Introducing our Melbourne Production Cast and Crew

The Creatives

Playwright and producer Samah Sabawi

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Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Canadian-Australian writer and commentator.  She has travelled the world and lived in its far corners, yet always felt as though she was still trapped in her place of birth Gaza.  The war torn besieged and isolated strip has shaped her understanding of her identity and her humanity.  So what else could Sabawi do but to indulge in Gaza’s overwhelming presence and to succumb to tell the stories.

Samah Sabawi is co-author of the book Journey to Peace in Palestine and writer and producer of the plays Cries from the Land and Three Wishes, both were successfully staged in Canada in 2003 and 2008. Sabawi’s writings have appeared in various media outlets including AlJazeera English, AlAhram, The Globe and Mail, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and many others. Her poetry has been featured in various magazines and books, most recently in an anthology published by West End Press titled With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century. Samah Sabawi is currently co-editing an anthology of plays for the Playwrights Canada Press, Canada’s major publisher and distributor of Canadian drama. Her recent play Tales of a City by the Sea will be published as part of the anthology in early 2016.

Co-producer and actor Majid Shokor

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Majid has been acting for over 25 years. He also directed whilst teaching drama in Lebanon for four years and has written his own works. He has won many awards in his home country of Iraq and has been a member of the Iraqi National Theatre Company and a long-time member of the Iraqi Theatre Artists Syndicate.

Since arriving in Australia in September 2001, Majid has appeared in many plays in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide including, Kan Yama Kan directed by Robin Laurie. Getting in directed by Jean-Pierre Mignon, Subclass26A  directed by Bagryana Popov at 45 Downstaires for which he got Green Room Best Actor Award nomination 2005, Carrying Shoes Into The Unknown at LaMam, Homebody /Kabul by Tony Kushner directed by Chris Bendal , Theatre@ risk company and  The Cove season, 8 short plays by Daniel Keen and directed by Matt Scholton presented at the Dog Theatre, for which he got another Green Room Best Actor Award nomination 2009.

Majid was also seen at Belvoir St Theatre in The Cool Room which was presented by Performing Lines and In Our Name, a play Written and directed by Nigel Jamieson and was presented by company B.  His screen credits include a guest role in City Homicide and an actor and cultural consultant in the feature film Lucky Miles.

Majid holds a Master degree in Community Cultural Development with honor degree from VCA / Melbourne University.

Director Lech Mackiewicz

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Lech directed theatre in Poland, Korea, Japan and Australia, so his understanding of cross-cultural undertaking is based on first hand experience. In Japan Lech worked with the Japanese actors and creatives for Suzuki Company Of Toga and for ACM Mito. His work was seen at a number of international theatre festivals in Japan: Nagoya, Tokyo, Toga. Last year Lech worked on a bilingual co-production of Cho Cho by Daniel Keene for the National China Theatre and Melbourne Arts Centre. In Australia Lech co-founded Auto Da Fe Theatre Company with 2 NIDA graduates Justin Monjo and Jaime Robertson in 1987. In the 1990ies Lech received 3 individual grants from the Australia Council for Arts. He is also the 1991 winner of a New South Wales Performing Arts Scholarship.

Graduate of the National State Academy of Theatre in Cracow (Poland) in 1983, and from UTS Sydney in 1987. Directing secondment with the Moscow Arts Theatre 1991.  His directing credits include: KING LEAR for Playbox ( Melbourne) touring nationally and to Japan and Korea, THE HOUR BEFORE MY BROTHER DIES for Jaracza Theatre (Poland), KRAPP’S LAST TAPE for Auto Da Fe Theatre Co. (Poland, Australia, Japan) FELLINIADA (Belvoir. St. Theatre). SO CALLED K. for Mito Acting Company ( Japan), BECKETT IN CIRCLES for Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT; Japan), AN OAK TREE for Teatr Wegierki (Poland), NaGL for Teatr Auto Da Fe ( Sydney) DITTO.A STORY ( La Mama Melbourne), KAFKA TANCZY for Teatr Zydowski (Warsaw) and most recently EVERYMAN & THE POLE DANCERS at Metanoia Theatre (Melbourne).

