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

MELODY GBIADIAH - SINGER / SONGWRITER

Born in the Ivory Coast of Liberian heritage, Melody resides in Reservoir. In 2015 Melody joined the Outer Urban Projects Zone2 Rap and Writing workshops. It wasn’t long before his talent was recognised by the Outer Urban Projects team. In 2016 he won the Freeza Push Start Music Competition as a member of the Outer Urban Projects Hip Hop Squad. Since then he has developed a distinctive and exuberant vocal and song writing style. His voice and songs are poignant, infectious and memorable. Melody supported Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer, Patoranking at his Sydney concert in April 2016, as well as performing at Banyule City Council’s Youthfest, Fawkner Festa and Reservoir Stomp as part of the 2016 Darebin Music Feast. Melody was the lead Associate Artist for Outer Urban Projects show, Liberian Boy.

JOSEPH SAMARANI - PERCUSSIONIST / PERFORMER

Joseph Samarani is a percussionist, infectious raconteur and specialises in the Lebanese hand drum, the tabla.  His other alias is 'The Golden Fingers'. Joseph excites and fascinates audiences with his virtuosic percussion playing. In 2008 he studied Latin Ensemble and Afro-American Percussion under the direction of Alex Pertout at VCA and by 2011 he completed a Certificate IV in Music Performance at Northern College of the Arts & Technology.  Joseph performed percussion and acted in two theatre productions, Drumming Through Time (2015), and The Music Returns (2016), as part of the Ignition Theatre Stream at Melbourne Polytechnic and in Amplified with Sky Theatre.   In 2017 he started his own band, Kings of Lightning, and currently plays percussion in Arabic band, Volume Entertainment, performing regularly at functions and events.   Since joining Outer Urban Projects' Zone2 Community Access Program, Joseph is now a regular performer on the Outer Urban Projects social enterprise. Joseph featured as a soloist in the Hip Hop Harp Concerto by composer, Irine Vela, conductor, Brett Kelly and the Melbourne Youth Orchestra in the 125BPM Newsboys concert performed at the Elizabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre (2018). Joseph is currently developing a work with Outer Urban Projects called, The Drum. With a nod to German and the Oriental cabaret traditions, The Drum is a music drama about virtuosity, a blind musician, a Lebanese hand drum and their battle against cultural discrimination, and a drum kit.

MILAD NOROUZI - WRITER / SINGER / SONGWRITER & PERFORMER

Milad Norouzi is a rapper, singer-songwriter and performer. Milad’s creative life began in the underground rap studios of Tehran. It ended there with his arrest by the Basijiian (morality police) and subsequent incarceration and persecution. Forced to seek asylum, 17 year old Milad risked and endured a perilous journey over the desert and then by sea to Australia. He joined Outer Urban Projects in 2015 after attending it's remount of Poetic License at Darebin Arts Centre with a social worker. He has transformed and re-birthed as a writer, and performer/actor and is currently a Community Support Worker with Outer Urban Projects. Apart from gigging on Outer Urban Projects’ social enterprise platform, Milad has written and performed in their Major Works, Poetic License at fortyfivedownstairs (2017), Grand DiVisions: A Moved Urban Cantata at the Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne (2015), and is also writer and performer on their upcoming work - The Audition.

SAHRA DAVOODI - ACTOR

Sahra Davoodi 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). Sahra is currently a writer and performer on Outer Urban Projects’ upcoming work - The Audition.

FAKAOHO & TANGATA PAEA TUPOU - SINGERS / MUSICIANS

Foxy and Ta are a pair of musically gifted sisters of Polynesian heritage and currently reside in Broadmeadows. They come from a strong church gospel tradition. Their harmonies are so tightly blended it is often hard to tell them apart, but individually each is a unique vocalist. Ta is also a skilled guitarist with an original style. They are an asset to any performance and artistic process. For Outer Urban Projects they have performed in Urban Chamber–Beyond in the Salon at Melbourne Recital Centre as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival (MIAF) (2013), Grand DiVisions– A Moved Urban Cantata at Fairfax Studios, Arts Centre Melbourne, MIAF (2015), and Liberian Boy at Oxygen Studio Space, Emerge In The North Festival (2018).

RUCI & JOANNE KAISILA - SINGERS / MUSICIANS

Ruci and Joanne Kaisila perform in gospel and soul genres. From a young age, the sisters developed their passion for music through singing and performances at their local church, Ruci on piano and vocals, and Joanne on guitar and vocals. As a solo or duo, they captivate audiences with their soulful vocals. Ruci and Joanne have performed in various Outer Urban Projects productions including, Grand DiVisions: A Moved Urban Cantata at Fairfax Studios, Arts Centre Melbourne, MIAF (2015), Poetic License presented at Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre (2016) and the Premiers Gala Dinner (2016) presented at Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre to over 1400 guests.

