Independent Theatre Panel
John Marc Desengano - Panel Co-Chair
JOHN MARC DESENGANO is a Filipino born actor, improviser and educator. Upon graduating from The University of Ballarat, Arts Academy in 2008, John Marc has performed in many theatre productions around Melbourne and internationally. A few of John Marc’s stage credits include; The Yellow Wave, Love Bird, The Bachelor S17 E05, Survival, RUR 2020, Just A Boy Standing in Front of a Girl, NomNomNom, A Midnight Visit, and many more. He also performed in The Dead Twin, written by Chi Vu, at the Georgetown Festival in Malaysia. His TV credits include Rush, Playing for Keeps S2 and Back in Very Small Business. John Marc is a proud company member of Impro Melbourne and Soothplayers: Completely Improvised Shakespeare. He also works as a teaching artist and lead artist at St. Martin’s Youth Theatre and Western Edge Youth Arts respectively.
Alice Qin - Panel Co-Chair
ALICE QIN is a Melbourne based theatremaker, actor, educator, and occasional Dinosaur puppeteer (Erth Visual Physical/Melbourne Zoo 2019). She was the associate director on Golden Shield (MTC 2019) and she was a participant in the MTC CAAP directing initiative. Her Australian acting credits include Mad As A Cute Snake (Theatre Works 2019), Atomic (Malthouse Theatre 2018/2019), Little Emperors (Malthouse Theatre 2017). She was previously based in New York, where she worked as an actor and an associate physical acting teacher at the Stella Adler Studio New York under the tutelage of Joan Evans. Theatre credits in New York include Is It already Dusk? (Herald Clurman Ensemble/Irondale Theatre, New York 2013). Romeo and Juliet/Richard II/Love’s Labour’s Lost (Hamlet Isn’t Dead 2015). She is a current teaching artist at St. Martins Youth Arts Centre, and House of Muchness.
ANNE-MARIE PEARD has been a Melbourne-based independent theatre critic, arts writer and editor since 2006. Before that, she spent many years working in festivals and arts event management in Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne. She has written for The Age, Time Out, Arts Hub, The Music and specialist arts publications, and has the long-running blog called Sometimes Melbourne. She also teaches and mentors arts journalism and criticism.
LARA WEEK is a designer for performance and creative producer. Her design credits include The Cane (Red Stitch Actors Theatre), ANNA (La Mama Courthouse), Caliban (Western Edge Youth Arts, Malthouse Theatre), 3 Sisters (Metanoia Theatre), South Sudan Voice (Free Theatre), Night Sings Its Songs (La Mama Theatre), and two seasons of Samah Sabawi’s award-winning play Tales Of A City By The Sea (La Mama Courthouse) which she co-produced in 2016 with Daniel Clark and toured to Adelaide, Sydney, and Kuala Lumpur. In 2019 she produced and designed the premiere season of Samah Sabawi’s play THEM at La Mama Courthouse, directed by Bagryana Popov. THEM was shortlisted for the NSW and Victorian Premiere’s Literary Awards, nominated for four Green Room awards, and remounted in 2021 as part of the VCE Drama Playlist. From 2011 Lara was associate producer for Tribal Soul Arts, working with Patrice Naiambana to produce decolonial arts programs and performances in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the Netherlands, UK, and Australia.
YVONNE VIRSIK is the Artistic Director of MUST (Monash Uni Student Theatre, MSA) where she has produced many works and directed pieces such as Christopher Bryant’s Disinhibition, Spring Awakening: the musical, Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, Declan Greene’s BOG and Laugh Out Loud; and mentored hundreds of emerging theatre makers. As a freelance director, Yvonne has worked with companies including Malthouse Theatre, MTC, MKA, La Mama, Red Stitch and St. Martins. She is a graduate of the VCA and was part of the Women Directors' Program at MTC. Directing credits include Bucket's List by Sarah Collins (Tiki Tour Award Melbourne Fringe); Darragh Martin's An Air Balloon Across Antarctica (Edinburgh Fringe) and Adam Cass’ I Love You, Bro (Malthouse & UK tour). Yvonne adapted and directed the Australian debut of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale and created an Ibsen mash-up with Nora and Hedda. She is vice president of the Australian Women Directors Alliance.
