18 May WELCOME TO FEM
Hello! Welcome to Freshwater Entertainment and Management. I’m thrilled and, to be honest, a little nervous about launching FEM today.
Thrilled because this concept has been brewing for some time. I’m a theatre director and producer (and sometimes a choreographer, writer and teacher) and have always been passionate about developing live theatrical productions that investigate authentic and compelling stories. From musicals to physical theatre, cabaret to comedy, at it’s core each project I’ve been involved with has circulated around challenging, gritty, gutsy stories. Stories that need to be told, shared, passed on and heard. Stories beyond the binary, stories with range. But always entertaining, with great production values and a good dollop of fun, seen on stages from Sydney to Singapore, London and Broadway. This is my thing, what I live for, and I can’t wait to show you the productions I have in store for the corporate, event and festival markets.
From Yes, Madam President a show I’m developing with Ms Bev Kennedy featuring Bev on piano and three bold and brave performers singing love songs and war cries to all the female presidents of the (their) world to My Trans Story a development on a production I directed for Trans Sydney Pride and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras which headlined the 2018 Queer Thinking festival at Carraigeworks and features real stories by transgender people celebrating their history and unique perception of the world. Plus, there’s a couple of other concepts in the works that I’ll be raving about very soon.
I’m also open to creating bespoke productions to fit your brief. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of Australia’s best creative and production teams and I love nothing more than being thrown a good brief and collaborating with my people to create some magic for your special event.
I’m nervous because this company is personal. Warning, I’m about to overshare.
A few years ago, things were going along just fine when my partner of 11 years and co-parent of our son announced they were going to transition from female to male. There was no warning, no obvious signs. Just a determined statement that he wasn’t going to die in an old woman’s body. When you love someone how can you argue with that. I’m not going to lie, this sent shockwaves through our world. We went through a difficult time navigating the shifting terrain of gender transition but I can honestly say, three years later, we’re stronger and immensely happier for it.
What’s this got to do with FEM? Two things.
Firstly. This journey introduced us to an incredible group of people, many of whom became very good friends. My partner, full of new found pride and confidence, along with our new friends began to share their stories. Marriage Equality was won via a bloody postal vote in Australia in late 2017 and the community turned their focus to the more marginalised groups promising no one will be left behind. More offers to speak at functions came in from corporate and community organisations and I realised I could offer support. Support in the way of providing a platform for people from diverse backgrounds to step up and take the spotlight.
I also began to notice I was connected to many other exceptionally talented people who are already doing their bit to activate the diversity and inclusion space and they too could benefit from one platform that promotes diversity (in all it’s diversity). Strength in unity as they say.
Performers like Bali Padda, chair of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s (MEAA) Equity Diversity Committee. Bali’s work has been fundamental in guiding the conversation on the representation of diverse communities in the mainstream media, particularly on stage and screenand Tom Campbell who advocates for equality and visibility for people of mixed ability in the performing arts and who’s show One Hander has toured internationally to great acclaim.
Creatives and performers like Andrew Bukenya who presents the Sydney Symphony Hour on Fine Music 102.5 FM and hosts 2by20 studio sessions, a late night cabaret series at City Recital Hall and is as charming and charismatic as they come. And Paul Cordeiro who was the resident choreographer on the original Sydney season of Disney’s The Lion King and worked on the 2000 Olympics opening ceremony and has more recently created Maru Mi – moving meditation to shift, breathe and calm the mind, mentoring people of all ages to live their best life.
And speaking of Olympics, there’s three time Australian Olympian, Shelly Gorman, who in 2010 was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and her partner in business and life, Kylie Jackes a personal trainer, sports model and body transformation specialist. Together Shelley and Kylie are Urban Warriors empowering epic humans to step into their greatness through the power of exercise, nutrition and mindset (with a big dose of self-love).
Have I even mentioned Kaya Wilson and Peta Friend yet? Peta is a visionary. She founded Trans Sydney Pride with a vision for all transgender people in Sydney area and beyond to live their best possible life and regularly shares her personal story of overcoming adversity at events all over Australia. Kaya is a scientist, studying the effects of tsunamis on the coast line and writer of all things queer and wonderful. He’ll hate me saying this as he’s super gracious but everyone who comes in contact with Kaya falls for him, he’s got the X factor plus he’s able to tackle complex issues with compassion and to write and speak about LGBTQIA+ perspectives with clarity. What’s not to love?!
We often complain that producers and casting agents don’t take risks and cast diverse people in mainstream stage and screen productions So by creating a platform for diverse speakers and artists to tell their stories I’m tackling this from the other side. Speak directly to the audience about diversity, break down the wall. Promote established artists from marginalised communities, train emerging speakers and give them opportunities to become really good at what they do. If the audience wants it producers will catch on.
The other part of the story is a little more indulgent. When my partner transitioned FTM I suddenly lost my identity. I was becoming the suburban house wife with a teenage son, a 4WD and (gasp) a husband. I needed to shake things up, to be more visible in the world. Hence the name. FEM. it’s not just an acronym for Freshwater Entertainment and Management, it’s me. A proud queer femme woman.
So that’s my story. Please get in touch, reach out, say hello. Follow our social streams and let me know how we can work together to achieve diversity on every stage, globally.
I can’t wait to get started.