Meet HotHouse Theatre’s new Artistic Director and CEO – Karla Conway

Thursday 6 June 2019

Today the Board of HotHouse Theatre announced the appointment of Ms Karla Conway to the role of Artistic Director/CEO. Karla will relocate to the region in early July and commence full-time in her new role from the 8th of July 2019.

Karla is a director, dramaturg, theatre-maker and respected arts leader. She studied Theatre at the University of Missouri-Columbia USA, and graduated from NIDA (Directing) in 2009. Since then, Karla has worked professionally in numerous leadership roles: as Artistic Director/CEO of Canberra Youth Theatre, Creative Producer for Warehouse Circus, and currently, as Program Manager for Canberra Theatre Centre. Alongside this, Karla has maintained her freelance practice as a director/dramaturg of theatre, contemporary dance and circus for professional artists and companies including The Street, Warehouse Circus and Australian Dance Party.

Karla has created numerous innovative works as a theatre-maker, including site-specific works for the National Library and the National Gallery of Australia, and has collaborated with artists and companies across the country on works for: Sydney Opera House, Black Swan State Theatre Company (WA), The Street (ACT), Action Transport Theatre (UK), Long Cloud Youth Theatre (NZ), and Academy of Interactive Entertainment. Among her many productions include international collaborations, interstate and international tours and a body of work amassing over 40 award nominations and wins – including three Canberra Critics Circle Awards. She will also bring to the role a depth of experience in developing and supporting emerging and mid-career artists.

Ms Conway said: “It is extremely humbling to be entrusted with leading this formidable company, and one that is so fully embraced by the community and the country. I look forward to ensuring HotHouse continues to evolve as one of the nation’s most prolific breeding grounds for new Australian theatre and new voices, and as a creative sanctuary for artists across the country”

Paul Robb, Chair of HotHouse said: Karla was an outstanding applicant for the role of Artistic Director of HotHouse. Karla is graduate of the NIDA Directors course, previous Artistic Director of Canberra Youth Theatre, and most recently was a senior member of the programming team for Canberra Theatre Centre.  Her own professional practice as a director and creator of theatre has covered a wide range of theatre genres. We look forward to welcoming Karla and her family to the region, and working with her in the next exciting stage for HotHouse.

Five Questions with Kamarra Bell Wykes

Kamarra Bell-Wykes (Yagera/Butchulla/European) is the director of the reading of STOLEN on the 24th of May to acknowledge National Reconciliation Week.  In 2017, Kamarra was appointed ILBIJERRI’s Creative Director and works as a playwright, performer, director and dramaturge across mainstage and community productions. Kamarra is dedicated to the development of First Nations ways of working across all of her practices.

Q1/  What is it about STOLEN that excites you as a director?
The opportunity to direct STOLEN is such an honour  as I played the role of Ann in the Victorian VCE tour for many years and the work and the experience of performing for so many  young people that had never heard of the Stolen Generation had such a huge effect on me. STOLEN provides so much opportunity for actors through its character transformations, time/place jumps, song, rhythm and movement. Despite its very serious content and message its actually an incredibly fun and enjoyable show to work with.

Q2/  What can audiences expect when seeing the reading?
The magic of STOLEN is that no matter how old you are or where you come from, every single person that sees it finds something they connect with. For First Nations Peoples this is even more so. These are the stories of our old people, of our grandparents and our Aunty’s and Uncles. Whether we like it or not these are stories that have shaped our collective experience. This is just as important for non-indigenous people as the Stolen Generations are part of our shared history. Just from different sides of the fence. I believe that STOLEN has a power because every single time a different Aboriginal person plays one of these characters, they bring with them the perspective of their families and their ancestors which the role is born anew through. I think having the opportunity to have these amazing young people and community members bring their voices and with them their collective old people, the audience can expect to experience a moving and powerful night of theatre seeped in the truth of the historical experiences of the area.

Q3/  The play has been around for 20 years – why do we still need to see/hear it?
The Stolen Generations are still a very recent part of our history and the trans-generational trauma created by these experiences still resonates within our communities and families today. With rates like 2 in 5 Aboriginal children removed from their families (and in some areas even higher) I don’t think there are any First Nations Australians that haven’t been affected in some way. It is crucial that upcoming generations of First Nations and Non-First Nations Australians understand what our old people went through and the impact this had on us. Unfortunately, the rates of First Nations children in care are now reportedly at higher rates than during the official Stolen Generations, this story is not over.

