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MERRIGONGX 2021 Artists’ Program

innovative • independent • in-development

MERRIGONGX is our annual artists’ program. It focuses on supporting artists to take creative risks.

MERRIGONGX places artists and their practice at the centre of our community. From in-house creative developments to full-blown public presentations of new work, and everything in between, MERRIGONGX provides independent artists with financial, technical, marketing and artistic resources.

This year we’re inviting you to engage with some of our artists, and witness the birth of four extraordinary new works and five development showings.

MERRIGONGX events work on a Pay What You Feel basis. Audience members simply reserve a spot, show up, then  Pay What You Feel the performance is worth afterwards.

MERRIGONGX Supported Artists & Projects

Evolved out of a shared interest in contemporary performance and a desire to develop a collaborative creative process. The collective makes work that places cultural phenomena and forms outside of those traditionally shown in theatres, in order to deconstruct their more unsettling aspects. Applespiel returns to perform their new work Sorry Sorry Sorry.
Artist Profile
Founded by Artistic Director Michelle Maxwell, ADT is a developmental contemporary dance company, the only one of its kind in the Illawarra. Showcasing uNCOILEd eXposed - Development Showing, an experimental dance residency representing an unravelling of fresh choreographic talent.
Artist Profile
aXis is the new professional performance troupe from Circus Monoxide. In February 2021 they presented The Construct - Development Showing, a circus and contemporary dance through a bespoke cube sculpture.
Artist Profile
Catherine McKinnon is an award-winning writer who adapted her Miles Franklin shortlisted novel Storyland - Development Showing for the stage. Catherine has directed and helped develop many new Australians plays.
Artist Profile
Drew Fairley is an actor, singer, writer and director who has rattled around the globe for thirty years making people laugh and cry - in a good way. As Luck Would Have it - Development Showing, commissioned by Merrigong Theatre Company.
Artist Profile
Writer and theatre maker Kirby Medway and Solomon Thomas theatre maker, performer, puppeteer and video designer join forces to present their new work UFO.
Artist Profile
Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai Woman, award-winning international writer, teacher, consultant and artist, and was named the 2020 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year. Going Home - Development Showing is a co-commissioned work by Play Writing Australia and Merrigong Theatre Company.
Artist Profile
Lily Hayman is a theatre maker and performer from Sydney, she grew up on Dharawal land which was never ceded. Her work focuses on challenging notions of passive spectatorship, while staging the extraordinary magic of Australian stories. Presenting new work Fledgling.
Artist Profile
Ten Tonne Sparrow is a performance company creating work that uses storytelling, pop-sociology, pop-science and history to talk about the stories we tell about ourselves. Their new work is a tragic comedy rock opera by writers and musicians, Tom Hogan and Elana Stone. Presenting their new work Mount Hopeless, a tragic comedy rock opera.
Artist Profile
Formalised in 2018 after Merrigong’s second professional work with the group, The Outside Man, The Strangeways Ensemble meet every Friday to rehearse and develop skills, as well as engaging in a number of week-long workshops with some of the country’s leading theatre artists and companies.
Artist Profile

MERRIGONGX Projects 'Under Wraps'

