"Time and space to create": introducing the recipients of our Artists in Residence Program

A dance created in a bathroom during lockdown. A daring new piece of grotesque theatre. A collaboration that will change the world. The recipients of our Artists in Residence program have big and bold ideas – read on to find out more.

Supported by the Besen Family Foundation, this new program is part of the reopening of our year-round venue Fringe Common Rooms, with five paid artist residencies for emerging and established artists. The recipients receive free rehearsal space at Fringe Common Rooms, $5000 to facilitate creative development and venue hire for a residency outcome.

One of the recipients, Marcus Ian McKenzie, put it perfectly: “Whilst space and time are the two most important concepts for understanding physics, they are also the two most important concepts for making performance.” While we can’t claim to understand even the basics of physics, we’re over the moon to be able to offer time, space (and money) to the following eight incredible artists.

Belinda Locke

Belinda is a theatre-maker, director, and disability advocate. Belinda’s artistic practice brings to light hidden stories and experiences through performance and participatory art, collaborating with artists across multiple disciplines. Her work has been acknowledged by the inaugural award of the Rose Byrne Scholarship for an Emerging Female Leader in the Arts (2016), selection for Australia Council for the Arts’ Sync Leadership program (2014) and shortlisted for the Graham F Smith Peace Award (2019). Belinda serves as the Chair of Arts Access Australia, the national advocacy body for arts and disability.

“I’m thrilled to further develop disability-led work drawing upon real life experiences of myself and others with the support of this residency at Common Rooms.” – Belinda Locke

Jonathan Homsey

Jonathan Homsey is an arts maker and manager interested in the intersection of street dance, visual art, and social engagement. He has a passion for community outreach using the moving body as a source of empowerment. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the United States of America, he immigrated to Australia in 2010 where his award-winning choreographic practice has evolved from a theatrical context to interdisciplinary installations across Australasia and Japan. He was the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Festival winner for Best Emerging Producer and one of the Take Over! 2020 artists with his successful dance film I Am Maggie.

“This Fringe Common Rooms Artist in Residency program provides an insurmountable opportunity for prototyping and experimentation. Especially in the world of project funding, it is so hard to find a mechanism to play, experiment and start establishing set elements in the space you envisage the work to be in. Taking the work I made in my bathroom during 2020 into Trades Hall will not be an easy feat but I am excited for the challenge.”

Cam Venn

Ko Taranaki tōku maunga (Taranaki is my mountain)
Ko Waingōngoro tōku awa (Waingōngoro is my river)
Ko Aotearoa  tōku marae (Aotearoa is my marae)
Ko Aotea tōku waka (Aotea is my canoe)
Ko Ngāti Ruanui tōku iwi (Ngāti Ruanui is my iwi)
Ko Ngāruahine  tōku hapu (Ngāruahine is my hapū)
Ko Turi rāua ko Rongorongo ōku Rangatīra (Turi and Rongorongo are my Great ancestors)
Ko Cam ahau ( I am Cam)

In 2020, when COVID hit and performing live on stage became illegal, Cam took this time to look deeper into his Māoritanga (Māori culture) as well as begin to unpick the colonial systems he was a part of and connect with his deeper values. Alongside his Mum, he began to learn te reo Māori, the language that had been beaten out of his Tīpuna (ancestors). He studied the history of Māori and became hungry with a desire to learn all he could and express and share his culture with the world. He started to explore how the theatrical experiences he had been working with could be expanded to create culturally safe and connected spaces for sharing stories, history, culture and healing.

Cam Venn is the creator of Balls Deep, Charles Horse Lays an Egg (MICF Golden Gibbo Winner 2018), and, most recently, Shark Heist.

“I’m really excited to have the support of Fringe Common Rooms to make this project happen. There is a whakataukī (a Māori proverb) “Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua” ‘I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past’. I believe doing the work to understand who our ancestors are is deeply connected with who we are now and where we are going.”

NazAree Dickerson

NazzAree is a Nyoongah/Burmese artist that is based in Melbourne. A theatre maker for 25 years, Naz has worked around Australia and internationally with leading arts organisations such as Ilbijerri Theatre Company, JUTE, and Yirra Yaakin. Currently a Program director for Ilbijerri Youth Ensemble. This is one of many hats she wears. Actor/Writer/Director and Producer, Naz has now stepped into a new era of her creative practice with her two debut plays ‘CRUMBS’ and Ngarngk; Giver of Life both premiering as part of Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival

“The Fringe Common Rooms Artist in Residence program is going to allow me time and space to create a daring new piece of grotesque theatre. Working with emerging First Nations artists I will focus on amplifying their voices and experiences of living in a digital world.”

Harriet Gillies and Marcus Ian McKenzie

Harriet Gillies is an award-winning performance artist working across a range of performance modes. She has presented across Australia, New Zealand and North America. Harriet created The Power of the Holy Spirit, winner of the Best Experimental Show award at the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival and had a sell-out season at the Flying Nun in Sydney.

Marcus is an artist living in Naarm/Melbourne, originally from Lutruwita/Tasmania. Rigorously conceptless and conceptually rigorless, he creates perforganisms that are for anybody but not everybody. Incorporating the body, text, sound design and meme-adjacent media, his work uses the relationship between audience and performer as a site for unexpected and bizarre new encounters, often involving schisms in language, parafictional world-building and bad dancing. In 2020 Marcus won Best Experimental Show at the Melbourne Fringe Festival for The Crying Room, commissioned by Melbourne Fringe and Arts Centre Melbourne for Takeover! 2020.

“This Common Rooms residency is invaluable to our process[…]. The combination of a space to work in and money to pay for our time as artists means we can play with new ideas, expand our process and abilities, and, most importantly, get heaps weird.” – Marcus McKenzie

The People (Katrina Cornwell and Morgan Rose)

The People unites the contrasting practices of visual theatre director Katrina Cornwell, contemporary American writer Morgan Rose, and the unique voices of the performers they collaborate with. Rose and Cornwell have been working together for over ten years. Inspired by pop culture, verbatim conversation, and everything on the internet, The People make theatre for and about today. The People are responsible for the award-nominated A Disorganised Zoom Reading of the Script from Contagion (2020 Melbourne Fringe Festival) and the sellout season of The Bachelor S17E05.

“Resources to explore without pressure or limitations are so necessary for creating work that smashes boundaries. This is a new collaboration and with it we hope to stretch ourselves both artistically and politically. We aim to change the world. A lofty, unachievable goal, yes, but why not? Thank you, Fringe Common Rooms, for letting us try and fail. Space for this is so important.” – Morgan Rose

Images clockwise from top left: Belinda Locke, Jonathan Homesy, Cam Venn, NazAree Dickerson, Harriet Gillies and Marcus Ian McKenzie, Morgan Rose.

The Fringe Common Rooms Artists in Residence program is proudly supported by:

The Besen Family Foundation Logo

Fringe Common Rooms is supported by:

Text reades the Aesop Foundation Maureen Wheeler AO and Tony Wheeler AO