Q4/  You’ve worked in the region before – What do you love about working here?
Its always such a refreshing change to get out the big smoke and get close to the big river. Its such beautiful country up there and to be able to combine my love of theatre and being in the bush is a pretty special privilege. HotHouse is an amazing venue with incredible programs and phenomenal staff and for me it’s a bit of aspiration. I would love to see something like this taking place in my own community. Im always so blown out by the enthusiasm, talent and powerful voices I encounter when working in the space and I have no doubt this experience is going to be just as special.

I am always super excited about staying at the FarmHouse as well, as I believe this such in iconic space in Australia’s art landscape and is filled with so much magic. When I stay there, I know I’m sleeping in the shadows of Kings.

Q5/  What was the piece of theatre that made you think  – “yep that’s for me”?
There are a lot of pieces that have this impact on me but I think most recently I would have to say Future D. Fidel’s Prize Fighter , Dee and Cordelius’ SHIT, and ILBIJERRI’s Beautiful One Day. I think the mark of a great play is one that you still think about years after seeing it and I would have to say that of David Brown’s Eating Ice cream with your eyes closed which I actually saw at HotHouse many many moons ago.

 

Lyn Walis portrait

Artistic Director Says Au Revoir, Not Goodbye

The Board of HotHouse Theatre announces that after more than four years with the Company, Artistic Director/CEO Lyn Wallis will step down from her full-time role at the end of June: for personal reasons, and to pursue other creative endeavours. Lyn will work with HotHouse until new artistic leadership is in place, and will continue in a contract capacity as an Associate Producer until the end of the year providing production
support to the Company and incoming Artistic Director, and shepherding the company’s new independent performance program (Celsius), through its first season.

Lyn has led HotHouse from strength to strength, enabling it to remain one of only a few producing regional theatre companies in Australia. HotHouse Chair Paul Robb said:

“Lyn leaves the Company in excellent health, both artistically and financially. Through leveraging dynamic partnerships with some of Australia’s most accomplished theatre artists and companies, Lyn has significantly expanded our programming profile – and our audience base. Her new work commissions ‘The River at the End of the Road’ by Caleb Lewis and ‘At The Hip’ by Roslyn Oades, were based on local stories and experiences and spoke deeply to the uniqueness of the region, and our community. The establishment of the Celsius performance program by Lyn will leave a long-term legacy for the development of local independent artists. Lyn leaves the
Company with our best wishes and we thank her for the valuable contribution she has made to the Company”.

Lyn Wallis said, “Leading HotHouse through such a dynamic period for the arts in Australia, in partnership with a vibrant regional community, has been one of the richest experiences of my career. I love Albury-Wodonga, and am proud to call it home. I am looking forward to working on a freelance basis and continuing to contribute to this thriving arts community.”

The role of Artistic Director/CEO will be advertised today. A Position Description and other recruitment details can be obtained by contacting HotHouse Theatre Chair Paul Robb at chair@hothousetheatre.com.au or General Manager Michael Huxley: 02 6021 7433 or generalmanager@hothousetheatre.com.au

Ends.

Media contact: Vanessa Keenan, Marketing and Communications Manager 0418 445 131 or vanessa@hothousetheatre.com.au

Hotel Bonegilla is on its way!

A fantastic community cast is busily rehearsing with director Anni Gifford for our presentation of Hotel Bonegilla, 16-18 November. 25 local community actors – including our 2017/18 Studio Ensemble – are exploring Tes Lyssiotis’ moving play about the early migrant experience of Wodonga’s Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre. The Hotel Bonegilla presentation will be a part of the Centre’s 70th anniversary in November, and HotHouse’s 20th birthday celebrations.

The cast of Hotel Bonegilla is a mix of actors new to our stage, and some original actors from the 1997 production. These actors have vivid recollections of Tes Lyssiotis’ original production, and the meaning it had for them. It’s wonderful to see them sharing these experiences with a new generation of community actors engaged with our region’s history.

Rehearsals are travelling well: in the photo above you can see some of the actors, including original participants Martin Fussell and Robyn Smithwick. There are only four performances of Hotel Bonegilla, so don’t miss out!

7pm Thursday 16 November
7pm Friday 17 November
3pm Saturday 18 November
7pm Saturday 18 November

Find out more about Hotel Bonegilla.
Book here now!

Mary Rachel Brown

Award winning playwright to give write advice to SOLO Monologue shortlist

Award winning playwright, Mary Rachel Brown, will be giving shortlisted SOLO Monologue competition entrants dramaturgical advice on their entries.