Given his experience as an actor and director who has lived and worked in Europe, Japan and Australia, Lech’s theatre-writing displays the space required for collaborative expression and the ambiguity to allow diverse cultural readings. “What marks this work as arresting and worth attending is the cultural prism that the writer and director, Lech Mackiewicz, “a Polish artist immigrant”, brings to this exercise of his view of living in Australia in 2010. At least I found it so – a provocative experience to take on board on several different levels: Content and style at least two of those levels, consciously (in time the subconscious, perhaps). Kevin Jackson’s Theatre Diary. On NaGL

Assistant Director Izabella Mackiewicz

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Izabella studied acting and theatre at the National Academy Of Theatre in Cracow (Poland) and UNSW in Sydney (Australia).

She collaborated with Lech Mackiewicz on a number of projects. Her most recent theatre credits include: NaGL (Auto Da Fe Theatre ;Sydney), Milobojcy (Teatr Nowy Zabrze; Poland), Ditto (La Mama; Melbourne), The Author ( Teatr Siemaszkowej Rzeszow; Poland), Skierniewicer ( Poland). She also appeared in some feature films and translated plays for theatre from English to Polish.

The Cast

Nicole Chamoun

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Nicole is thrilled to be making her theatre debut here at La Mama in this beautiful production.  Since starring as ‘Layla’, in the SBS series ‘kick’ (2007), Nicole has gone on to appear in many television series such as ‘city homicide’ & feature films Including ’10 terrorists’ (2012) & ‘Last Dance’ (2013). Stay tuned to see Nicole in an upcoming feature film, titled ‘Be Less Beautiful’, starring alongside the talented Osamah Sami. Nicole is currently studying at The Melbourne Actors Lab under the guidance of Peter Kalos.

Osamah Sami

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Osamah is a failed cricketer, struggling actor–writer–director and floundering comedian. Born in war-torn Iran to half-Kurdish, half-Iraqi parents and escaping to call Australia home have moulded him into a confused soul. It is a miracle he’s still entrusted to perform on stage. Credits include Sinners, Long Day’s Dying, Blackbox 149, Two Executioners (La Mamma); Baghdad Wedding (Belvoir St.); The Container; Homebody/Kabul (Big West) and Saddam the Musical, which saw him deported from the U.S. (his name, ‘Osama’ and barracking for the ‘Bombers’ were contributing factors).

He played lead roles in films Saved (opposite Claudia Karvan) and 10 Terrorists! TV shows include Kick, City Homicide, East West 101, Sea Patrol & Rush. Contrary to popular belief, he has played a terrorist only twice. Osamah also created an 8-episode sitcom for SBS (Baghdad to the Burbs) and has written a vague number of plays and short films. His memoir ‘Good Muslim Boy’, published by Hardie Grants, will be released in May 2015. He is currently working on two feature films and being a better father.

Emily Coupe

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Emily was born and raised in Melbourne and has been passionate about acting and singing from a young age. Her first theatre experience was in primary school – performing in both the schools improvisational group and choir ensemble – which sparked her passion for the arts. Since then she has continued her training at Musical Theatre school Showfit, Melbourne Actors Lab and The Rehearsal Room, and has appeared in various T.V shows such as Offspring, web-series, short-films, adverts and feature films around Melbourne. She is also recording an album of original music with producer Lee Bradshaw, which she is excited to release later this year. Emily is thrilled to be joining the cast of The Tales Of A City By The Sea this season, and looks forward to sharing this story with you all.

Wahibe Moussa

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Wahibe is a performance-maker, writer and Green-Room award winning actor. She has gained respect as a Cultural/Language Consultant in theatre and television.  She creates short fiction, poetry and performance where the personal is political, exploring the exchange of power within human relationships. Wahibe’s practice is informed by her own experiences as a migrant child, her collaborations with Refugee Artists and a commitment to understanding Indigenous performance and story making practices. Her solo performances and writing speaks to contemporary social experience, utilising spoken word and movement with audio-visual and sculptural elements: TIME PIECE (Immigration Museum 2002) TOUCH(DON’T)TOUCH (2000), SOME KIND OF LOVE (2010), BREATH OF GOD (2012).

As an actor Wahibe has been seen on television and in independent theatre productions. In 2007, Wahibe received the Green Room Award for Female Actor in an Independent Production, for her role as Mahala in Theatre @ Risk’s 2007 production of Tony Kushner‘s Homebody/Kabul.

