Catherine is one of Australia’s leading community cultural development theatre makers. As an artistic director, her focus is the space between the ‘lived experiences’ of communities and the language of art. She was a lead actress with the IRAA theatre for ten years, displacement, identity and cultural minorities, were central performance themes. As the founding director of the Brunswick Women’s Theatre, cultural diversity was integral to her ‘modus operandi’. For more almost three decades she’s provided marginalized people with a creative space in which to ‘discover the need to speak and to speak the unspoken’. The community, become the actors, the devisors, the consultants and protagonists of their own and each other’s stories. Her work has powerfully addressed some of most pressing issues of our time including, intercultural and cross-generational relationships, identity and changing values, changing futures for indigenous people, public and private violence, trafficked women and the asylum seeker story, mental health and addiction. Her work has attracted the collaboration NGOs, local government, health and community organsiation and invloved some outstanding Australian artists. Her contemporary theatrical productions have inspired and touched the hearts of audiences regardless of class or culture.
BE YOU – BE SCENE
Sponsored by Study Melbourne and presented by ISANA in partnership with RMIT Foundation, RMIT Translation, Monash College, AFIS Catheirne as director and facilitator ran workshops and directed scenarios with international students about their experiences in relation to these core issues. Mental Health LGBTIQ, Employability, Accommodation, Cultural Difference. This project tokk these issues beyond universities into the wider community and to service providers.
Three Sides of the Coin
Conducting creative storytelling workshops and producing theatrical scenes with people affected by the harms of gambling. Presenting scenes as professional development for workers in following sectors: Criminal Justice, Family Violence, Women’s Health, Men’s Referral, Addiction, Crisis Lines, Mental health etc.
Listening to Voices
Artistic Director and facilitator of a creative development, exploring the hard to talk about issues as part of suicide prevention supported by Gateway Health
Act of Translation reaches Out
Takes “She’ll Be Right” further scope the issues presented.
Act of Translation Documentary
Artistic Director for a creative development with Inkrewsive, a ‘Wild at Heart’ project. Wild at Heart provides opportunities for people who experience disability, mental illness or other disadvantage to find their own “voice” through music and art.
Three Sides of the Coin
Conducting creative storytelling workshops and producing theatrical scenes with people affected by the harms of gambling. Facilitating groups through LinkHealth, Arabic Welfare, Australia Vietnamese Women’s Association, Ngwala Willumbong.
Regional Tour “Listening to Voices”
Artistic Director and facilitator. Due to success and public demand the Board of Gateway Health remounted “Listening to Voices” for a regional tour. Now delivering performances in partnership with Pharan Mission and Voices Vic.
Act of Translation
Creative project with International Students and the local community exploring issues of identity and belonging, this culminated in a successful performance “She’ll Be Right” and a documentary called the “Act of Translation” The project was supported by Study Melbourne and conducted in partnership with City of Melbourne, RMIT Translation Department and Australian Federation of International Students and the Immigration Museum.
Melbourne Writers Festival
Created short performance with 15 international students as a part of My Place in Melbourne Study Melbourne event
Many Ways to Help Conference (Melbourne)
Delivered performance of LINK HEALTH Three Sides of the Coin for the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, conference delegation
Listening to Voices
Facilitator and Artistic Director on a project with Gateway Health Wodonga, working to reduce the stigma for people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia, through a series of creative workshops that culminated in a performance.
INTER VOICE ’Conference in Paris
Presented performance & delivered workshop exploring the relevance of drama as a tool for empowerment for those with a mental health diagnosis
Culture of Survival
Co creative workshop failitator with Kylie Farmer as part of CAN’s, Rekindling Stories on Country strategy. “Culture of survival” brought together a group of emerging and established Noongar artists to devise a theatre piece
LINK HEATLH Three Sides of the Coin
Facilitation and direction of theatrical scenes devised with people affected by gambling. The scenarios are used as a catalyst to a dialogue with the wider community about this public health issue.
YES Move. NO Move. (MOVED?)’
Selected as one of three projects developed via residences in Europe as part of BeSpectactive. YES Move. NO Move. (MOVED?)’ (www.bespectactive.eu) Catherine worked as the community engagement specialist and director in an ensemble of international dance and theatre artists (Bridget Fiske, Melita Jurassic, Andrew Crofts and Joseph Lau). Via residencies in 3 countries B51 Cultural Society in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Tanec Praha in Prague, Czech Republic and Radu Stanca National Theatre in Sibiu, Romania and in conjunction with the community (people seeking asylum, migrant workers, activists, and others) they created a challenging interactive dance theatre piece that asked, what’s really at stake when we fail to embrace the other in ourselves?
