Artist of the Month
In 2023, we're making it our mission to highlight a new artist from the Australian theatre scene each month.
This individual could be a performer, director, writer, reviewer, sound designer, musician, lighting designer, set designer, stage manager and so on.
If you feel like you'd know someone who would be perfect, contact us or hit us up on our socials @theatrethoughtsaus.
February - Ava Madon
Ava is an Actor and Singer graduating from Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. Her work spans theatre, musical theatre and television. She was most recently seen in Sport for Jove’s I Hate People/Timon of Athens, a production praised by the Sydney Morning Herald as “the pinnacle of Shakespeare in Sydney this century”.
Her other recent stage credits include If/Then (Neglected Musicals), Venus and Adonis (Sport for Jove),The Lucky Country (Hayes Theatre Co.), Macbeth, Othello (Sport for Jove), Merrily we Roll Along (Hayes Theatre Co.), Bells are Ringing (Neglected Musicals), Titanic the Musical: In Concert (The Marrollo Project) and Cinderella in Into the Woods with both Belvoir and Watch This, for which she was nominated for a Greenroom Award.
Ava is also known for her television work as an actor and presenter for the ABC, working on shows including Mikki vs. the World, Definitely Not News, The Packdown, Stacked!, Ava's Kitchen and Junior Eurovision.
What inspired you to get involved in theatre?
At the start it was very much about community. Growing up, my siblings and I used to do plays at a place called Marian Street Theatre, where kids from about 8-13 would put on plays for even younger kids. In hindsight, the bones of my career were formed there, but at the time, I just really liked the people, the friends, hanging out in the theatre.
I grew up in a fairly conservative area, where I always felt a little different and blah blah yada yada all those cliches about escapism and finding your people. I’m not entirely certain what brought me back to it when I was a bit older. I think it probably stemmed from my lifelong love of music and subsequently Musical Theatre.
But after a two year stint in television, the entire time longing to be back in the theatre, I discovered the reason I prefer to work in this medium more than any other is the magic of live art. That a thing is never the same twice, and it’s always growing and evolving and is connected to its audience. So in a strange way maybe I was always inspired by connection and community (something I am only realising as I sit down to write this).
Where did you start?
Ok whoops, I’ve already kinda answered this above, but I’ll elaborate! Marian Street Theatre ran like a professional theatre, but with kids at the helm. We’d do the whole bit, onstage and behind the scenes. Our directors were some really incredible and respected actors and creatives. I don’t think I quite appreciated how lucky I was to learn from them at that age, but now I do.
I had a big ol’ break from performing in my teenage years. I performed at school occasionally, but I really skipped the whole community musicals thing. When I decided I wanted to go to Drama school for Musical Theatre, I had not a clue what I was getting myself into. I remember showing up to my first audition for a music theatre course, sitting in the waiting room surrounded by girls with slick hair and a full face with heels. I was in Kmart leggings and a baggy t-shirt, just in case they wanted to see me move. By some miracle I got a place in the VCA foundation program, where I truly learned how much I didn’t know about what it meant to go to Drama school. Cut to a couple of years later and I was in Singapore with a scholarship to study at Lasalle College of the Arts for 3 years.
What have been the highs? What have been the lows?
Many - as any person who has ever tried to have a career in the arts. Lots of rejection of course, and joyous and triumphant highs too.
Audition nerves. Coming back from Singapore wasn’t great for my self confidence - it was this weird middle ground where Australia was home but didn’t feel like it. That feeling of being an outsider, that any person of colour has felt walking into a room of white men to audition, escalated by the fact that I felt separated from the industry in Australia too. All part of the journey though, and things like the ‘AOC Initiative’ which emerged from that shared feeling a lot of us had, helped me to connect with creatives who gave me my professional start in Australia.
The past couple of years have been pretty incredible and it came off the back of my hardest year. Weirdly, in the span of a few days at the end of 2021, my life turned on a dime, and it felt like all of my dreams came true. To cut a long story short, In the span of like three days, the Australian borders reopened, I took the first flight out to Singapore to reunite with my partner from who I had been separated from for nearly two years. The next day the travel bubble opened and I found out my partner could finally come back to Australia with me, and I got news I’d been cast in my first pro musical in Australia. I flew back with my partner to Australia, rehearsed into the musical the next day, and was on stage performing the day after that. Insanity.