DANNY DELAHUNTY is a theatre director, producer and arts manager with a deep commitment to the independent arts sector. As the Head of Programs & Projects at Melbourne Fringe Danny manages the key front-facing programs, supporting the creative and professional development of indie artists in Melbourne and beyond. In his past three years at Fringe, Danny has facilitated the presentation of well over a thousand independent seasons of work, assisting the 7,000+ artists involved with the skills and tools to stage their work for Melbourne audiences. Prior to Fringe Danny worked as a theatre director and freelance producer, presenting over 50 seasons of work in Melbourne, interstate and internationally, either with his theatre company Attic Erratic or as a freelance creative with other indie theatre companies.
JAYA BERGED is an independent theatre-maker, reviewer and coach. Formerly a lawyer, she has been performing on stage since 2007 in New Delhi and since 2016 in Melbourne. She is the founder of Berged Theatre (formerly known as The Day Dream) and also runs Playground | Be You, a creative self-care community for adults. She has written and produced several original plays (including Ophelia's Inner Monologue, Parenthesis, and The Next Logical Step), trained actors through hundreds of workshop sessions in New Delhi, Melbourne, and online, and also mentors creatives one-on-one. She reviews live theatre, comedy, music, and other shows at her website. Jaya is neurodivergent and passionate about mental health, and is currently studying counselling.
MONIQUE GRBEC is a writer, critic and text based multidisciplinary artist. A child of the Stolen Generations, she is currently working on ‘The Wall Remix: Speaking Truths’ a First Nations reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s 1979 rock opera ‘The Wall’, and is a producer at Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival.
JINGHUA QIAN is a Shanghainese-Melburnian writer and critic. Eir work appears in The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Overland, Meanjin, and Peril, and on ABC TV. Jinghua lives in Melbourne's west on the land of the Kulin Nations. jinghuaqian.com | @qianjinghua
EMILY TOMLINS is the co-founder and co-artistic director of the award winning independent theatre company Elbow Room. She has worked as an actor, creator, collaborator and director with various companies and festivals including Elbow Room, Polyglot Theatre, Playable Streets, VIMH, JOF, Musica Viva, STC, QT, La Boite, SA STC, Malthouse, Terrapin Puppet Theatre, MTC’’s Neon Festival, the Melbourne, Darwin, Perth, Poppyseed and Flight Festivals, Fabricated Rooms, Everybody Dance, Collyer/Kerridge, Darebin Arts Speakeasy, Restaged Histories Project, Qld Arts Council, Bell Shakespeare Actors at Work, Four Larks, Daniel Schlusser Ensemble and The Hayloft Project. Emily was part of the QT’s Emerging Artist Ensemble in 2006 and in 2017 she was awarded a Sidney Myer Fellowship. She is currently Associate Director at Polyglot Theatre.
KEITH GOW is a playwright, screenwriter and theatre critic. He's been a playwright for fifteen years and has been writing theatre reviews for a decade, starting on his blog and later published at AussieTheatre, Beat Magazine and Witness Performance. His play Who Are You Supposed to Be premiered at Edinburgh Fringe in 2013 and was later performed in London, Melbourne, Adelaide and Albury. He co-wrote and co-Executive Produced the six- part supernatural drama series Sonnigsburg for Channel 31 in Melbourne. It was broadcast Australia-wide and now lives on YouTube.