As a Community Artist, Wahibe worked collaboratively in Community Theatre, Visual Art and Writing Projects in Melbourne and Sydney. Projects include THE TORCH (on its Shepparton tour in 2001), which led to drama and leadership workshops for young Australian Muslim women In Shepparton and Melbourne. Wahibe toured Australian Capitals with Medicen Sans Frontiere as a Storyteller, retelling the stories of six Refugees from Africa, Chechnya, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. BETWEEN MEMORY AND HOPE: TEARS FOR THE FUTURE, The Iraqi Women’s Quilt and Story Project (2003-2005) where women shared their experiences under Saddam Hussein and then at the hands of the Australian Government, in textile art creating panels for 5 Quilts and a companion book. These quilts have been constantly touring Australian cities and towns ever since.

In 2009 Wahibe founded “Writer’s Nest“, for writers interested in exploring new territories and expanding known ground. She completed her Master of Writing for Performance 2012. In 2013 she received a Hot Desk Fellowship From the Wheeler Centre spending ten weeks writing and researching a new performance piece, In The Garden. Currently she is one of ten Dramaturgy Interns, a Playwriting Australia Fellowship initiative with MTC. Wahibe continues her online collaboratIon with German sound artist, Somer Abbas Yacoub.

Aseel Tayah

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Aseel is a vocalist and installation artists. She considers herself a non-traditional Arab Muslim girl. Born in Jerusalem she was raised a proud Palestinian by her parents in Qalanswa, Palestine. Torn between sustaining her identity and being forced to assimilate by a suppressive Israeli occupation of Palestine Aseel was forced to live the Palestinian Israeli conflict in her daily life. The result was that Aseel grew stronger, wanting to drive the changes she seeks to see in the world. Aseel seeks education through Art. She graduateed from the collage of arts with honour. Her art focuses on women rights, society & national identity.

Reece Vella

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Reece Graduated from The Actors College of Theatre and TV in Sydney in 2010, Reece Vella has been acting professionally for the past four years, gaining experience while working with the likes of Lech Machiewicz, Lex Marinos and Mario Philip Azzopardi. With a passion for new work his latest endeavors have been the world premier of “Il- Kappillan ta’ Malta” in July 2014 performed in Malta in Maltese, based on the English best selling novel by Nicholas Monsarrat and most recently performing in “Everyman and the Pole Dancers” in October 2014 at Metanoia Theatre under the Auto Da Fe company. Reece is delighted to be performing for the second time at La Mama since he holds this place close to his heart for its unquantifiable artistic and historical Australian value.

Ubaldino Mantelli

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Ubaldino is a relative newcomer to acting and performing. Since 2009, he has played major roles in community theatre in the Geelong region (Oscar Wilde in Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, ‘Mario’ in Miller’s A View From The Bridge, ‘Cripple Billy’ in McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, ‘The Actor’ in Mallatratt’s The Woman In Black, Dr Treves in The Elephant Man, ‘Bill Sykes’ in Oliver!). He has performed in several plays written and directed by Doug Mann for the National Trust and has undergone regular workshops and training, including the VCA’s Acting Studio 12. Ubaldino has been a producer and presenter on community radio and recently performed in Richard Kakol’s Vision Australia radio play, The Infinite Hotel. In 2013, Ubaldino performed in Daylight Savings, an ensemble-devised production led by James Pratt at Courthouse Arts. Ubaldino is the tallest member of his family band, The Mantelli Five.

Cara Whitehouse

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Cara is an actor, singer and voice teacher. Following graduation of her BA (Hons) Acting at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore she worked in children’s puppetry theatre and at the Singapore Arts Festival. Cara is a certified Fitzmaurice Voicework™ teacher and continues training in Knight-Thompson Speechwork this December in New York. She also continues her acting training at the Howard Fine Studio. Favourite credits include: Medea, Elektra, Macbeth, Conference of the Birds, Visible Cities, One More Year and The Wonderful World of Dissocia. Cara is excited to be making her La Mama debut in such an important, currently relevant story.

Production Crew

Set Designer Lara Week

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Lara is a Melbourne-based producer and designer for performance. Her background includes co-creating monthly community music event Deja in her home city of Sydney; leading play-building workshops for children with Galli Theatre, Berlin; making costumes for a children’s program in the Israeli Opera; and working with children in a youth club for refugees in Tel Aviv. Since 2011, Lara has been associate producer for Tribal Soul Arts, producing community programs and original performances in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the Netherlands, UK, and Australia. In 2013, Lara completed her PG Dip in Performance Creation (Design) at the Victorian College of the Arts. Her design credits include: The Conference of the Birds (Centre for Cultural Partnerships), The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden (VCA School of Drama), A Feat Incomplete (Old 505 Theatre), and Just Looking (VCA School of Dance). She is dedicated to creating spaces where people with different skills and perspectives can share ideas and produce work together.

