Catherine Simmonds OAM
Catherine is one of Australia’s leading community cultural development theatre makers. As an artistic director, her focus is the space between the ‘lived experiences’ of communities and the language of art.
She was a lead actress with the IRAA theatre for ten years, displacement, identity and cultural minorities, were central performance themes.
As the founding director of the Brunswick Women’s Theatre, cultural diversity was integral to her ‘modus operandi’. For more almost three decades she’s provided marginalized people with a creative space in which to ‘discover the need to speak and to speak the unspoken’. The community, become the actors, the devisors, the consultants and protagonists of their own and each other’s stories.
Her work has powerfully addressed some of most pressing issues of our time including, intercultural and cross-generational relationships, identity and changing values, changing futures for indigenous people, public and private violence, trafficked women and the asylum seeker story, mental health and addiction. Her work has attracted the collaboration NGOs, local government, health and community organsiation and invloved some outstanding Australian artists.
Her contemporary theatrical productions have inspired and touched the hearts of audiences regardless of class or culture.
For much of my working life I have been a graphic designer, most recent years with the great team at The Hive Design. Then a sideways career step into filmmaking, completing a Masters of Documentary at VCA, University of Melbourne. As important to me… a long journey in the physical arts – dance, aikido, yoga and tai chi, endless hours of joy and growth and great communities.
After much soul searching, my personal mission statement as an independent filmmaker would be:
To capture moments of extraordinary transformation in people’s lives when we are pushed to be ‘more than ourselves’.
I also have the nuanced legacy of living in Apartheid South Africa till my late 20’s so I will add to the above:
A bit allergic to personal and political unfairness, institution greed, nationalism and any whiff of exploitation.
For me StoryIsConnection is an exciting antidote to racism, and I have great satisfaction on many levels being part of the creative team. The StoryIsConnection process is simple – know thyself, know the other. And then make a bit of noise, which is where I come in to document this journey in interesting and vibrant ways so it has a life beyond the workshops and performances, and radiates out into the world.
Feifei Liao is both one of the founders, and the managing director of ‘Story is Connection’.
Her past experience includes being the project manager for ‘Act of Translation,’ ‘Act of Translation Reaches Out,’ and ‘Be You Be Scene (Stories at the Heart of Change).’
She’s had multiple roles as an elected student representative, a consultant, and a campaigner across different institutes and organisations.
She is dedicated to championing collaborative and strategic partnerships and programs to bring positive change in international students’ personal development and experience.
Her coordinators from high school describes her as ‘a true believer.’ She continues to inspire and lead the team to support our community.
‘Everything is Nothing. Nothing creates Everything. We start to understand better when we make what we’ve known to unknown.’