Emerging and established playwrights have just one month to get their entries into the HotHouse Theatre, La Trobe University and Write Around the Murray SOLO Monologue competition that closes 5pm AEST on Friday, 24 June .

International entries have been received from Ireland, California, London and South Africa, while most states and territories are represented in the Australian entries.

The competition carries a $500 prize for the winner of each of the three categories –  unpublished/unperformed monologues; published/performed and monologues written by high school students – and the chance for entrants to rewrite or fine tune their entries if shortlisted.

Mary, who wrote the highly popular opening play for the 2016 HotHouse Theatre season, The Dapto Chaser, is the recipient of the following National Playwriting Awards – 2016 Lysicrates Prize, the 2008 Rodney Seaborn Award, 2007 Max Affords Award and the 2006 Griffin Award. Her play Last Letters has been in repertory at the Australia War Memorial for the last seven years. Other works for the stage include – Inside Out -Christine Dunstan Productions, Die Fledermaus (Adaption) – Sydney Conservatorium of Music, National Security And The Art Of Taxidermy – The Glynn Nicholas Group, All My Sleep And Waking – TRS.  Her TV credits include sketch writing for The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fightin’ for ABC and several episodes of Home and Away for Channel 7.

As well as working with individual playwrights, Mary has worked in a dramaturgical capacity for Canberra Youth Theatre, Albany Youth Theatre and The Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre. She has also conducted playwriting workshops for The Canberra Theatre Centre, Griffin Theatre’s Ambassadors’ program, The Albany Writers Festival, NIDA, Canberra Youth Theatre, Charles Sturt University and Hothouse Theatre.

Mary has been a member of script selection panels for The Griffin Award and Inscriptions Edward Albee Playwriting Scholarship, and has also participated as both a speaker and a playwright in numerous Playwriting Australia script workshops and The National Play Festival.

After receiving advice from Mary, the shortlisted writers will be given the opportunity to rewrite or fine tune their monologues for the final assessment process. As part of the Write Around the Murray Festival there will be a rehearsed reading of their monologues by local performers on Thursday, 8 September.

For more information, competition guidelines and entry forms click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of Rime of the Ancient Mariner to Open First HotHouse HotSpot Talk – The Brink

A 30 minute rehearsed reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Olwen Steel will open the inaugural HotHouse HotSpot Talk – The Brink tomorrow night at Cafe Grove, Wodonga from 6pm.

Olwen was born in South London in the mid-50’s, and arrived in Australia in October 1974. She has been living in Albury-Wodonga since 1987, and since making the Border her home, Olwen has explored music theatre and singing as a chorister, mostly at St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Albury, and also in various a capella groups. She has spent the past decade or so as a schoolteacher on both sides of the river in primary, special ed and high schools. She is currently studying Visual Art full time at Albury TAFE. Her hobbies include singing and leading small study tours to the Mediterranean.

The reading will be introduced by La Trobe University’s Senior Lecturer in the Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, Dr Susan Lawler.

It will be followed by supper and a panel discussion with Dr Lawler and Head of La Trobe University’s School of Life Sciences, Professor Michael Clarke. The panel will also include a local wildlife rescuer and carer and will discuss what the Mariner’s tale means for us today.

Dr Lawler said she had read the poem to her ecology students every year for 15 years and felt it articulated that special connection with nature and the high stakes of conservation in a deeply personal and emotional way.

‘We have a responsibility to protect and even love our fellow creatures even if they are not cute and cuddly. A spiritual connection with nature is inevitable if we allow ourselves to spend sufficient time outdoors.

‘I am looking forward to inflicting the same confronting experience on the public and giving them a chance to discuss their reactions,’ Dr Lawler said.

HotHouse Theatre Artistic Director, Lyn Wallis said the HotSpot Talk series, supported by La Trobe University, had been scheduled to complement the season’s shows.

‘The talks will be held in surprising locations and in partnership with local restaurants, wineries and food-growers. ‘They will be cross art-form and highly social exploring interesting ideas and dynamics that resonate with our subscription season, but mostly they’re about getting into some really meaty topics while enjoying some fabulous food and drinks,’ Ms Wallis said.

Tickets are $30 and $25 concession and for HotHouse Subscribers. All tickets include supper and a glass of wine. Please note the venue for The Brink is Cafe Grove and not The Butter Factory Theatre.

BOOKING NOW – BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL!