Join Helen Hopkins in conversation with Carolyn Bock, Cassandra Fumi, Todd MacDonald, Emmanuelle Mattana, Stephen Nicolazzo and Liv Satchell discussing how to navigate between the Independent and Mainstream theatre scenes. Delving into what is mainstream theatre? What does success look like? How do you sustain your practice? and how to transition from an Exploration to Touring, Festivals, Arts Centres and beyond!

Presenters: Helen Hopkins (chair) with Carolyn Bock, Cassandra Fumi, Todd MacDonald, Emmanuelle Mattana, Stephen Nicolazzo & Liv Satchell

Carolyn Bock 

Carolyn Bock is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, her career over 30 years has encompassed dance, theatre, television and film both nationally and internationally. Carolyn has performed in many commercial and independent productions. Carolyn has been nominated twice for best performer Green Room Awards in the independent Theatre category. As Co-founder of The Shift Theatre with colleague Helen Hopkins she has co-produced Two Sisters and A Piano– Nilo Cruz, Fred-Beatrix Christian, Lost In Ringwood– Barry Dickens, #NoExemptions and Eat Your Heart Out by Shift writer in residence Angela Buckingham. She has co- written two plays The Girls In Grey (VCE Playlist 2012) and Hallowed Ground- Women Doctors in War both touring nationally-Hallowed Ground (Lustrum Award-Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and is co creator of Garage Girls with Three Birds Theatre. In television and film, her most recent credits include feature film The Red Shoes-The Next Step, Almost Paradise for Electric Films/Amazon, Love, Tea and Epiphany for Rokk Star Films. Other recent screen credits include Wentworth, Safe Home, INXS The Untold Story among many others. Alongside acting work, Carolyn coaches young dancers and performers of all abilities and works with children and youth in rural Victoria devising theatre experiences. 

Cassandra Fumi 

Cassandra Fumi is a theatre director and maker based in Naarm. Her work is socially informed and community centred. Her directorial credits include: WORLD PROBLEMS (Melbourne Theatre Company), THE CROCODILE (fortyfivedownstairs- Green Room Award Winner- Best Director – Independent 2024); FAR AWAY (fortyfivedownstairs, ); THE MERMAID (La Mama Theatre); DOG SHOW (Melbourne Fringe Festival), NADJA (Cockpit Theatre, London). She has worked as Associate Director, A VERY JEWISH CHRISTMAS CAROL (Melbourne Theatre Company), Assistant Director THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA (Melbourne Theatre Company); OH DEER! APHIDS); WITTENOOM (Red Stich Actors’ Theatre and Touring Director on WE ALL KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING  (Vitalstatistix). She works regularly as Associate Artist with Samara Hearsh, APHIDS and as a community liaison with THE RABBLE.

Helen Hopkins 

Helen Hopkins is a co-founder of The Shift Theatre, a member of La Mama’s Committee of Management, a script writer, theatre producer and an actor with a long career in both film and theatre. Together with Carolyn Bock she has written, produced and performed in The Girls in Grey (published by Currency Press) and Hallowed Ground- Women Doctors in War. Her theatre appearances include Melbourne, Adelaide, Dublin and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. She has acted for Essential Theatre, The Australian Shakespeare Company and many La Mama productions. Recent performances include Jodi Gallagher’s Prophet at Theatre Works and for The Shift Theatre; Nathan Curnow’s Mystery in a Blimp and Angela Buckingham’s #NoExemptions and Eat Your Heart Out both of which premiered at La Mama. The co-production with Three Birds Theatre of the acclaimed Garage Girls has had a return season at La Mama and is touring regional Victoria in 2024. Helen appeared in the Green Room award winning In Angel Gear and Green Room Award nominated ensemble for The Merry Wives of Windsor

Todd MacDonald 

Todd is an independent theatre maker, director, dramaturg, performer and creative consultant. After completing acting training at NIDA in 1994 Todd has worked across theatre, film, television and voice over industries. From 1997-2002 Todd was a series regular on long-running series Neighbours and The Secret Life of Us. In 1999 he co-founded the award-winning venue and production company The Store Room Theatre in Melbourne, Victoria and programmed, produced and was Artistic Director until its closure in 2010. The Store Room was a 62-seat black -box venue that presented and produced work as a part of Melbourne Fringe, Comedy and International Festivals as well as year-round programming and new work development. 

Todd has worked as associate producer and company member with David Pledgers’ Not Yet It’s Difficult (NYID) and has toured nationally and internationally.  His theatre making practice is extensive and eclectic ranging from independent theatre companies and festivals through to mainstage companies, physical theatre to durational performance. His body of work is heavily influenced by community engaged practice and has an extensive history of working with professionals and non-actors in the context of community engaged documentary theatre work. 

Todd was the Artistic Associate at Queensland Theatre Company from 2011-2014 after which he took up the role of Artistic Director and CEO of La Boite Theatre Company, in Brisbane Australia from 2015 – 2020. Guiding the company through extensive change in its mission and assisting it to become a leader in diversity, equity and accessibility in the Australian arts landscape. 

