Catherine Simmonds 

Transforming people's lived experience into a powerful act of theatre in which everyone takes the lead role in their own story!

Selection of Works

Three Sides of the Coin 

Devised with people recovering from the harms of gambling (including  families affected by a loved ones gambling). Working with Vietnamese, Chinese, Arab and Anglo communities. 

Listening to Voices

A creative intervention devised with people who've been diagnosed with mental health 'illness', schizophrenia, bipolar, etc in order to challenge and shift community persepctives of hearing voices, mental illness and recovery. 

 Act of Translation

Devised with  international students who gathered for theatre workshops, culminating in four incredible booked out performances of ‘She’ll Be Right’. But what about the students’ lives behind the performances? And how did the theatre process really work?

Past Present Here

Made with members of the community in Lakes Entrance, Past Here Present is a powerful representation of the experience of discrimination by Aboriginal people. While representing the challenges, there is also a strong experience of positive life, identity and welcome.

'Not just my story' for Light in Winter

A performance created with 30 asylum seekers (featured in the Human Rights Arts Film Festival 2011) was adpated for 'Light in Winter'. A story exchange between asylum and seekers and Rob Bundle, Larry Walsh, Viki Couzens and Kutcha Edwards who took it in their own hands to welcome asylum seekers to country.

YES move NO move MOVED

A human response to the subject of difference (ethnicity vs citizenships vs identity) Made in collaboration with Bridget Fiske, Melita Jurisic, Joseph Lau, Andrew Crofts, Miguel Marin and Community and realised in the framework of Be SpectACTive! The work's research occurred via residencies with B51 Cultural Society in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tanec Praha in Prague, Czech Republic and Radu Stanca National Theatre in Sibiu, Romania 2015

Timor Leste - Preserving Timors Anciet Tales.

Bringing together the youth and elders in the Lautem district of East Timor, to transform their sacred ancestor stories into a performance event.  The project was documented by ABC TV and was shown several times on ABC 1 and ABC 3.  Watch this short documentary. 

Brunswick Women's Theatre (compilation)

Brunswick Women’s Theatre footage from 1992 - 2011.  As the founding artistic director Catherine Simmonds (in collaboration with the many women) facilitated, wrote and directed 20 major performances. The first half of the video is a montage from five different performances. The 2nd half is an edit of the forum theatre project 'Pretend You're Asleep' (which invited the audience to step into the dialogue and respond to the scenes of childhood sexual abuse and family violence)


OAM  2020 (Order of Australia Medal) For service to the performing arts

Australia Council of the Arts awarded Catherine two-year Fellowship in 2001 
Studied and worked with legendary Augusto Boal and his Center of the Theatre of the Oppressed in Rio De Janiero in Brazil. Forum Theatre is a fundamental method of CTO and has influenced her work there-after

Asialink Residency 2011  to work with Many Hands International in Timor Leste

Honouring Women in Moreland Award

I was fortunate enough to see the performance and the work not only entertained us all, but shifted minds – specifically mine! Such a powerful way to have us all ‘see,’ perceive and empathize with the lived experience of international students in our city. I can say that it felt like it was absolutely essential ‘professional development.

- Dr Jackie Watts -
Councillor, and Chair of the Knowledge City Portfolio, City of Melbourne


Audience member “Amazing, Powerful, Connecting, Brave. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can change the world”.

Audience Member: Theatre that changed my mind forever

Participant: It’s not just a performance it’s an intervention 

Audience Member: The most profound, authentic, moving non simplistic expression of lived experience mental health issues I  have been previldge to witness. Thankyou

Asylum Seeker participant (Europe): Today, dancing with you is the first day I feel happy since I left my country”.

I feel less alone in my struggles. It's dissolving shame, because the performers are sharing stories of shame in an un-shameful way. It can help to remove stigma associated with mental illness and give hope to those who are still fighting their battles.

- Audience member -
At Drug and Alcohol Centre

"Thank you to each of you from the many communities I've had the privilege to work with, 
you've been my teachers and enriched the way I see the world!"

- Catherine Simmonds