“Outer Urban Projects facilitates the performance and storytelling of youth from Melbourne's northern suburbs, most of whom come from migrant backgrounds. It's vital an empowering work that reflects our complexity as a people and our cultural heritage.”




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 its remount of POETIC LICENSE at Darebin Arts Centre. As a writer/performer/actor he has written and performed in the company's major works POETIC LICENSE at fortyfivedownstairs (2017), GRAND DIVISONS, A Moved Urban Cantata at the Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne (2015), LIBERIAN BOY (2018), THE AUDITION (2019) at La Mama Theatre and has recently recorded his moody underground EP THE LITTLE LIONHEART in the company’s URBAN STUDIO.

Bree Synot

Bree Synot is a writer and performer. She writes in a raw, fearlessly comic style about her many life experiences including living with a disability, her Romanian/Australian heritage and relationships, romantic and familial. She is developing her autobiographical work BROKEN part-memoir, part stand up, part film and drama with Outer Urban Projects.

Brett Kelly

Brett Kelly has regularly conducted the Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Tasmanian, Queensland and West Australian symphony orchestras, The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and Dunedin’s Southern Sinfonia.
He has conducted for Victorian Opera and been resident conductor of Chamber Made Opera. He has been featured on recordings for NAXOS, Tall Poppies, and ABC Classics with his recording of the Rodrigo Guitar Concertos featuring Slava and Leonard Grigoryan nominated for an Aria Award.

His conducting of The Hive by Nicolas Vines for Chamber Made Opera was nominated for a Green Room Award as Best Conductor of Opera.

Brett has conducted the scores of many feature films including Beneath Hill 60, Baz Luhrmann’s epic, Australia and Happy Feet II and 7 film scores by David Hirschfelder. In 1989 he founded the Academy of Melbourne which, over some fifteen years, became regarded as one of Australia’s most outstanding chamber ensembles. 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. Brett is an experienced radio broadcaster, was Principal Trombonist with the Melbourne Symphony until 2019 and holds the position of Music Director of the Melbourne Youth Orchestras. For Outer Urban Projects Brett has conducted 125 BPM including the Hip Hop Harp Concerto at the Melbourne Recital Centre. He will conduct Ollie Mustonen’s Triple Violin Concerto as part of Outer Urban Projects Melbourne Youth Orchestra collaboration.
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. However, Danche's hard training and motivation really started when he was 15 years of age and at the time travelled to Macedonia to join a band. Ever since then, he has been traveling back and forth to Macedonia to keep in touch and be welcomed with open arms by his family and childhood friends. Danche's most recent visit to Macedonia was in 2018. During this period, he had the opportunity to join up with a well-known band called Orkestar Evropa. Danche has been a key artist on Outer Urban Projects’ URBAN STUDIO series of works and will take part in KIN – The Sulejmans in 2026.

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, URBAN CHAMBER - BEYOND, LIBERIAN BOY and gigs regularly with Outer Urban Projects and is part of the Outer Urban String Quartet.
Mary Sitarenos

Mary is a Theatre Director and Maker and the Co-Artistic Director of 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. Mary contributed to Outer Urban Projects’ creative development of VIGIL in 2021 and performed in THE AUDTION in 2019.
Fakaoho Tupou

Blending Māori and Pacific Islander influences with her love for Gospel and Hip Hop, Fakaoho Tupou aka Foxy is an asset to any concert or performance. She is a musically gifted singer with a strong following in the Pasifika and gospel community and a recipient of a Hume Art Award. Fakaoho has featured in many Outer Urban Projects works. URBAN CHAMBER BEYOND at the Melbourne Recital Centre, the opening for POETIC LICENSE at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre, LIBERIAN BOY, REVELATIONS in URBAN STUDIO, HUME STUDIOS and TAKEOVER residencies and GRAND DIVISONS – A MOVED URBAN CANTATA at Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival.

Fakaoho also performs on Outer Urban Projects’ Fee for Service program, always delighting audiences with her vocal talent, warmth and charisma. Foxy is a key artist on the fourth project of the KIN series of works - The Tupou’s.
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 performing at their local church. With Ruci on piano and vocals and Joanne on guitar and vocals, the dynamic duo captivated audiences with their soulful ballads. Ruci has featured in many Outer Urban Projects works including GRAND DIVISIONS - A MOVED URBAN CANTATA presented at Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre opening POETIC LICENSE, The Big Anxiety's TAKEOVER and HUME STUDIOS Residency projects, REVELATIONS recording project in URBAN STUDIO and 125BPM Concert, Melbourne Recital Centre.

Ruci worked alongside some of Australia’s finest writers and theatre artists in Anthem, a new Australian work of scale supported through the Major Festivals Initiative, that toured nationally. Ruci works as a performer on Outer Urban Projects’ Fee for Service gigs and workshops and is a key artist and driver of KIN -The Kaisila’s – Dudi & Jojo a transnational Australian-Fijian performance and film work.
Ta Tupou

Tangata Tupou aka Ta, began singing at 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 musical instruments and sing from their dad. She is an independent vocalist, performing with sister Fakaoho and cousins, Ruci, Joanne, and Emmanuel Kaisila. Ta is a recipient of a Hume Art Award.

