Meet our Deadly Fringe Artists and Producers

Coming to the second year of Deadly Fringe, we continue our collaboration with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company for this program to support First Nations artists and producers.

When we introduced Deadly Fringe – our Artist Development program to unearth and nurture new works by First Nations artists and producers – last year we knew the impact and results would be good. We just didn’t realise quite how good! So, we’re super excited to be entering the second year of the program, run in collaboration with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company.

This year we have three First Nations artists Sandy Greenwood, Declan Furber Gillick and Sermsah Suri Bin Saad, who will present their work in the Festival for the Deadly Fringe program. They’ll get guidance from ILBIJERRI, support from the Deadly Producers, and of course from the awesome Melbourne Fringe team.

So, who are the Deadly Producers? Glad you asked! Our two emerging First Nations producers are Caleena Sansbury and Laila Thaker. They will work closely with the Fringe team to deliver the 2018 Festival together as well as help produce the Deadly works. 

Now let us introduce you to the five artists and producers who will make Kulin country even Fring-ier, and Fringe even Deadlier. 

Sandy Greenwood 

Sandy is an award-winning First Nations actress, writer and producer descended from the Dunghutti, Gumbaynggrir and Bundjalung tribes of the East coast of Australia. She has performed with leading theatre companies in Australia and internationally, including Sydney Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and Seattle Theatre Company.

“Being a part of the Deadly Fringe program means I can come back to my cultural home of Melbourne, after three years in Los Angeles, collaborate with artists I love and respect, tap into an incredible pool of resources and creative support, and finally share a story that I feel like I’ve been writing my whole life. Deadly Fringe has given me the cultural space and creative tools to develop my one woman show, Matriarchy and tell the true story of four generations of First Nations women in my family, in the safest and most supportive of environments. I am eternally grateful, inspired and excited.” 

Declan Furber Gillick

Declan is an inter-cultural Arrernte writer, performance artist, storyteller and musician. You may have seen Declan performing at cultural events; now he is also active in theatre writing and directing.

 “Werte! I’m pleased and honoured to have been accepted into Deadly Fringe 2018 to work with ILBIJERRI and Melbourne Fringe on Warundjeri country, the territories of the Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation. As an Arrernte Sovereign National and descendent of Irish migrants, I am proud to represent atyenhe atweye, atyenhe apmere, Mparntwe and my Irish-Anglo families from down in Frankston. I’m so appreciative to those who have worked behind the scenes and fought for emerging First Nations Artists like me to have access to funding, professional mentoring and training opportunities. Cuts to arts funding in recent years have limited the capacity of countless organisations across the country to offer programs like this one to independent artists. As such, I approach this privilege with gratitude and humility. I step forwards with a thirst for new skills and an ambition to foster, strengthen and grow my relationships with other Black, Aboriginal, Koori, First Nations and Sovereign artists and cultural organisers. I also maintain my commitment to pushing for change within the arts that we might see more high-calibre work from even more dangerous independent thinkers and creatives from all walks of life in our ever-diversifying and ever-beautifying multi-cultural, multi-lingual community. At this confusing and tumultuous time, we need fierce, bold, engaging new work from people of all ethnicities and classes that reflects, documents and challenges our conceptions of ourselves and the world. Kele mwerre.” 

Sermsah Suri Bin Saad

Suri is a performing artist specialising in dance and theatre. However, he also seems to work in every possible art field; you may have discovered him through choreography, opera, theatre fashion, modeling or Indigenous television. Oh, and did we mention that he was also on So You Think You Can Dance?

Liyarn — a connection to spirit, culture, country and your instinctual knowledge

“I’m a proud Nyikina man from Derby in the West Kimberleys. I have been an independent artist for over 20 years and like many others have had to work hard in this industry, specifically as an Aboriginal person. Over this time, I have collaborated with many artists from all walks of life through various mediums. I have learnt so much about my culture and the importance of sharing our history and stories of resilience. For too long we have found ourselves getting lost in this world of technology, being immersed to the point that we have become so dependent on and have lost part of our own instinctual knowledge — our Liyarn.  

Now feels like the right time in my life to share my story and my experiences — to give back to the community and teach society the importance of Indigenous protocol. The Deadly Fringe has enabled me to do this. It is a fantastic program that gives our mob a platform and a voice to communicate our rich and beautiful culture. Being a part of this wonderful initiative, with its amazing creative team, has been an overwhelming and empowering experience.”

Caleena Sansbury

Caleena has been a part of the arts industry for many years and is currently a freelance performer, dancer and choreographer. She finds it important to understand how to put ‘works’ together from a producer’s perspective.

“I’m a proud Narrunga, Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna woman from South Australia. To me, being a part of the Deadly Fringe Program means that I can have the opportunity to begin my career as a producer. Having been a part of the art industry for many years now as a free-lance performer, dancer and choreographer I can see just how important it is to also have an understanding of how ‘works’ are put together from start to end from a producer and not just as the performer.

Being versatile across all genres in the arts is what makes longevity possible for artists. It’s also crucial for Indigenous mobs to be across all different areas so that Indigenous works can have Indigenous producers, directors, CEO’s you name it, leading the way for the future generations to come.

I hope to one day be able to empower younger Indigenous kids to have confidence to run their own festivals and produce works from all over.”

Laila Thaker

Laila is a mainland Torres Strait Islander (Merriam Mir woman) based in Naarm (Melbourne). Laila has been performing for over 15 years. Along with her experience in stagecraft, film, playwriting and directing.  Last year she started her own non-for-profit organisation Black Shell, a grassroots arts and performance initiative for First Nations, POC and Black folk driven by WOC. Fun fact: Laila is also a veteran Melbourne Fringe performer.

 “I’m thrilled to be part of the Melbourne Fringe team whose core values align with my own as an Artist. Mainstream have had their day in the sun – I am here to platform First Nations and marginalised peoples and reclaim our identities that the Industry have tried and failed to define.”


 Deadly Fringe is proudly supported by

Michael Kantor and Silvia Frassoni

Image: Dis Place, Dancer, Brent Watkins