I feel so incredibly blessed to be a working actor. It’s something I’ll never take for granted. This last year I was performing show to show, even juggling two shows simultaneously at one point, which when I look back blows my mind. There was a time in my life where I had convinced myself that I would never work. So I genuinely do feel that I’m living the dream, and I’m so incredibly grateful. That in itself is my greatest high.
Getting my first Greenroom Nomination was a pretty special moment too. Doing my first main stage show last year, and just the general journey I’ve had with ‘Into the Woods’ from Watch This to Belvoir. Doing my first Shakespeare and the family I’ve made in that world. ‘The Lucky Country’ - seeing a musical through from development stages to onstage a couple of years later was pretty special, and the tangible audience response to this show full of stories close to my heart was incredible too. I can feel myself beginning to write an essay so I’ll just end this section by saying it’s a gift to be able to have the career I have, and there’s so much love in my heart for all the experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met.
Where do you see yourself going or want to go?
I’ve really enjoyed working on plays over the past year, and that’s the direction I see myself moving towards. I’ve gained some clarity in my mind about the type of work I enjoy doing the most - and that’s anything with good text and ideally a collaborative process, be that a play or a musical. So I’m starting to be more selective in what I put myself forward for. But ideally I would like to do more plays this year. And it would be great to do some more pieces and characters that push me outside of my comfort zone in terms of style and type too.
On the cards for me in the next year and a bit is also a move to the UK. I think I’d be stupid not to use that visa and have that life experience. Who knows what it will be like career wise, but it’s something that’s important to me, so I’m planning towards that. I’d also love to do some more acting training while I’m overseas, so I’m looking into some grants to see if I can make that happen.
We’re starting the year strong with Parliament of Women at Belvoir 25a - a character and play totally different from anything I’ve done in the past. I’m really excited about it. I feel good things in my bones for the future
Book tickets to Not Now, Not Ever: A Parliament of Women now via:
Representation: T&E Management
Our Artists of the Month Gallery
Who will we highlight this year? Sign up to our Monthly or follow our socials to find out.
Lily Hayman (she/her)
Lily Hayman is a young writer, director and producer who lives and works on unceded Gadigal Land. She is the current Young Leader and Associate Producer at Shopfront Arts Co-Op, and one half of the all-female team behind Purple Tape Productions. Having received a Bachelor of Performance and First Class Honours (Theatre) at the University of Wollongong, Lily has since created and presented two fully realised productions: Fledgling (KXT 2022, MerrigongX 2021) and The Infinity Mirror (Shopfront ArtsLab 2021, BrandX Flying Nun Residency 2022). She has worked as Assistant Director to Margot Politis with Milk Crate Theatre and has been a member of the Harness Ensemble of artists with and without disability since 2021. In 2023 Lily is looking forward to directing Expiration Date and Party Girl as well as developing her own works Preparing for the Inevitable and Perfect Match.
Hayden Tonazzi (they/him)
Hayden Tonazzi (they/he) is a theatre and musical theatre director, and creative producer based in Gadigal. A graduate of the NIDA MFA Directing program, this year they commence their appointment as Artistic Associate with the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), after being an Associate Artist at the Kings Cross Theatre (KXT).
As Director, their play credits include Shack by George Kemp for ATYP, Tell Me Before The Sun Explodes by Jacob Parker for KXT, the Australian Premiere of Significant Other by Joshua Harmon for The New Theatre, This Genuine Moment by Jacob Parker for La Mama & The Old 505. Their musical theatre credits include Miracle City by Nick Enright for NIDA, Carrie: The Musical for The Depot Theatre, Parade at The Seymour Centre, and The Hatpin at The King Street Theatre. This year they will be developing a new work titled Pickled (كبيس) for PYT Fairfield, creating a new youth-devised work titled Stop. Drop. And Listen. for Shopfront Arts, and directing a new Australian play, The Last Train To Madeline by Callum Mackay for Fever103.
Sarah Carroll (she/they)
Sarah Carroll (she/they) is an award winning Pasifika queer and neurodiverse writer, performer and producer working on Dharug Land (Western Sydney). Sarah has two successful one woman shows under her belt, ‘Cherry’ (Sydney Fringe Award Winners and Hollywood Fringe Nominee) and ‘Unkissed’ (Developed with Shopfront – ArtsLab). They also run their own production company Sour Cherry Productions that has successfully produced works in the indie theatre scene and fringe circuits.
