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“This is a dream role of mine”: Malthouse Theatre appoints new work manager

“This is a dream role of mine”: Malthouse Theatre appoints new work manager
Kaylah Joelle Baker

Malthouse Theatre has officially appointed dramaturg, director and creative producer of Green Door Theatre Company, Bernadette Fam as its new work manager.

As an Egyptian-Australian interdisciplinary dramaturg, Ms Fam has a rich understanding of the work theatre companies need to be doing internally to create thriving, safe spaces for all artists, and she is looking forward to creating a space at Malthouse where unique storytelling can thrive. 

“Stages are diversifying for the absolute better, but we need to make sure we are also creating the space for artists to be accessing their most authentic form of storytelling,” Ms Fam said. 

“I believe it is our job in these theatre companies to do the internal work and to tailor a space and environment where artists’ unique form of storytelling can thrive.”

The role of new work manager is a key role on the theatre’s artistic team and will see Ms Fam work closely with Malthouse’s team and creative artists, while also delivering professional development programs. 

After working with many diverse and underrepresented artists in the past, the meaningful work involved in being Malthouse’s new work manager is something Ms Fam considers her “dream role”.

 

“Part of my role is delivering the professional artist development programs, such as the Besen Artists Program and the Malcolm Robertson Writers Program, and making sure there is an active upskilling of new artists and artists of all ages who have found mainstage theatre inaccessible due to systemic barriers,” she said.

 

“My role is also about finding new writers and theatre makers of all disciplines to commission to make new Australian work, and working with them closely as a dramaturg or as a facilitator of the process to help ensure the story they want to tell is being authentically represented through the narrative and all the other elements of the show.”

As someone who, upon leaving drama school, found she wasn’t really aligning with the roles she was going for or being offered as a woman of colour, Ms Fam started meeting with incredible artists doing their own work, and found fulfilment in dramaturgy and new work development.

Being involved in theatre making, devising, and working with people from all different art forms, including non-text-based artists, led Ms Fam to her passion of being involved in work that addresses and combats against systemic barriers that make theatre spaces inaccessible.

It is now through this role that Ms Fam said she hoped to see to it that Malthouse’s programming “is really representative of the Melbourne community and what the Melbourne community is striving to make, as well as see”.

“New work development is absolutely what fulfils me as an artist and helps serve other artists to really make the work they want to make and to find their unique and authentic access points to storytelling,” she said. 

“I also learnt how to produce in the very first place, so I had the skills when I got a role like this to help create, design, and deliver new programs that are always bringing in new artists, especially underrepresented artists.”

 

While still in the process of finding her feet, after making the move from Western Sydney only days before she began the role on November 21, Ms Fam has already been working hard getting to know the Melbourne community better and identify what the artistic community is yearning for.

 

In expressing his excitement for having her on board, Malthouse Theatre artistic director and co-CEO Matthew Lutton described Ms Fam as a “brilliant theatrical thinker and creator”.

“She is a fantastic dramaturg, a passionate supporter and advocate for artists emerging to established, and insightful in her thinking about where theatre is going and how we can get there,” he said. •

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