Outer Urban Projects is a bold performing arts company that creates new forms of contemporary performance imagined from the life experiences of young emerging artists from the outer northern suburbs. We give voice to the unexpressed aspirations and creative potential of ghettoised, culturally diverse emerging artists whose origins span five continents.

About Us

All Outer Urban Projects program areas are interlinked. They include a Community Access Tutorial Program, Social Enterprise, Linkages to 

further arts training and employment with other arts companies, a developing Ensemble, Major Works for main stage presentation, an Associate Artist and Traineeship Program.

Artists

MILAD NOROUZI -

Milad is a rapper, singer-songwriter and performer. Milad’s creative life began in the underground rap studios of Tehran. He joined Outer Urban Projects in 2015 after attending it's remount of Poetic License at Darebin Arts Centre. He has transformed and re-birthed as a writer, and performer/actor and has written and performed in the company's major works Poetic License at fortyfivedownstairs (2017), Grand DiVisions: A Moved Urban Cantata at the Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne (2015), Liberian Boy (2018), The Audition (2019).

Bree Synot -

Bree is a writer and performer. Beginning in Outer Urban Projects' community access program Bree as a young teenager in 2012 gained confidence and self worth in the community and as an artist embracing her uniqueness. Bree is now an Outer Urban Projects' Associate Artist undergoing a mentorship with Arts Access Victoria and the Company. Next year, Bree will be commissioned to write a new work “Broken”. It will be part memoir, part stand up, part film and drama.

Ajak Kwai -

Ajak is an icon of Australian – Sudanese music. Ajak’s music is inspiring and soulful, infused with funky afro-beats representing the depth and richness of her South Sudanese roots. Her performances are filled with vibrant sounds and her distinctive voice has mesmerised audiences nationally and internationally. Singing in Arabic, Sudanese or English, Ajak conjures a vivid picture of her Dinka heritage. Music is the vehicle for her stories of extraordinary life experiences as a refugee, exiled from her home and her family. Her moving tales of exile, hope, freedom, love, and cows — beloved animals of the Dinka — in turn reflect her optimism and belief in the best of human nature.

Brett Kelly -

Brett has been the Principal Trombone of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra since 1981. Brett played in Newcastle Brass Band and was Principal Trombonist in the Australian Youth Orchestra before joining the orchestra of Opera Australia and later taking up his position at the MSO.

Committed to new Australian music, Brett has been a core member of three influential Australian contemporary music ensembles – Flederman, The Seymour Group and Elision and has played or conducted the premieres of over 300 new works.

From 1989 to 2004 Brett was Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of The Academy of Melbourne, a chamber orchestra comprising his colleagues in the MSO. He has also conducted the Melbourne, Tasmanian, Adelaide, Queensland and West Australian Symphony Orchestras, along with Orchestra Victoria, Sydney Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia and Southern Sinfonia. Since 2003 he has been Resident Conductor of Chamber Made Opera. Brett has conducted the orchestral scores of more than 20 major films, seven of which have been by David Hirschfelder.
Danche Sulejman -

Daniel Sulejman also known as Danche has always been surrounded by music from a young age.

Danche started practicing keyboard at the age of 8. Danche's hard training and motivation really started when he was 15 years of age when he travelled to Bitola, in North Macedonia, the epicentre for Balkan music in Europe.
Ever since then, he has been traveling back and forth to Macedonia to keep in touch with the music scene there and welcomed with open arms by his family and childhood friends.

“Bitola is where I’ve grown throughout my life. It is where my heart truly finds peace. Bitola is a surrounded by great musicians. Growing up in Macedonia has made me a more open minded musician, allowing me to play all styles of Balkan music." In the last few years Danche joined the well known band Orkestar Evropa. He is currently a recording artist on OUP’s digital platform Urban Studio video – with plans to release video and audio content in 2022.
Josef Hanna -

Josef began playing the violin at the age of 4. He has been playing the violin for 18 years and has recently started learning guitar. Josef was raised and educated in Roxburgh Park. His past teachers include Helge Thelen, Elizabeth Sellars and Roy Theaker. Josef is currently studying under Sophie Rowell.