Almitra Mavalvala (she/her)
Almitra (She/Her) is a Sydney-based, Persian Pakistani, performing artist, writer, composer and independent producer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music (Music Theatre) from the Australian Institute of Music. Almitra’s theatre credits include Fiddler on the Roof (Willoughby Theatre Company) & Kinky Boots (Packemin Production). She was also part of the Feminist Comedy show ‘Tough Titties’ as a featured musical artist. Her screen credits include, a short film, ‘Red Lantern’ (Noah Films, Supporting Female Lead)
Tiffany Wong is a theatre-maker with a disability working across Gadigal and Wurundjeri lands. She is an Australian-born Chinese artist with Singaporean and Malaysian heritage.
Tiffany is a director for stage. She is the 2024 Cosgrave Associate Artist for Bell Shakespeare. Her credits include Boom (Slanted Theatre & KXT bAKEHOUSE), Short Blanket (Slanted Theatre & Meraki Arts Bar), Lady Precious Stream (Slanted Theatre & The Flying Nun at Brand X), Three Fat Virgins Unassembled (Slanted Theatre & KXT bAKEHOUSE), and Ching Chong Chinaman (Slanted Theatre). She has also worked as an Assistant Director to Courtney Stewart for Top Coat (Sydney Theatre Company), to Lucy Clements on Iphigenia In Splott (New Ghosts Theatre Company), and as a Directorial Assistant to Richard Carroll on Murder For Two (Hayes Theatre Co), and to Javaad Alipoor on Things Hidden Since The Foundation of the World – Creative Development (National Theatre of Parramatta).
Maeve Hook (she/her)
Maeve Hook is a queer director, writer and actor, and co-founder of TART Theatre Collective. Maeve has a rich performance history in circus and is a BFA Acting graduate from Queensland University of Technology. In the final year of her studies, she received the Jennifer Blocksidge Memorial Award, allowing her to train with Shakespeare and Company (Massachusetts USA) post-graduation. She has several independent performance credits, some of which include the title role in ‘Anna Bella Eema’ (Dir. Anja Homburg), Mercutio in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (Dir. Shaz Mullens, Fresh Theatre) and the lead in Queer historical short film ‘Ballad’ (Dir. Roe Bonnici). Maeve was a chosen playwright for ATYP’s Emerging Playwrights National Studio (2021) and is currently a part of She Writes at Theatre Works (2022-2023). Her directing work has most recently been seen by national and international audiences with the 2022 tour of ‘POLES: The Science of Magnetic Attraction’.
Tyler Fitzpatrick (she/her)
Tyler (she/her) is a stage and production manager, producer, lighting designer and theatre maker currently based on unceded Dharawal Land. She graduated with distinction from the University of Wollongong, earning the Merrigong Theatre Company Production Prize. Tyler has been the Production and Operations Manager at Shopfront Arts Co-Op since 2020 and services arts organisations as a Production Associate with The Paperjam Partners. With Paperjam, she has production managed Jailbaby and Pony (Griffin Theatre Company, 2023), A Practical Guide to Self-Defense (National Theatre of Parramatta/Merrigong Theatre Company, 2022), Nothing (NTofP, 2022), and Dust (Milk Crate Theatre Company, 2022).
Brea McCarthy (she/they)
Bria McCarthy (she/her) is a Wiradjuri/Irish writer and theatre-maker working on Dharug and Gundungurra land. In 2019 she wrote and directed her debut play ‘A Game For Flies’, which played at PYT Fairfield. In 2022 her debut manuscript ‘Finding Liminas: The Sudden Tree’ was shortlisted for the Text Prize 2022.
Eleni Cassimatis (she/her)
Eleni Cassimatis (she/her) is a Sydney-based actor, and a graduate of the Actors Centre Australia. Eleni’s theatre credits include productions of Macbeth, Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors and In A Nutshell for Bell Shakespeare. She was also a member of Bell Shakespeare’s national touring company The Players in 2020 and 2021.
Eleni’s voice work includes the indie short Time Stamp. Eleni is a proud MEAA member.
Em Tambree (they/them)
Em Tambree is an emerging director & producer based in Naarm. Em undertook intensive Musical Theatre training at Centrestage, SHOWFIT (2016) and received their Diploma of Music for Musical Theatre at The Australian Institute of Music (2019). Post graduation & disability diagnosis, Em Tambree's exploration into accessibility within the industry led them to develop experience in almost every aspect of stagecraft.
They founded TART Theatre Collective with Maeve Hook in
April 2022; an independent theatre company focused on the untold, misheard, and/or ignored stories from underrepresented voices and communities (Company in Residence 2023, The Motley Bauhaus).