Lighting Designer Shane Grant

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Shane has been Audio Visual Technician for St Kevins College for the past 8 years. Prior to that he was Production Manager with Strange Fruit for 6 years and Technical Manager at Gasworks Theatre for 4 years. Shane is an accomplished lighting designer having worked extensively with companies like Ranters Theatre, The Torch Project, NYID and many others. Shane has a BA Dramatic Arts (Production) VCA from 1994. Shane is currently a company director of Metanoia Theatre and the technical manager of the mechanics institute theatre in Brunswick.

Sound Designer Khaled Sabsabi

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Khaled works across art mediums, geographical borders and cultures to create immersive and engaging media based experiences. I’m a socially-engaged artist who specialises in multimedia and site-specific installations that often involve people on the margins of society. I have worked in detention centres, schools, prisons, refugee camps, settlements, hospitals and youth centres, in the Australian and broader international context. I’m interested in the individual and what defines humans, our experiences, anxieties and uncertainties. I make work that questions; rationales and complexities of nationhood and identity. I also make work that is in continual transfer from the physical to the philosophical, to interconnect the interrelatedness and cycles of life. www.peacefender.com

Sound Mixer Max Schollar-Root

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Max has his roots in The Australian Theatre for Young People and the NSW Performing Arts Unit State Drama Ensemble, Max found his passion in musical performance and composition while studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He has since played in many ensembles, currently works as a bandleader, tours nationally, and has produced six full-length albums. Recently he has been completing training to become a Registered Music Therapist at the University of Melbourne. Max is increasingly involved in multi-modal performance projects combining live music, technology, and dance, and is presenting this work with his group, Ungus Ungus Ungus, at music and arts festivals across Australia.

Stage Manager James O’Donoghue

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James is a theatre maker and designer in his final year Performing Arts at Monash University. In 2013 James undertook a technical internship at Monash Uni Student Theatre and designed multiple productions including The Threepenny Opera, Psycho Beach Party and a contemporary dance piece In The Fires, We Weep. Further work includes stage management of Boy Out of the Country presented by Larrikin Ensemble Theatre at 45 Downstairs, stage management of Little Dances at La Mama Theatre, Stage Management for Auto De Fa’s Ditto, design of The Bloom’s Ernest, lighting secondment to Emma Valente on The Rabble’s Room of Regret, design of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Monash Shakespeare Compay, assistant design for Attic Erattic’s The City They Burned and assistant design for Passion presented at the Arts Centre this month.

Assistant Stage Manager Nada Mustafa

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Nada is a Palestinian Australian, Having completed her Bachelor in Filmmaking, she went on to volunteer with Channel 31 as a floor manager for their Youth Network…she then progressed to complete an internship with Happening Films as their Production Assistant for their short film Golden Girl. She continued further study in Event Management and Public relations and continued to gain skills voluntarily as a 3rd Assistant Director for short films under Shekat Productions and has also voluntarily assisted in the Melbourne International Film Festival and Tropfest. She has organised small knit events and recently travelled to Palestine where she got to witness firsthand a slither of the daily Palestinian struggle. Upon her arrival back to Australia with her passion for all things creative and Palestine she has joined us as Assistant Stage Manager in her first role in the theatre industry that she can now add to her growing list of skills.

Photographer/videographer Ahmad Sabra

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Ahmad is an Australian Muslim Lebanese multi award winning international photographer. At the age of 5 Ahmad lost his eyesight in a tragic tractor plow accident. In what at first was considered a cruel joke, a stranger gave Ahmad a camera and a roll of film. Thinking it was a gun, Ahmad would squeal and point the camera at anyone that approached. Gradually his eyesight returned and he has continued to use the camera until today but with less squealing and sharper results. ” For Ahmad’s real bio please visit his website at Www.sabraimagery.com.au

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One thought on “Introducing our Melbourne Production Cast and Crew

  1. Joan Vella October 22, 2014 / 3:25 pm

    Please do bring Tales of a city by the Sea in Malta too. Here we can relate to it all so emotionally. Well done to all involved. Love to Reece Vella.

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