Say Something Do Something

An intergenerational performance for Seniors Festival 2018 about the potential for words, actions and theatre to change the world

Spark Youth Theatre assembled a passionate ensemble of young (12-18) and older (55+) people from the inner west who had plenty to say about themselves, their community and the world. They leaped into action to spiritedly challenge the role theatre has to play in all of this, encouraging audiences to do the same!

Facilitated by Artistic Director Chris Dunstan and local visual DJ Effy Marie Smith over a two-month period, ensemble members were asked to respond to different questions and provocations in whatever way they liked. What’s a headline you’d love to wake up to? Do you have a bucket list? What’s something you’ve dreamed of doing onstage? Is there something we can say or do, right now, to change the world? The group's responses were used to generate text, performance, video, sound and much more that was then woven into a multimedia piece of theatre, creating a snapshot of the inner west through the stories, opinions and ideas of young and older members from the community.

Ensemble: Francesco Buda, Jan Curran, Anthia Hart, Fleur Herscovitch, Vincent Li, Dorothy MacIntyre, Josie, Norina Monden, Hollie Morrison-Salt, Cindy Nguyen, Petra Williams & Markus Wilson

Creative Team
Co-facilitators: Chris Dunstan & Effy Marie Smith
Direction & Text Arrangement: Chris Dunstan
VJ: Effy Marie Smith
Production Manager: Jackson Davis
Production Assistant: Alexander Macdonald
Graphic Design: Robert Bamford
Videographer: Irony Mark Films
Photography: Carly Young

"It was a great program, building bridges of shared understanding and mutual support across generations. It helped to improve communication skills, empathy and community connectedness. Truly a life-changing way towards health, wellbeing and community development." (Fleur, Ensemble member, older)
"[My favourite part of being involved] was smashing sugar glass and hearing and sharing our stories." (Norina, Ensemble member, young)

Claim the Stage and More

A short performance festival by young people with a twist

A hall. A stage. Some chairs. 14 young people. Maybe…

Spark Youth Theatre's short performance festival returned in November 2017 with a twist of lemon and cheeky subversion. A lively celebration of the ensemble’s creativity, the audience were treated to a journey through an immersive and interactive environment.

Facilitated by Artistic Director Chris Dunstan and local theatre maker Carly Young over a 6-week period, participants were exposed to different types of performance and storytelling before developing their own short creative works. This included short plays, interactive and roaming performances, use of multimedia, installations, games and much more. Ultimately, the group came together to help realise each other's ideas in a unique showcase experience for the local community at the Ashfield Town Hall.

Ensemble: Francesco Buda, Sebastian Cutcherwirth, Hao Dang, William Devine, Alexander Hodgson, Vincent Li, Josie, Norina Monden, Essence Nock, Lily-Rose Raposo, Justin Schoonbergen, Zoe Taylor, Darby Thomas & Markus Wilson

Co-facilitators: Chris Dunstan & Carly Young
Production Manager: Jackson Davis
Stage Manager: Caitlyn Wright
Assistant Stage Manager: Theo Tunks
LX & Sound Operator: Alexander Macdonald
Production Assistant: Alan Huynh
Promotional Graphic Design: Robert Bamford
Videography: Irony Mark Films

“The level of creative licence the kids had... just inspirational! I tell people that on Wednesday nights she’s Josie 150%. She's hilarious, animated, energetic (and tiring). I can’t recommend this program enough. The fact that it’s free is a blessing, we couldn’t afford it otherwise. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids. Heartfelt thanks.” (Noella, parent)

Political Children

Parliamentary debate meets schoolyard rules.
Warning: tantrums included!

In 2014, the Abbott government committed a small amount of federal funding to an anti-bullying program known as Safe Schools. In 2015, the program was investigated and a political storm brewed. Funding was abandoned a year later, leaving Safe Schools dead in the water.

What sparked this?
Who will this effect?
And won’t somebody please think of the children?! 

‘Political Children’ is a humorous yet hard-hitting piece of verbatim theatre, which has enjoyed hugely successful seasons at Ashfield Council Chambers in December 2016, ATYP as part of the Mardi Gras Festival in March 2017, and Customs House in partnership with City of Sydney Library in December 2017. Written and directed by Artistic Director Felicity Nicol in collaboration with the young cast, the play uses Hansard transcripts, newspaper articles and online content to shine a magnifying glass on debate around the Safe Schools program, exemplifying Spark’s mission to provide young people with a platform and mouthpiece for responding to issues that are most immediate to them.

Cast: Sebastian Cutcherwirth, Emma Hooton, Elodie Jake, Lola Rose van Overdam, Theo Tunks & Jan Anderson

Writer & Director: Felicity Nicol
Lighting & Set Designer: Benjamin Brockman
Sound Designer & Composer: Nate Edmondson
Movement Associate: Aslam Abdus-Samad
Dramaturgy (ATYP/Mardi Gras): Francesca Smith
Assistant Director (City of Sydney Library): Shondelle Pratt
Stage Manager (ATYP/Mardi Gras): Cara Woods
Stage Manager (City of Sydney Library): Zara Thompson
Producer (ATYP/Mardi Gras): Bradley Barrack
Producer (City of Sydney Library): Chris Dunstan

“A deep exploration into the complex social aspects of sexual and gender diversity... [with] teenagers full of gumption” (Suzy Goes Sees)

Claim the Stage

‘Claim the Stage’ is Spark’s short play festival where young people from the community are mentored by industry professionals to write, direct and perform in their own new works.  

During the 3-month development period prior to touring the inner west in June 2016, writer/dramaturg Melissa Lee Speyer and Artistic Director Felicity Nicol worked closely with participants to develop skills and encourage self-expression within a safe and supportive environment. This inspired confidence and provided a platform for the interests, concerns and talents of the young group to be seen and heard.

To Thine Own Self

‘To Thine Own Self’ was a multifaceted season of new works by emerging artists who have experienced mental illness. Presented in partnership with Fundability, Northcott, headspace Ashfield and the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW in June 2016, mentors, mental healthcare workers and three young artists came together to explore how performance and mental health intersect.

Mentors - Melissa Lee Speyer, Alison Bennett and David Kirkpatrick

Project Facilitation and Concept - Felicity Nicol (Artistic Director)

Artists - Matty Dolman, Lap Nguyen and Zoe Tomaris

Punk Rock

A group of students at a posh high school are gearing up for their final exams and the pressure is on. They have to be the smartest, the funniest, the prettiest and the most athletic. Faced with an increasingly disinterested world, these seven teenagers are trying to find a way out of their small town and the small-minded people within it. With hormones raging and minimal adult supervision, nothing can hide the tension that’s bubbling ever closer to the surface.

Written by Simon Stephens and directed by Artistic Director Felicity Nicol with a cast of local young people, this 2015 Spark production gave audiences insight into the modern pressures of being a teenager.

“Felicity Nicol has directed a forceful and thought-provoking production.” (The Buzz from Sydney)