KEITH BROCKETT is a Melbourne-based actor, theatre-maker, and co-founder of indie theatre company The KIN Collective. His stage credits include the off-Broadway hit Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic, Will Eno’s one-man show Title and Deed, Happy Ending for MTC, and national tours of The Yellow Wave by Jane Miller and Porcelain by Chay Yew. A series regular in the TV cult hits The Librarians and Ronny Chieng: International Student, his other recent screen credits include New Gold Mountain, The Newsreader, Metro Sexual, Five Bedrooms, Seven Types of Ambiguity, and True Story with Hamish and Andy.
AIV PUGLIELLI works across disciplines in an independent and collaborative cultural practice, as a storyteller, composer and sound designer. A strong community advocate, he currently stands in the 60th Victorian Parliament (Legislative Council) as an MP for the North-Eastern Metropolitan Region. He navigates forms including static installations, film and theatre, using the conduit of sound to straddle common themes including human interaction and our connection with technology, gravitating between spaces of contemporary art music, experimental sound art and improvising ensembles. He seeks to connect his arts practice with its historic role of galvanising community to shared values and driving change in rigid societal systems. Aiv recently undertook the Besen Family Artist Program at Malthouse Theatre in Sound Design & Composition, as well as holding a Diploma from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and a Bachelor degree from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), in addition to completing intensive-based training with the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (Rome) and mentorship with the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO).
FLICK is an artist and independent producer. Under FLICKFLICKCITY, Flick looks to produce new Australian works that are bold and glittery. In Naarm, they’ve produced works with Theatre Works, Motley Bauhaus, Midsumma Festival, Melbourne Fringe, and Frenzy Theatre Co. Flick is also a writer, with their most recent show SLUTNIK™ presented at both Midsumma and Melbourne Fringe in 2022. Flick’s written repertoire has appeared on stages in Melbourne, Sydney and Los Angeles, and developed/produced by the likes of ATYP, Nightingale Content, Katie Rowe, & Queerspace Arts. As a queer and disabled artist, they aim to honour their communities through radical accessibility and representative creative teams within the arts. Flick is currently studying a Master of Theatre (Dramaturgy) at the Victorian College of the Arts, is a member of the Green Room Theatre Independent Theatre Panel, and a writer in the 2022/23 Theatre Works SheWrites Collective.
SAVANNA WEGMAN is a designer, director and writer based in Naarm (Melbourne). She is Co-founder of the STRANGEkit Performance Collective and her work spans across live, digital and hybrid mediums. Recent projects include: Set and Costume Designer 'Brittany and the Mannequins' (Fever103), Set and Costume Design Associate ‘The Mermaid’ (La Mama), AudioVisual Designer ‘Kill Climate Deniers’ (Monash Uni Student Theatre), Design Associate ‘The Dream Laboratory’ (Essential Theatre), AudioVisual Production Designer ‘WE ARE AIR’ (Melbourne Fringe), Visual Designer 'Ant(e)room' (Melbourne Design Week). Savanna completed her Bachelor of Arts at Monash University’s Centre for Theatre and Performance in 2021.
KATRINA CORNWELL is a theatre director, performance maker and actor with a passion for collaboration and challenging the theatre form. She is co-Artistic Director of Rawcus and was co-founder of indie companies Riot Stage and The People. She has worked throughout Australia and toured internationally. Recent work includes: When The Human Engine Waits (Rawcus/ Midsumma/ State Library Victoria); A Resourceful Hero Struggling Against Incredible Odds (Rawcus/ Midsumma/ Malthouse, 22); Life Changing Show (La Mama / War-rak Festival); Us (St Martins, 2021); Everyone Is Famous (Riot Stage/Darebin Speakeasy/Next Wave, 2021); Grand Gesture (The People/La Mama, 2021); Green Room Award-nominated A Disorganised Zoom Reading of the Script from Contagion (The People/Melbourne Fringe, 2020); Whale (Darebin Speakeasy/MLIVE Fest, 2019); award-nominated Lovely Mess (Riot Stage/Melbourne Fringe/FOLA, 2018), The Bachelor S17E05 (La Mama, 2018); Death Match (Monash University/Malthouse Tower) and F. (Riot Stage/ Poppyseed Festival), which was featured on ABC’s 7.30 Report.
