It is an absolute thrill to watch the emergence of an artist – to be audience to their imagination and to feel the verve and excitement of their proliferating possibilities. Artslab is Shopfront’s residency program for artists under 25 -and it provides time, space, structure, support for a small group of artists to invest in, uncover, discover, delight in their own practice under the caring and skilled eyes of a range of professional artists. More about the program can be found here:

For these artists this is a year of discovery and exploration, and I am absolutely excited to for them and I’m excited about them.

This is a small note of introduction…

Ava-Karuso_Web-Head[1] Ava Karuso is a young playwright and improviser from Sydney.

Her first writing credit was the short play Spoons and Forks, performed and published in 2008. Since then her love of playwriting has grown, her most recent short play Guilt of the Vaudevillian was performed in the 2011 Short and Sweet festivals in Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast and Sydney. Ava was also part of the Australian Improv Team who travelled to Ottawa to perform in the Canadian Improv Games. She has studied improvisation with Impro Australia, Second City L.A. and iO West (Los Angeles). Ava is very interested in bringing improvisation and playwriting closer together and hopes to discover more about both fields in reflection of one another. She is particularly interested in using the ideas of improvisation and playwriting to explore the horror genre and find a way to bring true horror to the stage. Ava is greatly inspired by playwrights Edward Albee and Martin McDonough, and the darkly comic nature of her work reflects this. At the end of ArtsLab12, Ava hopes to have a stronger understanding of both her fields, as well as a new outlook on the art and capabilities of the theatre.

Tanya-Web-150x150 Tanya Thaweeskulchai is a writer who has recently branched out into the area of theatre and performance.

In 2011 Tanya was part of the PACT Ensemble and participated in a collaborative performance-making effort of Beguiled. She is currently undertaking her PhD in English (Creative Writing) at the University of New South Wales. Both her research project and her work with ArtsLab are geared towards her interest in the dynamics of words and sentences; the movement of their physical and aural qualities. Through the development of this poetry/performance script, she intends to push the spoken language and the language of the body to the extreme so that one might express what the other would not, thereby augmenting the divergences and convergences between them. By drawing upon the writings of Artaud, Deleuze and Guattari, Rilke and Sarah Kane, the project will negotiate the violence that is inherent the act of speaking, the decision not to speak, and the distortions that are created as a result of these encounters.

Sepydeh_Baghae_Webi[1] Sepy Baghaei is a theatre-maker with a penchant for creating work that places real material, collected from the everyday world, into the heightened theatrical realm. During ArtsLab12, Sepy is aiming to bring together her passion for devising and sound design to create a work that investigates the effect of found sound on an audience when placed in an isolated theatrical context.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Performance from the Australian Academy of Dramatic Art in 2011, Sepy has been exposed to a range of working processes under mentors such as Iain Sinclair, Anca Frankenhaeuser, Eddi Goodfellow and Andrew Davidson. She has also applied the skills of the Actor/Creator/Producer developed during her studies to a range of independent projects, creating work for the Sydney Fringe (2010-2011), the Mardi Gras Colour Blind Project (2011), and Adelaide Fringe (2012), in various capacities including director, performer and sound designer.

KIhat_Reid-Web[1] Khat Reid is an emerging artist working across various platforms including painting, drawing, performance, tattoo, and spiritual art. She recently completed a double degree with bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Performance Studies, with Honors at UNSW.

As a part of ArtsLab, Khat will be exploring the power of artificial hair. She will attempt to address the joys and woe’s one can experience in developing a relationship with one’s replacement hair. She will wrestle with everything from merkins to moustaches.

Polly-Nowicki-Web-Head[1] Pollyanna Nowicki is an emerging stage and screen actor with skills in physical theatre, singing and photography. She graduated from Sydney Theatre School in 2008 with an Advanced Diploma of Classical Acting and a Diploma of Theatre Performance. In 2009 she was awarded a Commendation for Acting from the Sunday Times NSDF Emerging Artist Awards for her performance in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Several performances and classes with Michael Pigott led to her first introduction to Shopfront Theatre in his show “242424″ – a 24-hour viewpoints experiment featuring 24 performers. Since then Pollyanna has been in and out of Shopfront watching her friends experience the ArtsLab residency. She continues to involve herself with experimental and hybrid theatre; most recently in Michal Imielski’s “How to Lose Sight” (Shh Theatre Company) – a location driven exploration into blind life – and Danielle O’Keefe’s dangerously different Romeo & Juliet, “Cursed Hearts”, (ATYP). Inspired by this kind of unconventional performance art, Pollyanna aims to explore interactive storytelling through performance, film and image, driven to create an experience that blurs the boundary between audience and performer. She decided to apply for ArtsLab12 because she too would like to discover more about the artist within.

Maria-White-Web-Head[1] Maria White is an emerging artist with a background in performance making. Maria generally works collaboratively as a performance maker (in the collective Friends WIth Deficits) and as as a curator (in the collective Groundwork). Groundwork will be curating the 2012 – 2013 Tiny Stadiums Festivals. In 2011, Maria completed a practice-based project with first class Honours at UNSW, under the supervision of Clare Grant and Bryoni Trezise. With Friends with Deficits, Maria has undertaken a mentorship with Clare Britton (of My Darling Patricia) through the Vacant Room program at PACT. Maria has performed at Underbelly Arts Festival, Next Wave, The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Under The Radar (Brisbane), PACT and The Red Rattler. This year she will be honing in on her interdisciplinary solo practice through the ArtsLab residency.

Maria’s idea is to research rituals of singing and the use of voice in different communities, whilst using that research to develop a project that may or may not look like a performance piece. Maria wants to explore hybrid art forms whilst drawing upon the camp, theatrical aesthetics of 20th Century musicals.