Everyday Interventions (Vic Health project)
Conducting workshops with three different community groups (Koorie community, Noweyung group, Rotary Club members and local farmers) in Lakes Entrance and Barinsdale; A collaboration with film artist and soundscape artist to produce three YouTube clips/videos that explore people’s sense of place whilst addressing the harms of race based discrimination. Learn More
Big West Festival
Devised and directed an interactive performance piece “This is NOT a protest” engaging people seeking asylum from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre as the protagonists. Inhabiting different rooms of a house, our protagonists shifted between roles of subject, storyteller and immigration officials as the audience slowly discovered themselves to be in the position of someone applying for asylum.
CAN (Community Arts Network)
First stage creative residency working with emerging Noongar artists as part of the ‘Culture of Survival’ project that built towards a cultural exchange with emerging artists in East Timor
LINK Community Health
Facilitator and Director of theatrical scenes, used as an outreach tool with diverse communities about the impacts of gambling. Beyond Blame and Shame specifically worked with the Vietnamese, Tamil and Chinese communities as well as ‘the ‘affected others”
Swinburne University in collaboration with Boroondara council
Developed a performance art intervention with international students to explore the translation of cultural values on new soil, specifically focusing upon issues of ‘gender violence’
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre Human Rights Day
Co devised performance with 16 Asylum Seekers
Australian Federation of International Students in partnership with the City of Melbourne
“Transient Belonging Part A” Specifically exploring the relationship of international students and local residents in the precinct of ‘Docklands’ The process used the appreciative inquiry methodology.
Monashlink Community Health
Conducted workshops with people affected by ‘problem gambling’. Wrote and directed ‘Two Sides of the Coin’ a performance exploring ‘problem gambling’ that toured in five council regions.
Facilitated and directed the creative development of a new work that explored identity beyond the social borders of culture and assumption into “A Different Sky”. This project engaged students from: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Vietnam, China, India, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Peru.
Young Adult Migrants in partnership with ‘Darebin Youth’
Interactive dance and storytelling project culminating in a performance with 30 migrant and refugee youth
Monahshlink Community Health - Ruin to Recovery
Designed and directed a radio play with the authors of the anthology ‘From Ruin to Recovery”. Listen to radio play
“The Trap” An ongoing creative development with and about women trafficked into the sex industry in Australia
CANWA (Community Arts Network WA)
“Creating relationship in contested spaces’ Presenting as a ‘white’ artist working on projects with the Noongar community
Light in Winter Festival (Federation Square)
Developed a public art performance with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre to address Vic Health’s objective ‘Addressing the harms of race based discrimination.
Multicultural Women’s Health, Turning Point and Australian Federation of International Students
Facilitated four workshops to explore international student’s attitudes about drinking alcohol. Wrote and directed a small film taken from the conversations and improvisations of the workshops “No Worries Have a Drink”
Parliament House Victoria
Presented to ministers, members and the general public a semi directed performance of ‘Ruin to Recovery’ highlighting the issues of ‘pokie machines’ and the people who become addicted.
Theatrical scenes created with international students as small interventions that engage the attention of newly arrived international students.
A series of confidence building workshops with Assyrian youth in the North
Latrobe International: Remount of the international student performance
“So Where Are You From?” for senior staff of the faculties, followed by workshops that explore the critical issues presented.
Project Respect in Partnership with Platform Youth Theatre and the No to Violence network
Facilitated the dialogue and creative process exploring the impact of the sex industry upon three target groups, women, youth and men. Wrote and directed the ‘work in progress’ performance “In bed with the Elephant in the room” presented as part of the Lamama Courthouse season.
Melbourne Writers Festival: Preparation of performance script based on the writings from “From Ruin to Recovery”
Directed a performance with the writers of the book expressive of the journey from pokie machine addiction to recovery.
AIEC and ISANA international education conferences
Presented theatrical scenes with the international student from the performance ‘So where are you from?”
Community Arts Network WA (CANWA)
Scripted half hour documentary for CANWA. Facilitated the Noongar Elders and their response to ‘community governance’ and the issues affecting Aboriginal youth. View video
Catherine wrote ‘Journey of Asylum – Waiting’ published by Currency Press in an anthology of six contemporary Australian Plays about Refugees edited by Emma Cox 2013. Read more
Centre for Culture and Ethnicity in Partnership with Melbourne University
Facilitated a series of creative workshops with international students from Melbourne University and developed performance ‘Life’s a Gamble’ (Game of Reality) Presented at RMIT and Melbourne University and remounted at Lamama in collaboration with City of Melbourne
Ghost Citizens Art Exhibition
Facilitated arts panel exploring the government intervention as seen through the practices of Aboriginal and non-Indigenous artists. Artists looked at the return to protectionist policy and the diminishing of an Indigenous participatory voice: the loss of citizenship rights, of the right to homelands and self-determination.