Josef has been a member of the Melbourne Youth Orchestra (MYO) since 2012. In 2015, he was appointed the position of Concertmaster and has retained the position into 2016.

He has performed at various venues with MYO including Deakin Edge - Federation Square, Iwaki Auditorium, Hawthorn Arts Centre, Windsor Hotel and Melbourne Recital Centre. Josef is currently 1st violinist of the MYO String Quartet. Josef performed in Outer Urban Projects Grand DiVisions and gigs regularly with Outer Urban Projects and is part of the Outer Urban String Quartet.
Lerato Masiyane -

Lerato aka Lee is a Melbourne-based dance instructor and performer and is a Teaching Artist with Outer Urban Projects. Lerato born in Zimbabwe, moved to Victoria, Australia to study in 2014. Since completing her studies in Youth Work, Lerato has continued to build her youth work skills and combine them with her passion for dance to inspire and empower young people.

After her arrival in Victoria, Lerato was selected to join professional dancehall crew ‘BurnCity Queenz’. Both with this group, and as a solo performer, she has performed with artists like Sampa the Great, Baker Boy, and Jojo Abot.

She was also awarded Australian Dancehall Queen of 2016 - placing her as one of the best female dancehall artists in the country. This has led her to perform both across the country and at international events. Lerato’s dance practice has evolved as she gained experience, starting from Hip Hop to her unique blend of Afro Dance and Dancehall, with a strong focus on bringing her Zimbabwean culture to her style. She has also worked with various community organisations, such as L2R Dance Organisation and has been appointed Jungle City Studio’s Youth Program Coordinator. Lerato has continued to use dance as a tool to express and is often inspired by those she connects with through Dance.
Mary Sitarenos -

Theatre Director and Maker, co-artistic Director Liminal Theatre and Performance. Mary is an actor and director who has worked for over 20 years in alternative and mainstream theatre film and television.

Some of her theatre credits include Tes Lyssiotis' The Forty Lounge Cafe and Tom Lindstrom's Heroic Measures (Playbox); Too Young For Ghosts (Janis Balodis) and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Melbourne Theatre Company); Jean-Pierre Mignon's Chekhov Trilogy (Anthill); and Blood Moon (Tes Lyssiotis), Song of Songs (Robert Draffin), Pericles and The Idiot (Theatreworks).

She performed in and co-wrote with composer Richard Vella the contemporary opera Last Supper. It toured Japan in 1995 and had seasons in Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania. For the Melbourne Festival she appeared in Paul Carter, David Chesworth and Ariette Taylor’s Sabat Jesus (Playbox). Mary’s previous work with Jenny Kemp includes The White Hotel and Good Night Sweet Dreams with her husband, the photographer and writer Peter Lyssiotis.
Miguel Rios & Meredith O’Shea -

Miguel and Meredith are partners in work and life. Multi-award winner; photographer and film maker Meredith O'Shea and musician/film maker Miguel Rios are visual story tellers. Together they create film clips, documentaries and editorial videos.

Meredith's work as a photojournalist has brought heartbreaking and inspiring stories of human struggle and triumph to the front pages of The Sunday Age for over 15 years, featuring regularly with other media outlets including Guardian Australia.

Her work has been exhibited internationally to great acclaim. Miguel brings rich experience to the production team. Raised in Far North Queensland he has filmed and edited projects for over 25 years. Miguel is a multi skilled musician, song writer and recording artist. Miguel's early work life as an acupuncturist informs his art making with a sensitivity and a deep understanding of the human condition.
Fakaoho Tupou -

Blending Maori and Pacific Islander influences with her love for Gospel and Hip Hop, Fakaoho aka Foxy Tupou is an asset to any concert or event.

Fakaho is a musically gifted singer with a strong following in the Pacific Islander and Gospel community. She won the 2014 Hume Art Awards and always astonishes audiences with her vocal talent and charisma. In 2015 she opened for Outer Urban Projects, Poetic License at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre and performed in Grand DiVisons: A Moved Urban Cantata at the Arts Centre, as part of the 2015 Melbourne Festival.