Ruci is currently involved in the development of Anthem – a new work commissioned by the Major Festival’s initiative and the Arts Centre Melbourne, featuring a solid creative team including Andrew Bovell, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Christos Tsiolkas, Irine Vela and Susie Dee.

DAMIAN SEDDON - DANCER

Damian is a hip hop dancer with a style that leans towards contemporary dance. Residing in Reservoir, Damian has worked as a dance tutor with Outer Urban Projects for it's Zone2 Community Access program and for external partners, Trinity College and Drummond Street Services. As a performer Damian has danced in Outer Urban Projects' Major Work, VESSEL, and is regular workshop instructor for Dance Alliance. In 2017 Damian was chosen from a large pool of auditionees to become cast member for Sir Matthew Bourne’s adaptation, Lord Of The Flies, at State Theatre, Art Centre Melbourne (2017). Damian is also Associate Artist in Outer Urban Projects' Hume Studios project for Creative Suburbs 2019. Damian has also independently secured a scholarship to attend the Wildabeast in the United States – a convention and workshop geared to commercial dance industry.

NATASHA HANNA - MUSICIAN

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, MIAF (2013). Grand DiVisions - A Moved Urban Cantata at Fairfax Studios, Arts Centre Melbourne, MIAF (2015) and performs on Outer Urban Projects' social enterprise and is lead performer in the Outer Urban Projects String Quartet.

RENAE SHADLER - ACTOR / CHOREOGRAPHER & DANCER

Renee 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 - CHOREOGRAPHER / DANCER

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 - CHOREOGRAPHER / DANCER

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.

TARIRO MAVONDO - WRITER / ACTOR

Tariro is a Melbourne-based artist of Zimbabwean descent. She is dedicated and committed to working with the creative industry, corporate sector and community and health services to provide professional pathways and mentoring programs for young culturally and linguistically diverse and visibly different artists. Tariro is a teaching artist and delivers movement-based creative arts community orientated programs that work with movement and dance, drawing, sound and voice, music, creative writing and poetry. Tariro trained as an actor at VCA where she was the 2011 recipient of the Irene Mitchell Award for Outstanding Actor in Third Year. She is a State and National Australian Poetry Slam Finalist and performance poetry in Melbourne. She has worked for Outer Urban Projects as a writing and performance facilitator for the Signal program and has been involved in the development of their upcoming work - The Audition.

DIDEM CAIA - WRITER

Didem is a writer, speaker and facilitator, who grew up in the western suburbs of Melbourne. She is a writer of plays, essays and fiction. Her play, 'Vile' was shortlisted for a number of Australian theatre awards and in 2016 was shortlisted for the Theatre 503 New Play Award in London. Didem's work draws on her mixed cultural heritage and she fuses personal stories of the working class and home, to bring light to the many facets of being Australian. Didem has worked as a facilitator and creator with the City of Greater Dandenong's Emerging Writers' Festival, Victorian Drama League, Tuggeranong Arts Centre, Outer Urban Projects and Writers Victoria. Didem received a Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Art from Victoria University when she was 16 through recognition for prior learning and is also a graduate of RMIT, NIDA and the VCA.

DEON NUKU - DANCER

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

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 - DANCER

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 - SINGER / ACTOR

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

Akimera Burckhardt-Bedeau  - Community Development Worker / David Ralph - General Manager / Lani Hannah - Finance Coordinator / Melanie Augustine - Community Programs Coordinator / Milad Norouzi  - Community Development Worker / Peta Kalis - Administration and Finance Officer / Victoria Canning - Marketing Assistant

 

OUR BOARD

Daniel Santangeli - Deputy Chair / Emanuela Savini / Lee Casey / Melanie Dye / Neela McGilton – Treasurer / Sarah Austin / Sharon Nathani - Chairperson / Susan Ball 

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 conceptualised, originated and enabled many fertile collaborations with outstanding outcomes: 'suBurBan exchange', Melbourne Recital Centre (2011); 'Urban Chamber – Beyond', Melbourne Festival (2013); 'Poetic License', Melbourne Writers Festival (2014), remount Darebin Arts (2015) and at fortyfivedownstairs (2017); and 'Grand DiVisions', Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival (2015). 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 the award winning 'Who's Afraid of the Working Class', 'Do Not Go Gentle' and her 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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