Alicia Battestini is a performer, director and creator of physical theatre from Wollongong. Elsie for Vestri is an outlandish and tender exploration of grief and loss. It’s also a celebration of play as a coping mechanism. Created with video artist Mic Gruchy, physical character work combines with video-based performance to explore the chaotic, poetic, and hilarious world of ‘Elsie’: a gender-fluid twenty something who struggled with anxiety and depression. It does this from the perspective of several different characters, all of whom loved ‘Elsie’ before ‘Elsie’ disappeared.
Daryl Wallis is an accomplished composer, sound designer, keyboard musician, vocal coach and musical director. The Hour of Land is a personal meditation and dialogue between two of the oldest National Parks in the world, Yosemite National Park and the Royal National Park Sydney. Using an original piano score, projected imagery and narration, the work will explore the intersection of wilderness, creative practice and poetic contemplation. What is wilderness? What is the relationship of wilderness to art? What is the indigenous history and practice within ‘protected’ wilderness areas?
Emma Saunders is an Australian dance artist who works as a director, choreographer, performer, educator and curator. She will undertake a creative development solo project with a focus on reflecting and deepening her processes on making outdoor, local, en-masse site-specific dance works involving the professional dancing and broader community. Inspired by how outdoor works mediate the distance between audience and performer, the residency will explore the physical environment as a force to be acknowledged, celebrated, incorporated, reckoned with or reacted to as one might a silent but wieldy partner.
Frumpus developed from the rich and anarchic Sydney performance scene of the early 1990s. The collaborative practice of performance artists and comedians Cheryle Moore, Lenny Ann Low and Stephanie Hart, Frumpus explore provocative, grotesque and punctured ideals of female perfection. Their new work, Landed, navigates the world of luxury travel and obscene excess via physical humour and skewed imagery and soundbites from TV, film and advertising. Upending choreographed themes from Benny Hill to Alan Watts, The Goodies to Picnic at Hanging Rock, Landed travels into turbulent, anarchic and joyful self-satisfaction.
INTRANSIT.CO is an independent theatre company led by designer Katja Handt and director Michael Pigott, developing dramaturgical frameworks to articulate the contemporary experience. Fault Lines is a hybrid performance work currently in development that asks people to respond to the idea of environmental, health and economic crisis. Performers try to reconstruct a town’s disappearance from the fragments of evidence that remain, as the audience watches the model of the town sink. This work extends their interest in audience participation for creating
Jane has an extensive creative history as a writer, performer, choreographer, director and producer, who thrives in comedy, movement and song. Fiona Hiscock-Browne - A Memoir (The Unmedicated Version) is the complicated journey of one woman unconscientiously falling into a state of mania… possibly bipolar, possibly not. Currently in long form, Jane will develop for the stage, and bring Fiona’s wonderfully misunderstood and slightly unhinged yet colourful character to life.
Kay Proudlove is a South Coast performer, writer and composer who has toured worldwide with her live shows, and worked on various projects in the worlds of folk music, musical theatre and the dramatic arts. Dear Diary is a musical work that brings the stumbling, unsure and cringe-worthy naivety of her teenage diaries to the foreground in hopes that the audience will experience second hand embarrassment, a solid belly laugh, a few tears and a sense of familiarity and camaraderie. “I have certainly felt more love for teenage Kay while writing these songs and I hope that the show will give the audience a chance to reflect on how they feel towards their past selves, and ultimately about who they’ve grown to become.” says Kay.
Lhaleska is an experimental artist who creates film, sound, analogue & digital photography, directs performances and creates poetry and fine arts. In Her Hands will combine confessional poetry, live performance and video projection to explore different aspects of the human experience: pain, love, chance, resilience, strength and hope. The work will draw on her own story of growing up away from her birth country, covering significant transitions of her life (from becoming a teenager to an adult), and feeling a sense of loss, isolation and uncertainty, but also about overcoming hardship and bringing hope.
Neisha is vibrant director and variety entertainer who has spent the last 20 years of her life dedicated to performance. Blending a unique mix of physical bravado and character vulnerability, ChaChi is a vaudevillian style show about the journey of a girl growing up, surrounded by circus misfits. Combining storytelling, gender play, contemporary circus feats, daredevil stunts and a host of eccentric characters, this physical performance utilizes experimental set structures and props.
Rocking Hoist is Alex Tutton & Lauren Scott-Young. Alex is a playwright and theatre maker, whose creative practice involves exploring the digital world and how it intersects with myth building, accountability and queerness. Lauren is an emerging Sydney artist who has created and performed in works both internationally and locally. There is a fireplace at the end of the world started with the idea of a TED Talk set at the end of world. Amongst a corporate setting (where big business say they are a family, not a business) the wheels eventually fall off revealing something much more unhinged!
Rose is an actor and performance maker who values collaboration, community and communication. Seeded in a Bouffon workshop, Monsignor Hell & the Catholic School Girl combines two parts of her practice: the storyteller and the clown. Bringing stories from a Catholic upbringing together with the clown, elements of mockery and play in this work cultivate the performers’ complicité with the audience: let there be laughter, surprise and the truth!
Writer Hung-Yen Yang is your ‘typical’ Australian-Indonesian- Chinese mash-up and a graduate of the Australian Film Television Radio School (AFTRS). A Practical Guide to Self-Defence is his account of growing up Asian in Australia. Part play, part instructional guide it follows his unlikely transformation from pacifist, asthmatic geek into a brutal, fighting machine. It is sprinkled with practical demonstrations like how to fall and how to punch as we hurtle towards our central existential contradiction – ‘How to defeat the beast within?’