Now in its 10th year, Griffin Studio is the most successful program in Australia for providing artists with pathways to the mainstage. Throughout 2021, each Studio Artist will develop one or more projects with support from Griffin’s artistic team, while undertaking workshops on aspects of playwrighting and theatremaking. Studio Artists are deeply embedded in the fabric of the company, as they attend Opening Nights; get behind-the-scenes peeks of our 2021 shows; sit on our programming committee, helping to shape future seasons.
For the first time in 2021, the Studio is expanding! Thanks to the generous support of Mary Ann Rolfe, we’re recruiting four incredible actors to form the Griffin Studio Ensemble. These actors will assist our five Studio Artists in dramaturgical interrogation of their works—reading, performing and acting as touchstones for story and theatrical performance. We can’t wait to see the vital relationship between playwright and actor thrive under our very own roof in 2021!
Our Griffin Studio Artists for 2021 are:
Phoebe Grainer is a Kuku Djungan, Muluridji, Wakaman, Tagalaka, Kunjen, Warrgamay and Yindinji woman from Far North Queensland. Phoebe grew up on her remote traditional lands Yoolboonboo, and other Aboriginal Communities and regional towns throughout the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Phoebe studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, completing a Certificate IV in Aboriginal Theatre. Now based on Gadigal land, she studied at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting). She has performed in Saltbush (2017), Two Hearts (2018), The Serpent’s Teeth (2018), Doing (2019) and Rainbow’s End (2019). Phoebe is also a creative producer at Sweatshop Literacy Movement, mentoring Indigenous students from the Campbelltown region and editing a new Sweatshop anthology called Racism. Her recent essays, poems and short stories have appeared in The Lifted Brow, SBS Voices, Red Room Poetry and Sweatshop Women Volume One and Two. Phoebe has also been selected to be a part of the 2020-2021 BlackWrights program, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s 12-month playwriting development program bringing new First Nations work to the stages of Australia.
Nathan Harrison is a theatremaker who lives and works on Bidjigal and Gadigal country. He creates performance and games that explore ecology and complex systems science. As a solo practitioner and part of collectives Applespiel and Boho Interactive, he connects large ideas to personal, playful experiences. He has collaborated with scientists from institutions including London Science Museum, Stockholm Resilience Centre and Earth Observatory Singapore. His play How I Saved The Western Black Rhino premiered at Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in 2018. Nathan is currently working on projects investigating the future of artificial intelligence, mapping the process of community-based research, and how different species are adapting to climate change.
Taofia Pelesasa is of Tokelauan and Samoan heritage, born in Rotorua, New Zealand and replanted in Mt Druitt, Western Sydney. A graduate of the United School of Performing and Screen Arts (Auckland, Aotearoa) as an acting and writing student, he has worked as an actor, producer and writer in both screen and theatre in New Zealand and Australia. Highlights of his career thus far have been Young Shakespeare’s performance of Julius Caesar at the Globe Theatre in London, Auckland Theatre Company’s productions of Mary Stuart, A Frigate Bird Sings, Disorder and most recently, the National tour of My Own Darling. He was also core cast on the International tour of The Factory Musical throughout Australia and Scotland as well as the Australian and New Zealand tour of the Victor Rodger hit Black Faggot and the return season of At The Wake at the Herald Theatre. Taofia also wrote and co-produced short films The Promise of Piha and Maria, both of which successfully travelled the international film festival circuit. Piha received a special mention at the prestigious ‘imagiNATIVE Film Festival’ in Toronto and Maria received funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, being selected to represent New Zealand as part of the Department of Tourism’s cultural road show of South America and winning the ‘Most Popular Film’ award as part of the PBS Online Film Festival. As a writer, Taofia has been mentored by Sima Urale, Louise Tu’u and Victor Rodgers with his first short film Fish’n’Chip Friday screenplay being shortlisted for the 2012 Fresh Shorts initiative for the New Zealand Film Commission. His writing has also seen him receive mentorships with Script-to-Screen NZ in Auckland and International & Cultural Exchange in Parramatta, Sydney. His full length play Te Molimau was selected by Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney to be programmed in their 25A Season in August 2019. He was recently invited back in 2020 to develop his new work Hooka Wooka Fooka as an artist-in-residence. Independently, Taofia has worked on his own works, the most significant of which is Polinesia, which has had him spend a two-year research project between Sydney and Lima, Peru. Taofia is an associate Artist for Talanoa Storytelling—a Pacific-focussed storytelling platform based out of Sydney, Australia which has seen him work on projects such as the AV Series The Places we Call Home in collaboration with Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIIC) , Cowbird & PBS based out of Hawaii. This year Taofia will make a series of Pacific focused web-series pilots with the support of Screen Australia and Information & Cultural Exchange.
Diana Popovska is a Macedonian-born, queer actor, filmmaker and theatremaker living and creating on stolen Gadigal Land. Her work examines notions of culture, gender and explores the immigrant experience in Australia. Diana studied at the Atlantic Theatre School in New York City under Anya Saffir and Kelly Maurer from Siti Company. On film, Diana has been mentored by Baz Luhrmann and Miranda Tapsell. Diana runs queer independent theatre company LUME productions with fellow collaborators Brenna Harding and Mia Lethbridge. Their first work was the Australian premiere of Audrey Cefaly’s The Gulf, which saw Diana and Brenna play the two leading roles. Most recently, Diana worked with award-winning director, Kate Gaul, where she played Marjory in the Sydney Premiere of Jen Silverman’s The Moors. Diana also assistant directed for Gaul on Siren Theatre Company’s acclaimed production, Penelope. Diana’s theatre credits include: Cowboy Mouth, which she produced alongside Nicholas Denton, Metamorphosis, Never Let Me Go, The Hero Leaves One Tooth, Macbeth and The Hypochondriac. As a filmmaker, Diana has worked with Blunt Gorilla Production House and GoodStyle Productions. Diana has written and directed several short films and the award-winning short documentary, What If We Are Different?, as well as releasing Plans, a seven-episode web series which she wrote, directed, produced and starred in. Diana recently finished filming the upcoming Stan series, Bump. Her other TV credits include Rake and feature film Skinford.
Dylan Van Den Berg
Dylan Van Den Berg is a Palawa writer with family connections to the northeast of Tasmania. In 2020, his play way back when received the Griffin Award, was Highly Commended for the Max Afford Award and shortlisted for the Patrick White Playwrights Award. Other plays include Dig (Island Magazine), Milk (The Street Theatre), The Camel (Fringe at the Edge), Why am I a Fish? (Short+Sweet) and Blue: a misery play (First Seen/The Street Theatre). Van Den Berg studied drama at ANU and the State University of New York.
Thanks to the generous support of Mary Ann Rolfe, we’ve recruited four incredible actors to form the first ever Griffin Studio Ensemble. Throughout the year, these actors will assist our five Studio Artists in dramaturgical interrogation of their works—reading, performing and acting as touchstones for story and theatrical performance.
The actors forming the Griffin Studio Ensemble are:
Since its inception in 2011, the Griffin Studio has seen 39 exceptional artists move through the program. Meet them all here.
Supporting the Studio is a three-year commitment of $5,000 annually, which can be made individually or by a syndicate of donors. Donors follow the development of artists and their work over the course of their residency and beyond. In the seven years since its inception, the Studio program has engaged 39 artists and has led to 18 professional productions. Former Studio Artists have worked at every major theatre in Australia, demonstrating the important contribution of our Studio donors.
To find out more, or to arrange a meeting to discuss the Griffin Studio, please contact our Development Manager, Frankie Greene, on 9332 1052 or email [email protected]