Fakaho has graced many a stage including the Melbourne Recital Centre, the Spiegaltent, Globe to Globe festival, Nocturnal Arts After Dark and Melbourne International Arts Festival. “Their harmonies are so tight and sweet their blend is indeed a heavenly mix. Individually they are distinct and original and each hold their own as soloists. Ta is also a unique guitarist with an effortless rhythmic style.” - Irine Vela, Creative Producer & Musician Fakaho has performed her original material in numerous performances with Outer Urban Projects including Urban Chamber - Beyond, presented in the 2013 Melbourne Festival at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Pippa Samaya -

Pippa is a photographer/filmmaker specialising in dance/movement and humanitarian documentary. Awards include two-time winner of the International 60 Second Dance Film Competition (Denmark/Finland), Australian Dance Award for Excellence in Dance on Film, SALON exhibit at CCP, Best Film at FAD Film Festival (US), Best Music Video at the NIMA awards, finalist in the National Photography Prize, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and IRIS portraiture prize.

Ruci Kaisila -

Ruci is a musically gifted performer in gospel and soul. From a young age, Ruci, along with her twin sister Joanne, developed a passion for music through singing and performances at their local church. Ruci on piano and vocals and Joanne on guitar and vocals, the dynamic duo captivate audiences with their soulful ballads.

In 2012, Ruci’s compelling vocals won the Tükçe Olimpiyatlari National Australian Competition. A competition where non-Turkish artists perform poetry, drama or music in Turkish language.

Ruci won the State & National finals and was sponsored to travel to Turkey for the International finals where she competed with singers from North & South America, Japan, Brazil, Russia, Poland and England. Ruci has featured in number of Outer Urban Projects’ works including Grand Divisions: A Moved Urban Cantata presented at Arts Centre Melbourne as part of Melbourne Festival 2015, Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre opening Poetic License, Victorian Premiers Gala Dinner presented at Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre to over 1400 guests, 125BPM Concert – Melbourne Recital Centre celebrating 125 years of the Newsboys Foundation and Outer Urban Projects community showcase performance - Hume Studios, Broadmeadows – Kangan Tafe. Ruci was recently cast in Anthem a new Australian work of scale supported through the Major Festivals initiative managed by the Australia Council. Anthem brought together four playwrights, Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas and Composer Irine Vela. Anthem toured Melbourne, Sydney and Perth Festivals 2019 - 2020. “There are also wonderful contributions throughout from Ruci Kaisila, demanding that we “pay up”... she sings spectacularly and the richness of her tone fills the theatre, commanding the space. She should have the final word in the production.” TIMEOUT | BEN NEUTZE
Stella Horta -

Stella Horta works as an independent filmmaker and develops video installations and films. The “More Than Human” and feminist lens are important in her process. In research and form, there is a presence of speculative storytelling, parafiction, intimate science studies, and performativity. Recently, Stella has collaborated with performers and choreographers exploring the format of video performance and dance film. Stella has been studying at the Berlin University of the Art since 2018. Previously Stella studied filmmaking at the European Film College in Denmark and Audiovisual Communication at the art high school Antonio Arroio in Lisbon. Stella is collaborating with Outer Urban Projects and Renae Shadler on the work Vigil.

Tangata Paea Tupou -

Tangata (aka Ta) began singing from a young age. Born to a musically gifted family, Ta’s passion for music started in the family living room and at her local church. Ta's Cook Island heritage has a huge influence on her style of music. Ta and sister Fakaoho have been performing together for many years. Both artists learned how to play music instruments and singing from their dad.

At 22 years of age, Ta has been performing with Outer Urban Projects for over 8 years. She is an independent vocalist, duo with sister Fakaoho and also performs with cousins, Ruci, Joanne and Emmanuel Kaisila.

VAHIDEH EISAEI -

Vahideh grew up in an artistic family with a love for arts, music and poetry. She completed high school at Tehran Music College, studied her Bachelor of Music in Tehran University of Fine Arts and pursued postgraduate studies in Master of Music at the University of Western Australia. She has over 12 years of professional musical experience as a music performer.

