New National Theatre of Parramatta

At the launch of the National Theatre of Parramatta, TAT Theatre caught up with Executive Producer of National Theatre of Parramatta (NTofP), Joanne Kee

1. Why did you decide to launch a theatre company in Paramatta? Did you feel there was something missing?

We wanted a professional theatre company in the geographic heart of Sydney. Currently there is an imbalance in location, between professional performing arts companies and venues, despite Parramatta and Western Sydney having a larger population and indeed being the fastest growing centre in Australia.

We believe that our location is a microcosm of this country and by launching a theatre company in Parramatta, we are Putting the Nation on stage.

2. All of your directorate have impressive arts backgrounds. What do you think you each bring to the table?

They bring a wealth of experience from international and large-scale commercial performances through to fine grained relationships with artists and the community in Western Sydney and beyond. Their strengths are their diversity. For example, S. Shakthidharan as well as being a writer and director of theatre and film, has also received a Kirk Robson award for his work in relation to social justice and community. Annette Shun Wah has been an actor, writer, producer and broadcaster in TV and her performance works as EP of Performance 4a featured in last year and also this year’s Sydney Festival. Paula Abood also has a wealth of experience in the creative and cultural community as a writer and director. Wayne Harrison has produced and directed theatre, large-scale performances and international touring productions.

3. You state that the National Theatre of Paramatta “aspires to create bold, contemporary works that draw their inspiration from the rich diversity and untold stories of Western Sydney and beyond” how does your 2016 season reflect this?

Telling Tales is focused on the stories of Parramatta and Western Sydney. We will be presenting large-scale work alongside intimate story telling with an opportunity to break bread and have a coffee.

Our opening work Swallow is a new play written by Olivier award winning playwright Stef Smith. The story is universal in nature and we feel it will have a resonance with audiences not only in Western Sydney, but also beyond. We are very excited that Kate Champion has agreed to direct this work.

4. The Telling Tales storytelling festival is a great idea, can you explain why storytelling is important to the National Theatre of Paramatta as a format and not ‘traditional plays?’

This festival will comprise both traditional theatre “stories” and will also present story telling where the audience can be part of the experience. Additionally we are holding a story telling competition for young people, another opportunity for involvement. More will be revealed on these next year.

5. Since this is a local company and you really want to stake your claim in the Western Sydney arts scene, how important is it to foster local creatives? Does your company emphasise the work of Sydneysiders?

Of course we want to nurture and support creatives from Western Sydney. This will happen through presenting plays inspired and created by people of this region, but it will also happen through presenting the best and most inspiring works, with artists of the highest calibre with no geographical boundaries. When this takes place, we shall ensure that there are learning and development opportunities for local artists and theatre professionals.

Additionally, embedded in everything we do is building capacity within the sector. National Theatre of Parramatta will offer internships, mentorships, playwriting salons and creative development opportunities, for these we will absolutely focus on the community in Western Sydney.

6. Describe the National Theatre of Paramatta in 3 words?

Bold, diverse, the future.