recently “Being an arts practitioner at all is a risky, uncomfortable business. But it offers special qualities that are intrinsic to a forward-looking creative society. Taking a risk is not foolhardy – it requires judgement, a clear understanding of Australia’s past and future investment, not just in finite resources like coal and oil but in the infinite resources of the thinking mind.”

At Penrith Regional Gallery exhibitions have been engaging community on ideas of sustainability for the future. Throughout March high school students worked with artist Sarah Goffman to construct a “city” made from donated non-perishable food and household consumables, above. They partnered with companies like Aldi, Campbell’s Australia and Freedom Foods to collect foods, reflecting on social responsibility and the wisdom of past reformers and thinkers. They established a City of Plenty Blog and reported a fund-raising dinner provided by Cafe at Lewers and served by hospitality students from Western Sydney TAFE. At the end of the month, the city was dismantled and the goods distributed to Penrith Community Kitchen and OzHarvest. More than $20,000 worth of goods was donated and funds from the City of Plenty Benefit Dinner went to providing an estimated 14,000 meals.

Penrith R Gallery - HomefrontThe current exhibition at the gallery is Home/Front – a 100 year commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign. Sustainability remains the theme of free workshops drawing on wartime austerity. Veggie Gardening for Beginners introduces planning and preparation for growing your own vegetables at home, on Sunday, May 17, from 10am to 12 noon. A week later Vintage and Preloved Fashion talks you through how learning from wartime thrift of “make do and mend” will help you find bargains, while being stylish and more sustainable at the same time. Free, but bookings essential. Phone 4735 1100 or email gallery@penrithcity.nsw.gov.au.

Sport for Jove and ICE celebrate success

1-SFJ dollshouse01Sport for Jove Theatre Company has achieved another milestone in its short but distinguished life. It is joining the Seymour Centre as a new resident theatre company alongside Critical Stages, SIMA and Shaun Parker & Company. The Seymour Centre is the performing arts centre for the University of Sydney and in its 35 year history has become an urban hub for cultural exploration, arts education and audience engagement. It hosts major festivals, large scale theatre, music and dance performances and partners small and emerging companies to develop and present innovative independent productions. Click here for more information.

SfJ - Damien RyanSport for Jove began with an outdoor Shakespeare Festival at Baulkham Hills and Leura in the Blue Mountains in 2009. The company was the brainchild of managing artistic director Damien Ryan, left, whose mother’s love of Shakespeare’s plays inspired him during his Mt Druitt childhood. A career in acting, directing and education, in both secondary and tertiary sectors, followed, in Australia and the UK. He taught at NIDA, worked with young artists in schools and authored Bell Shakespeare’s teacher kits. The partnership with the Seymour Centre began in June 2012, when Sport for Jove launched a major theatre education program for schools with a production of Hamlet. The photo above is from their critically acclaimed  2014 production of A Doll’s House at the Seymour Centre.

Damien says, “The exhaustive interrogation of thought and human behaviour in Shakespeare’s plays is honest, compassionate and it changes the way I think, the things I feel, and the way I see the world, and it does those things for all of us when that special connection comes in the theatre. His plays are fuelled by a faith that we like Prospero or like Cordelia have the capacity to change, to forgive and to tell the truth.”

SfJ - The Merchant of Ven 2015Clearly his vision has inspired others. Sport for Jove is a repertory theatre company, an actors’ company where everyone participates in creating the work and aspires to the highest standards. While their focus is on presenting unique and insightful productions of classical theatre, they are also dedicated to developing and producing new Australian plays. School students are clearly inspired by their experience of Sport for Jove productions and young people comprise a large and enthusiastic portion of all their audiences. In May this year, they will present a new production of The Merchant of Venice (see photo, left) at the Seymour Centre and Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, and then John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, at the Seymour Centre in July.

Champions of the West logoCelebrating their success in the recent Champions of the West awards conducted by The Daily Telegraph, is Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE), at Parramatta. ICE has been awarded $10,000 as winners of the Arts section for their Family Creative Hub.

The Hub is a family support program for recently arrived refugee and migrant mothers with preschool children living in Parramatta, Auburn and Holroyd. Families are supported in successful transition to life in western Sydney through mentorship and iPad-based creative learning that facilitates social inclusion, and builds their social, English and digital skills. ICE welcomes contact from female artists who speak more than one language, in particular Farsi and Hindi, and who are interested in working with families. Living in western Sydney is a plus. Please email eddie.abd@ice.org.au or call 9897 5744.

Celebrate summer with dreams, nightmares and magic in Sport for Jove’s theatre season

SfJ - In rehearsal for Crucible 3Join Sport for Jove Theatre Company this summer for a transformative journey through dreams and nightmares – a double bill of magic and the spirit world, and what happens when all hell breaks loose in the woods…

Since he began presenting The Sydney Hills Shakespeare in the Park programs at historic Bella Vista Farm five years ago, artistic director of Sport for Jove Theatre Company, Damien Ryan, dreamed of presenting The Crucible in the atmospheric old barn, which dates from the early 19th century. This year, Arthur Miller’s famous play opens there on December 12 and will continue through the Leura Shakespeare Festival until January 25.

Lizzie Schebesta, above, plays Abigail in The Crucible – photo: Seiya Taguchi.

Damien says “The barn is perfect for a play about the ways people fill their imaginations with things that scare them. I love that it feels remote from the day-to-day life of Sydney.” He says Arthur Miller “wanted The Crucible to be all-inclusive, more than just a comment on his times. He’s asking how does a society turn on and wipe out its women? Why do communities and nations poison their own democracies?”

SfJ - In rehearsal for Crucible 2While The Crucible is about the trial of The Witches of Salem in 1692, its themes of fear, hysteria, half truths, accusations and counter accusations, hidden agendas and religious intolerance have powerful contemporary relevance. Alongside is a rehearsal photo from the show.

SMH theatre critic Jason Blake says “Damien Ryan can marshal a fit and youthful ensemble better than just about anyone else in the country right now . . . clarity, energy, humour and invention are the hallmarks of Ryan’s style.”  Independent company Sport for Jove won plaudits at this year’s Sydney Theatre Awards. Damien directed Bell Shakespeare’s 2014 production of Henry V and played the role of the husband in Belvoir’s production of Nora earlier this year.

A new pro1-SfJ - Midsummer Night's Dream 2duction of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Susanna Dowling, is the Shakespearean component of the program and opens in The Hills on Friday, December 5. Alongside is a production photo by Seiya Taguchi.

In addition to these two plays, Sport for Jove is again presenting a Second Age Project developed with students in The Hills District. Will-I-Am will be seen for three nights at 5.30pm, from December 19 to 21. You are invited to “Follow the journey of William Shakespeare and 17 of his best students as they desperately try to save his complete works from ending up in the deep bosom of the ocean buried, and try to answer that age old question ‘why are we still studying these plays?'” It promises great fun and interest and is all part of the company’s continuing commitment to provide a bold, vigorous and inventive program of syllabus-based works for NSW students and teachers through its ‘Rough Magic’ Education Program . Click here for more detail.

Click here for more information about The Sydney Hills Shakespeare in the Park dates and bookings. Click here for more information about the Leura Shakespeare Festival dates and bookings.