Former Emerald resident Katrina Welsby is a young woman keen to meet the challenges of her world.
Katrina’s mother June, a staunch supporter of her daughter’s endeavours, says Katrina’s so often out and about these days that home life is often interrupted. Home is presently in Montrose where Katrina lives with her parents and a pair of pampered family dogs.
While Katrina has long been a role model and keen advocate for opportunities for the differently abled, she is also caught up with regular literacy and numeracy workshops and cooking classes. While still living in Emerald, Katrina helped out with the Emerald Community House (ECH) Childcare programme. During this time ECH helped facilitate a course of study to enable Katrina to qualify as a child-care assistant.
Katrina’s activity of first choice however remains firmly focused on the performing arts – a passion sparked by her experience over 14 years of learning theatre craft with the Dandenong based Fusion Theatre group under the direction of Dr. Jo Raphael from the Faculty of Drama and Education at Deakin University. Katrina’s mum June lends her daughter support behind the scenes as hard working Fusion Theatre hon. secretary.
Recently, well travelled Thespis theatre director Stathis (Steven) Grapsas, who shares Dr. Raphael’s mission for making the theatre experience accessible for all, recruited Katrina and two fellow performers from her Fusion Theatre ensemble to work at putting together a collaborative theatre piece exploring how the heroic impulse from Classical Greece is reflected in society today.
Now Katrina is looking forward to the first Sunday in July when she revisits Emerald to give residents the opportunity to see her at work on stage alongside her drama colleagues Alex Litsoudis and Andy McKinnon, at the Gem Performing Arts Centre in Kilvington Drive.
Their short but arresting group devised presentation is aptly entitled Heroes of the Past and Present. With astute direction from Steven, cast members have each chosen a pair of heroes for
Katrina herself appears as the gutsy Iphigena who sacrifices her life to appease the goddess Artemis in order to secure fair winds for Greek troops to sail off to battle. Katrina also channels the courageous Malala Yousafzai’s speech to the United Nations delivered following Malala’s escape and later recovery when shot by the Taliban.
Alex Litsoudis, eldest of the three players and a founding member of Fusion Theatre, shows how Syrian youngster Aylan Kurdi’s boyhood may have unfolded had he not drowned at such a young age in his family’s efforts to seek asylum. Alex also gives a stirring performance with his take on the age-old Ajax as a modern soldier with a conscience.
Youngest cast member, Andy McKinnon, adapts a monologue from Aeschylus portraying a Persian messenger delivering news on war casualties. Later, with support from fellow cast members, Andy depicts the disparity between routine reporting of recent refugee lives lost through drowning around the island of Lampedusa, and the tragedy as related by survivor Kebrat.
Coming off the back of a successful premiere season of Heroes of the Past and Present staged at the Hellenic Museum in the city in April, director Grapsas says he’s keen for his players to experience the challenge of putting their acting talents to the test in different theatre environments. The Gem with resident Gemco Players and a company brief to put the ‘community’ into theatre experience, seems a good fit.
Grapsas, of Greek extraction, spent a decade as resident director at Hydrama Theatre and Arts Centre on the Greek island of Hydra. In the meantime various projects designed to offer the marginalized members of society a voice have taken him all across the world.
In keeping with the director’s philosophy for making the theatre experience accessible, no formal admission charges for Heroes of the Past and Present will be asked for on the day, with the expectation that satisfied theatre-goers may opt to make a voluntary contribution towards production costs and assist Steven in his outreach projects.
Summary: Heroes of the Past and Present – a short presentation in six episodes exploring aspects of what constitutes heroism today with reference to Greek myth and theatrical traditions.
Director: Stathis Grapsas
Cast: Andy McKinnon,
Katrina Welsby, Alex Listsoudis.
Venue: The Gem Community Theatre, Kilvington Drive, Emerald
Date: Sunday 2 July 2017
Performance Times: 3pm and 6pm.
Admission: Free / Voluntary donations to cover production