Latrobe International and Student theatre
Conducting regular theatre workshops with International Students at Latrobe University. Exploring the theme, ‘Globalization of the mind’ the work culminated in a performance season called ‘So where are YOU from?”
Federation Square: Square of Light Step In
Facilitating workshops with Asylum Seekers Resource Centre in conjunction with Light in Winter, to produce performance art for Federation Square June 2013
North West Mental Health in partnership with Brunswick Women’s Theatre
Development and presentation of theatrical scenes to engage and consult with the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities of the North West in the development of a mental well-being campaign
DEECD Western Region Hobson’s Bay Network
Theatre used as an innovative strategy to address service gaps for vulnerable children and young people: ‘Mirror, Mirror’ brought together refugee and migrant youth into a creative workshop process that led to a performance that was presented across High Schools in the region.
Community Arts Network WA
Youth Residential: Engaging and consulting with Noongar youth to identify and create theatrical scenes representing the issues they see as impacting their lives. Elders are invited to ‘Step in’
Life’s a gamble (International Students) - Collaboration between Moreland and Darebin city councils, Gamblers Help Northern and international students
Conduct creative workshops, write and direct a performance exploring the pressures and impacts of social isolation and its link to ‘problem gambling’ Working with international students from Afghanistan, Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Pakistan.
Light in Winter Festival (Federation Square)
Facilitated asylum seeker stories for the festival in collaboration with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Community Arts Network WA
Cultural Mapping and Community Governance’ Consulting with and facilitating the storytelling of the Noongar elders in the Southern Wheat belt. ‘Almost every Noongar has had or has a family member in prison' this project seeks to empower the voice of the elders, as active role models for Aboriginal youth.
Many Hands International (NGO) East Timor
Worked with youth and the elders in the Lautem district of East Timor exploring questions such as: “What is culture? What elevates you? What oppresses you?” this culminated in the transformation of sacred ancestor stories into a performance event ‘One Culture many different stories’ ‘Preserving Timor's ancient tales: Australian Broadcast Corporation documentary. View video
Moslem Women’s Centre for Human Rights
Theatre workshops with students (ages 10 -16) “freedom to express oneself without harming others”
Brunswick Women’s Theatre and Banksia Gardens Community Centre (Broadmeadows)
Facilitate regular skills development theatre workshops, for women in the City of Hume. Collaborate with North West Mental Health to create theatrical scenes as a means to engage the CALD community in a campaign for mental health.
Change Media and Bell Shakespeare Company. (The Perfect Refugee)
Facilitated the collaboration of a team of Asylum Seeker artists in a creative laboratory with Bell Shakespeare actors and change media – research for a viral add campaign about Refugees. The Perfect Refugee - Yomal's Movie Moments.
Arabic Women’s Welfare
‘Through our eyes’ a performance project exploring issues of gender power and culture
Brunswick Women’s Theatre
‘Talk You Me’ a multimedia performance project that explored CALD women’s stories and their gendered experience of education, language and their status as migrant women in Australia
Asialink Residency in East Timor with Many Hands International
Working with youth in the Ainaro district to develop performances and present in district villages: 3 forum theatre plays were developed relating to issues of: child labor, rights to education and forced marriage
Human Rights Arts Film Festival
‘Not Just My Story’. In collaborations with the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, Catherine devised, scripted and directed the performance ‘Not Just My Story’ with 30 Asylum Seekers.
Victorian Arabic Social Services
'We Are the One’ (theatre film project) with young Moslem girls exploring ‘Human Rights’
Human as a First Language in English as a Second Language
Brunswick Women’s Theatre and Meadow Heights Learning Shop collaborated in a community development project that utilized theatre within an ESL setting to facilitate the stories and expression of the migrant and refugee students
CANWA (Community Arts Network WA)
‘The Doll Project’ (facilitated the stories of Aboriginal Noongar women for a documentary film and museum installation)
Victorian Women’s Immigrant and Refugee Coalition
“What’s your name again?” Developed a series of performances with the Sudanese, Iraqi and Cook Island women exploring issues of parenting and assimilation
Community Arts Network WA. Artistic/Event Director with the Aboriginal Noongar people in the Southern Wheat belt
This was a peace-building project aimed at creating a ‘new narrative’ beyond feuding within the community. “Stronger communities stronger culture”
Brunswick Women’s Theatre
Training and mentoring women of the community in the City of Hume in the art of theatre facilitation
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre
“Journey of Asylum – Waiting” Wrote and directed a theatrical performance season with 22 Asylum Seekers. It was a SOLD-OUT season at Trades Hall Carlton. Anne McNevin documented the process and wrote. “Becoming Political: Irregular Migrant Activism through Community Theatre” Local-Global: Identity, Security, Community, 8 (2010), pp. 142-156.