Playing the Kanun (a string instrument), Vahideh has performed in different ensembles in Europe, the Middle East and Australia including, Mona Foma Festival, Multicultural Music Festival Canberra, Sarv Ensemble Australian Tour and Chakam Australian Tour. 

After finishing her master's degree, she enjoyed being part of a research project studying children music among new and emerging communities in Perth, Western Australia. Her love of children’s music led her to work with toddlers, preschool and school-age children. Currently, Vahideh is actively working in Prevention of Violence Against Women and their children space with Multicultural Centre for Women's Health. 
Joanne Kaisila -

Joanne is a proud Fijian-Australian. She is vocalist and multi-instrumentalist performer – playing guitar, drums and bass. From a young age Joanne developed a passion for gospel and soul music and has performed in many seminal shows for Outer Urban Projects including Grand Divisons - A Moved Urban Cantata at Arts Centre Melbourne and Hume Studios at Kangan Tafe.

Joanne is also a videographer, making music clips for various community groups including the Christian Mission Fellowship International and is involved in many community initiatives including the Empowering Women Forum for the Victorian Multicultural Commission (2020) where she was invited to speak and perform. Joanne is looking forward to creating an album with Outer Urban Projects via the Urban Studio digital platform.
SAHRA DAVOUDI -

Sahra graduated in art and architecture at the University of Tehran with a Bachelor of Theatre Art in 2009. Sahra was involved in many student productions as a writer, actor, costume and set designer. Her dissertation thesis was an adaptation of the short story by Raymond Carver - ‘Neighbours’. Her first professional work as an actor in Australia was with Outer Urban Projects dance theatre work, VESSEL at the Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe (2017) and as a writer and actor in The Audition, La Mama Theatre (2019).

NATASHA LAKKIS -

Natasha is fast becoming a well-known name in Melbourne’s orchestra scene. The eldest of eight children of a musical family from Roxburgh Park, she began violin at three years of age. In 2014 Natasha was the principal 2nd violinist for the Melbourne Youth Orchestra and collaborated with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra on their tour to New Zealand. She was violin concertmaster in 2012 & 2013 for Vision Australia's Carols by Candlelight conducted by John Foreman.

For Outer Urban Projects Natasha has performed in Urban Chamber - Beyond at The Salon, Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne Festival (2013). Grand DiVisions - A Moved Urban Cantata at Fairfax Studios, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival (2015) and is lead performer in the Outer Urban Projects String Quartet.
RENAE SHADLER -

Renae is an actor, choreographer and dancer based in Melbourne and Berlin. Her work includes dance, experimental performance and embedded community projects. Since studying at the Victorian College of the Arts in Acting (BA Drama Performance, 2010), Adelaide Centre for the Arts in Dance and École Philippe Gaulier in Clown, Renae has continued to explore detailed physicality, spoken word and the larger dramatic gesture with warmth and sensitivity. Her work examines humans role in the greater global ecology.

Renae works as an actor, dancer and acting coach within the visual arts, contemporary dance and theatre. Renae has performed for Triage Live Art Collective (AU/DE), One Step at a Time Like This (AU), Blackhole Theatre (AU), Maybe_Together (AU), Dee & Associates (AU), Dewy Dell (IT) and Alexandra Pirici (RO), among others. As an installation artist she has worked at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Australian Centre of Contemporary Art and Neue Berliner Kunstverein. Renae will perform in Outer Urban Projects' future work, Vigil – a multidisciplinary durational and site-specific work that examines the intersection of public safety with race, gender and terrorism in the streets of a modern city.
TARA JADE SAMAYA -

In 2019 Tara won the Green Room Award for Best Dance Performer for Common Ground, Chunky Move. Dancing with Chunky Move since 2012 performing in Rule of Thirds, Depth of Field, Complexity of Belonging, 247 Days, Anti— Gravity & Common Ground. In 2016, Tara was appointed Chunky Move’s Artistic Associate, assisting the creation of LUCID, winner of Green Room award for ‘Concept and Realisation’. Tara also conducted public programs and curated film event ‘Frames for Change’.