JULIAN DIBLEY-HALL is the Co-Artistic Director of VIMH, and works as a director, performer, dramaturg and producer. He is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and his practice focuses primarily on developing and presenting new theatrical works. In 2023 Julian is producing VIMH’s major project, The Grief Trilogy by Liv Satchell, which is being presented at La Mama Courthouse. Julian’s most recent directing project was The View From Up Here by Fiona Spitzkowsky for VIMH at Theatre Works in 2022. He’s currently the dramaturg on two interdisciplinary works by director Belinda Locke - Under My Tongue, which will be presented at Brunswick Mechanics Institute in July 2023, and Everyday Acts of Disobedience which is in development. Julian is a founding member of Sustainable Theatres Australia, he’s been making theatre since 1997, and is a proud member of MEAA.
LEIGH LULE is a Ugandan-Australian actress, writer, and theater maker based in Naarm. She joined Western Edge Arts in 2018, writing and performing theater works as a member of the ‘Sub-30 Collective’, including ‘TIG’ (2018), ‘THE WATCHING’ (2019) and ‘THE RETREAT’ (2020). As a company artist, she also collaboratively devises and delivers drama workshops for young people throughout Melbourne’s Western suburbs. Other stage credits include ‘POINT8SIX’ (2022) and ‘Trophy Boys’ (2022/2023). She also assistant-directed Liv Satchell’s ‘let bleeding girls lie’ (2021), which represented Australia at the Women Playwrights International Conference, as well as Satchell’s anthology, ‘The Grief Trilogy’ (2023). Leigh is the co-creator/co-writer of upcoming web-series ‘CEEBS’, which has received developmental support from Screen Australia, SBS’ Digital Originals, and ABC iView’s Pitch-O-Rama. Other screenwriting credits include ABC ME’s ‘Turn Up The Volume’ (2022) and comedy short-film ‘Checkmate, Atheists’ (2021).
RACHEL LEE is a lighting designer and artist with a design-led practice based in Naarm and Singapore. She works primarily with new writing and is the co-creator of theatre collective MASHH. Her work spreads across various performing arts mediums and organisations in technical or design capacities. Rachel’s practice evolved out of her interest in how spaces are subjective through political, societal and economical lenses (and in turn, how light can transform these spaces). Through creation and response, Rachel explores that notion in the visual spaces she creates. Her designs with independent groups, companies and festivals including Melbourne Theatre Company; Malthouse Theatre; Stephanie Lake Company; Quiet Riot Creative Pty Ltd; Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre; Western Edge Youth Arts; AsiaTOPA; RISING:; Brighton Festival; Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Yirramboi, Midsumma, International and National Major Festivals & Fringe Circuits and various installation works across Flash Forward (City of Melbourne). She creates work in Singapore and tours internationally as part of her body of work. Awards include Best Production (Green Room) for 落叶归根 (Luò yè guī gēn) Getting Home.
AMARACHI LOGO is an Igbo Nigerian-born actor, spoken word poet and playwright, who grew up in Auckland and is now based in Naarm/Melbourne. Amarachi joined Western Edge in 2017, performing in Caliban as part of the Edge Ensemble and is now one of the Artistic Associates . Recent acting credits include This (RISING), Burning Love (Playlist Live), The Human Voice, A Disorganised Zoom Reading of Contagion, the audio play Watching (Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre), Seers (Playlist Live), The Watching with Western Edge, and Future Echoes: Edge Ensemble at Arts Centre Melbourne. She also appeared on ABC Melbourne as part of the Homespun storytelling gala. As an emerging playwright, Amarachi was shortlisted for the 2021 Griffin Award. In 2021, she was selected for Melbourne Theatre Company’s First Stage program, Australian Theatre for Young People’s National Studio program, Malthouse Theatre’s Besen Writers Group and TheatreWorks' She Writes Collective.