Women’s Health in the North
Brunswick Women’s Theatre in collaboration with WHIN developed a performance about the impact of climate change policies upon women’s daily lives “Change of Climate”
Asylum Seekers Resource Centre
“Journey of Asylum” Script and performance development with of 20 asylum seekers culminating in a ‘work in progress’ public presentation
Meadow Heights Learning Shop
BWT and Meadow Heights Learning Shop “Theatre in ESL learning”
Melba Disability Support Services
Creating theatre with a special needs group “Be Scene Theatre”
Human Rights Training (Roxburgh College)
Tacking issues of bullying with girls that have been ‘bullies’
Project Respect (NGO)
“Prostitute, who is she?" Working with women from the sex industry & women who were trafficked as sex slaves into Australia from Thailand, along with musician Eugene Ughetti and prominent Melbourne Actors. Also faciltiated a training creating a soundscape with womens voices for a training with the Australian Federal Police.
WHIN (Women’s Health in the North)
A series of workshops and community consultations with women from the community who struggled with the ‘pokies’’. This culminated in a DVD for National distribution, encouraging women to access services. “Machine and Me”
VWIRC (Victorian Women’s Immigrant Refugee Coalition) Workshop dialogue between women of 10 different countries, culminating in a film documentary called “BYO”
VWIRC (Victorian Women’s Immigrant Refugee Coalition)
“Recipe for Community Harmony” Theatrical scenes created with Afghani, Iraqi, Kurdish, Sudanese and Cook Islander participants to impact government and service providers regards the needs of CALD women “Listen to Us”
VASS (Victoria Arabic Social Services)
Series of workshop with Young Arabic Women “Free to be me” young women present 10 theatrical scenes investigating the struggle between “Who I am and what I am supposed to be” “this was a Forum Theatre event called “What other people think”
BRUNSWICK WOMEN’S THEATRE (BWT) 1992 - 2012
As the founding, artistic director of the Brunswick Women’s Theatre (BWT) Catherine guided the vision, philosophy and creative product from 1992 until 2011. As the facilitator of process, dramaturge/writer and director of productions she co devised with the community more than 20 major performances that mobilized, challenged and voiced the community. Her work was dedicated to providing marginalized people a createive space, particularly Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women. Participants, who at the beginning of a process did not perceive themselves as actors, transformed into protagonists of powerful contemporary dramas.
(A selection of performances)
OTHER SELECT PROJECTS
Voices Out of the Blue
Discovering Recovering a theatre project with women recovering from psychiatric illness. Developed at the Boomerang Club it resulted in a group devised performance
Performance video project with young women in the Parkville Unit in Melbourne.
DV Awareness in Deniliquin
With local service groups & Aboriginal women.
Teenagers and their primary care-givers dealing with issues of sexual abuse.
Migrant Resource Centre
“The sound of fire” working with young Somali refugees.
Victims of Sexual Assault
Group of men in a project called ‘Trust’.
CORE ACTRESS WITH THE IRAA THEATRE (International research - art of the actor) 1988 – 1999
IRAA’s training emphasized the importance of the energy and presence of the actor. IRRA’s performances were physical and image based. She was a core actor along with Tony Yap and they performed in numerous National (Adelaide Festival) and International Festivals (Italy, Indonesia, Vienna), Catherine performed in ten of the IRAA productions; most notable was her performance as Hecuba in the TROJAN WOMEN at the International Arts Festival in Vienna.
Utilizing theatrical methods as a problem-solving tool within non-arts sectors
Australia Council of the Arts a two-year Fellowship in 2001.
Catherine studied and worked with:
Hume Arts Professional Development Award
National Community Cultural Development Leadership Program (Centre for Cultural Partnerships Melbourne University)
Honoring Women in Moreland Award achievements leading Brunswick Women’s Theatre.
Graduated the Victorian College of the Arts in 1988 with a Degree in Dramatic Art