Tara recently premiered ‘The Spinners’, a Lina Limosani/ Al Seed production at the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘Project f’, a Prue Lang production for the Keir Choreographic Award, ‘The Perception Experiments’ for GUTS Dance in Alice Springs, and ‘The Kiss Inside’ with Douglas Wright at New Zealand's Festival of the Arts. Tara and Pippa Samaya’s collective - 'The Samaya Wives', won first prize for their work, 'The Knowledge Between Us', at the International 60secondsdance Film Competition in Finland and Denmark, and, 'Outstanding Achievement in Dance on Film or New Media' award, at the Australian Dance Awards (2017). In 2019 their work, ‘Single Man's Hut’ premiered at the Melbourne Women in Film Festival. Tara performed in Australian Dance Theatre from 2007-2012 under Garry Stewart in Proximity, Be Your Self, Worldhood, G and Devolution. For Be Your Self, and Proximity, Tara was nominated for a Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer in 2010 and 2012, respectively. In 2018, Tara was nominated for a Green Room Award, for Best Female Performer in a dance production for Australian Dance Theatre, Be Your Self (2017). At Outer Urban Projects, Tara has tutored and created choreography with an ensemble of young dancers for the 2018 Signal Program. Tara is choreographer for Outer Urban Projects' future work, Vigil – a multidisciplinary durational and site-specific work that examines the intersection of public safety with race, gender and terrorism in the streets of a modern city.
THOMAS E. S. KELLY -

Thomas is a proud Bundjalung-Yugambeh, Wiradjuri and Ni-Vanuatu man. He studied at NAISDA Dance College and graduated in 2012. Thomas is an artist that works with multiple art forms including, choreography, dance, theatre, music composition, puppetry and teaching. In 2017 Thomas founded and became Artistic Director of Karul Projects and is currently a company member of the Tasdance Makers Company. Thomas' performance credits include, Long Grass - Vicki Van Hout, Am I - Shaun Parker & Company, and choreographic credits include, [MIS]CONCEIVE, CO_EX_EN Karul Projects, and VESSEL by Outer Urban Projects (2017).

Thomas creates work that offers audiences an opportunity to learn about Aboriginal Australia and where that fits into to the modern world. Acknowledging the past, to understand the present, to better the future, knowledge is a source of power and it must be shared.
DEON NUKU -

Deon has worked as a dancer and actor in film, television and theatre. His theatre credits include West Side Story, Fame, Footloose and Saturday Night Fever. He has worked with international artists such as Macy Gray and Kylie Minogue. Deon’s television credits include the ARIA music awards, X-Factor (UKTV), Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Australian Film Industry Awards, The Good Friday Appeal, The Logie Awards, Fast Forward and Neighbours. He was a featured dancer in the films Moulin Rouge and Scooby Doo. Deon is a member of the Wickid Force breakdance team - Australia’s leading breakdance champions. Deon is Dance Director of the Victorian State School Spectacular. He has been a dance tutor with Outer Urban Projects since 2012.

PHILIP PANDONGAN -

MC, Rapper & Host, "Yung Phily" - Philip Pandongan holds true to the philosophy that, "every gig's a good gig". His stagecraft and ability to think on his feet is legendary. Yung Phily continues to inspire young, emerging and established artists across hip-hop genre. Yung Phily facilitates workshops in MCing and mixed art forms, with various community arts practitioners. He has graced many a Melbourne stage including the Melbourne Recital Centre, Fairfax Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne and Federation Square for various companies and festivals. Yung Phily has worked with Outer Urban Projects as a performer and tutor since 2012.

NICOLA SANA MCCARTHY -

Nicola was born in New Zealand to a Japanese mother and Irish father. She grew up near Tokyo and began dancing when she was 15. Five years later she moved to the North East of England, where she studied with leading street dance pioneers. After moving to Australia she formed the SANA Crew, the first all-female crew in Newcastle. She now teaches in many studios throughout Melbourne and specialises in the many dance styles including Hip-hop, African, Locking, Waacking and House. Nicola has been a dance tutor with Outer Urban Projects since 2018.