He was recently the Public Relations Lead for SSI and BEMAC after serving as the inaugural Performing Arts Programmer at the Kingston Butter Factory Cultural Precinct in Logan City south of Brisbane. 

Emmanuelle Mattana  

Emmanuelle Mattana (she/they) is an actor, writer and maker passionate about telling stories that blend the playful with the political and connect with young, queer audiences. She is a current member of Sydney Theatre Company’s Watershed: Writers group, Malthouse Theatre’s Emerging Writers Group and was awarded the Equity Foundation Scholarship to study at the Atlantic Acting School in New York. After two sold-out, critically acclaimed Melbourne independent seasons, her debut play Trophy Boys will be returning to tour nationally in 2024, including a season at the Arts Centre Melbourne’s Fairfax Studio. As a filmmaker, her work has been commissioned by the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, RSPCA and Victoria Together and recognised at festivals internationally, including queer kids-comedy short The Odyssey, which was awarded Best Youth Film at the St Kilda Film Festival and Best Diversity Award at the WIFT V-Fest. Best known for playing the lead role of Marnie in three seasons of the International Emmy Kids® nominated tween series Mustangs FC (ABCMe x Matchbox Pictures), other performance credits include The Messenger (ABC), Surviving Summer, Clickbait (Netflix) and Ms Fisher’s MODern Murder Mysteries (Acorn TV). 

Stephen Nicolazzo 

Stephen is a theatre director and was recently appointed Artistic Director of BRINK, Adelaide. He was Co-Artistic Director of Western Edge 2022-2023 and is a member of the Associate Artist Advisory Panel at Melbourne Theatre Company 2022-2024. He was the founder and Artistic Director of Little Ones Theatre, an independent company focused on innovative queer theatre-making (2009-2022). Stephen studied at The University of Melbourne (2008) and NIDA (Directing, 2010).  

He is a Green Room Award winner for Best Direction (The Happy Prince) and has been nominated a further four times (Loaded, Psycho Beach Party, Dracula, and The Moors). His works have won 12 Green Room Awards and been nominated for a total of 45 since 2012. His works have also been nominated for Sydney Theatre Awards, a Victorian Premiers Literary Award, and an AWGIE.  

Stephen was also the recipient of the Besen Family Artist Program award with Malthouse Theatre and a PlayKing funding award to work in Singapore with Wild Rice Theatre Company and playwright Alfian Sa’at. He was a member of the 2019 Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab, New York City. 

He has directed for Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Belvoir, Griffin Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, Red Stitch Actor’s Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, Arts House, Performance Space, Yirramboi Festival, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane Festival, Darwin Festival, Perth Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Melbourne Cabaret Festival, Midsumma Festival, Theatre Works, Darebin Arts Speakeasy, fortyfive downstairs and La Mama. His works have been critically acclaimed and toured to sold out houses across the country. 

Credits: Loaded (Malthouse Theatre) Looking for Alibrandi (Malthouse Theatre, Belvoir), Loaded-Audio Experience (Malthouse Theatre), Considerable Sexual License (Joel Bray Dance), Merciless Gods (Arts Centre Melbourne, Griffin Theatre Company), and Abigail’s Party (Melbourne Theatre Company). Stephen has also directed Ash Flanders’ End Of. (Griffin Theatre Company, Darebin Arts Speakeasy), Judith Lucy and Denise Scott’s Still Here (Token Entertainment), The Happy Prince (Griffin Theatre Company, La Mama), The Moors (Red Stitch Actors Theatre), Daddy (Joel Bray Dance, Arts House, Arts Centre Melbourne, Brisbane Festival, Perth Festival, Darwin Festival, Liveworks) and Meme Girls (Malthouse Theatre). His work works for Little Ones Theatre include: Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (fortyfive downstairs), Nightingale and the Rose (Theatre Works), Dracula (Theatre Works), Dangerous Liaisons (MTC Neon, Brisbane Powerhouse, Darwin Festival), Salome (Malthouse Theatre Helium), Psycho Beach Party (Theatre Works, Brisbane Festival) and sex.violence.blood.gore (MKA). 

Liv Satchell 

Liv Satchell is a theatre-maker, writer, dramaturg and facilitator trained at the Victorian College of the Arts. Her practice focuses on building platforms for independent artists to share practice, on new writing development, and on producing original work through her company VIMH. Her recent body of work The Grief Trilogy (I sat and waited but you were gone too long; my sister feather; let bleeding girls lie) was three thematically linked plays exploring transformational encounters between strangers in public space, and was presented as a complete body of work in March 2023 at La Mama Courthouse. She is in the midst of making her mainstage debut at Belvoir Street Theatre with original work Nayika: A Dancing Girl at Belvoir Street Theatre, co-created and co-directed with Nithya Nagarajan. She has been nominated for Best Director four times at the Green Room Awards and both I sat and waited but you were gone too long and let bleeding girls lie won Best New Writing for Independent Theatre. 

Access Information:

Livestream: Book livestream tickets HERE. Livestream playback will be available until Sunday Jul 14.

Auslan Interpreted: All evening sessions (Session 1, Session 4, Session 7, Session 10, Session 13).