STEPHEN VALERI -

Stephen is a Melbourne based singer, actor, cabaret performer and producer. His recent theatre credits include Roger in ‘Grease - The Arena Experience’ (Sydney Season) (2018), Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle in the Sydney premiere of ‘Mack & Mabel’ (Hayes Theatre Co./ Working Management) and Man 3 in ‘First Date - The Musical’ (Pursued By Bear/ Chapel Off Chapel). Stephen has been training in voice for over 20 years. He has worked with some of Australia’s leading teachers, vocal coaches and musical directors, having trained in contemporary, musical theatre and classical singing.

Stephen holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Monash University and is a graduate of full-time musical theatre course, SHOWFIT. Stephen has been a vocal teacher for Outer Urban Projects since 2016.

 

PEOPLE

 

OUR TEAM

David Ralph - General Manager / Lani Hannah - Finance and Business Manager (CPA) / Melanie Augustine - Community Programs Manager / Peta Kalis - Administration and Finance Officer / Simone Etheve - Marketing Support Officer              / Ruci Kaisila - Community Arts Support Worker

OUR BOARD

Daniel Santangeli - Chairperson / Andy Lynch / Leah Perkins / Rohini Shama / Neela McGilton – Treasurer                        / Tahlia Azaria   

Irine Vela - Artistic Director

Irine Vela is a composer, librettist, creative producer and director. Irine’s work emphasises the validity, necessity and excitement that diverse voices and forms bring to the Australian arts. She has collaborated with many of Australia’s finest performers, writers, directors and theatre companies. Her work as producer and Artistic Director for Outer Urban Projects has resulted in many unique productions including 'Poetic License', Melbourne Writers Festival (2014), Darebin Arts (2015) fortyfivedownstairs (2017); 'Grand DiVisions – A Moved Urban Cantata', Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival (2015), Vessel Arts Centre Melbourne (2017) Melbourne Fringe, Anthem and The Audition (2019).

Her film and television credits include: 'Head On' (feature film), 'Remembering Country' (documentary drama SBS), and the mini-series 'The Slap' (ABC). She received the 2012 APRA Screen Music Award for Best Sound Track Album. Other notable collaborations and productions include, Anthem for the 2019-2020 Melbourne, Sydney and Perth Festivals, 'Who's Afraid of the Working Class', 'Do Not Go Gentle' and the music drama '1975-A Populist Opera' for which she also wrote the libretto. Her choral opera 'Little City' was acclaimed by both music and theatre critics and garnered her an Award from the Australian Music Centre for Best Composition by an Australian Composer. She is also the recipient of the Tropfest film award for Best Original Score. She was awarded a 2007 State Library fellowship to research and create the multi-media music drama 'Australia in Danger - A Slide Night'. She performs with the Sevdah Sephardic ensemble Saray Iluminado and is founding member of 'the haBiBis'. Their CD Intoxication received an ARIA award for Best World Music Album.
Kate Gillick - Executive Producer

Kate brings 30 years of professional practice across theatre, film and TV to Outer Urban Projects. She has trained and worked as an actor, writer, dramaturg, director and producer. She freelanced for many years working in Fringe, with Melbourne Workers Theatre and in TV drama and is an AFTRS screenwriting graduate. Her documentary credits include SBS/CAAMA 'Minmaku Way' (writer), ‘A Few Old Blokes' (writer/director) MIFF and the SBS, ATOM award winner and Dendy nominated 'Remembering Country' (co-writer/director).

Kate was Artistic Co-Director and Creative Producer with the Anti Racism Action Band (A.R.A.B) performing arts program from 2004-12. During this time A.R.A.B produced over 40 projects, performed at 400 gigs and events and played to a total audience of over 100,000. Kate’s wide ranging collaborative and organisational skills and commitment to art that reflects the stories of working class and disenfranchised people has seen her evolution as Executive Producer of Outer Urban Projects.

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