She has featured in many Outer Urban Projects works including GRAND DIVISIONS - A MOVED URBAN CANTATA at Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival, opening of POETIC LICENSE Darebin Arts Centre, TAKEOVER and HUME STUDIOS residencies, REVELATIONS recording project in URBAN STUDIO. Ta performs on Outer Urban Projects’ Fee for Service program, astonishing audiences with her sublime voice. Ta is a key artist on the fourth project of the KIN series of works - The Tupou’s.

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.

Vahideh is founder of Baazavaz, a creative hub that aims to bring artists together and create multidisciplinary forms of art. 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.  Vahideh has performed as a musician in THE AUDITION, creative development artist for VIGIL and upcoming work LULLABY as part of URBAN STUDIO.
Joanne Kaisila

Joanne is a proud Fijian-Australian. She is a vocalist and multiinstrumentalist 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 DIVISIONS – A MOVED URBAN CANCATA at Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival, POETIC LICENSE opening at Darebin Arts Centre and HUME STUDIOS at Kangan Tafe. She recorded on REVELATIONS in URBAN STUDIO, performed in the TAKEOVER residency and is a key artist on the Australian/Fijian collaboration of the transnational performance and film project, KIN - The Kaisila’s – Dudi & Jojo.

She is also a videographer, making music clips for her community and is a regular performer on Outer Urban Projects’ Fee for Service program.
Grace Kwabo

With French, Beninese, and Togolese (West Africa) heritage, Gracieuse Amah (Grace) is a Creative Director, Dancer/Choreographer and Teacher with 15 years’ experience. Passionate dancer of African dances since the early age of 8, she is a dynamic and joyful positive thinker specialised in the art of entertainment. Her infectious energy will take you on an amazing cultural experience like no other.

Grace specialises in live and public art dance performances and has performed on many international stages.

She delivers weekly African dance classes throughout Victoria promoting happiness, cultural awareness, and well-being. Her recent projects include dance performances and the production of local festivals in collaboration with Yarra City Arts, Outer Urban Projects, Fringe Festival, The Big Anxiety’s TAKEOVER Residency, Moomba Festival, and the Queen Victoria Market. Grace’s drive for racial and social justice has led her to develop and lead cultural programs in France. Drawing from her own experience as a migrant she created Kwabo (Welcome) Events, a social enterprise promoting a sense of community and belonging through African dance, culture, and practice. African dance isn't only an art for her but her philosophy and way of living.

Tumeli Tuqota is an emerging Fijian film maker – He hails from Gasauva, Cakaudrove, Fiji with maternal links to Ha'a'ai, Tonga. He has fifteen years of experience in graphic design and motion design, 2D & 3D animation, filmmaking, and stick figure drawing. His film Soli Bula, an animated indigenous short film connected to Meli’s own heritage, looks at an alternate reality where Fiji tradition and culture was never eroded by colonialism.

Meli is collaborating as a filmmaker on Outer Urban Projects transnational Australian-Fijian performance/film project, the first project in the KIN series of works.


Emmanuel is the youngest of the talented Kaisila family. He is also musically gifted through his family roots in gospel and soul. From a young age, Emmanuel, along with his twin sisters Joanne and Ruci, developed a passion for music through singing and performances at their local church. The trio captivate audiences with their soulful ballads. Emmanuel’s work with Outer Urban Projects includes 125 BMP, Melbourne Recital Centre, HUME STUDIOS, TAKEOVER residencies, and the upcoming transnational performance and film project, KIN.


Patricia Cornelius is a founding member of Melbourne Workers Theatre. She’s a playwright, novelist, and film writer. Patricia has a fierce commitment to class and her work often examines the lives of the marginalised. Her work also includes dramaturgy and mentorship with young or new playwrights. Cornelius is the recipient of numerous awards. She is the recent recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize. And the 2019 Green Room award for Life Achievement. She has written over 35 plays including: Shit, Big Heart, Savages, Slut, Love and The Call. Patricia co-wrote the feature film adaptation Blessed, based on the play Who’s Afraid of the Working Class?

She is currently developing a feature film, Stolen, with director and co-writer, Catriona McKenzie. Patricia’s novel, My Sister Jill (Random House) was published in 2002. Patricia is currently working on a major stage commission for the Melbourne Theatre Company. Patricia was a writer on THE AUDITION and is writing on the upcoming VIGIL project. In 2023, her play Do Not Go Gentle has been presented by The Sydney Theatre Company and her play My Sister Jill by the Melbourne Theatre Company.  

Bryan Andy is a Yorta Yorta man from Cummeragunja, NSW. Bryan is a freelance writer, radio broadcaster and theatre maker. He has been published with Lonely Planet, NITV, ABC, IndigenousX, the Guardian, Witness Performance and Meanjin. In 2021, Flock: First Nations Stories Then and Now (edited by Ellen Van Neerven and published by University of Queensland Press) was released and featured a short story by Bryan titled Moama ('Place of the Dead'). Bryan is currently completing a Masters of Theatre (Writing) at the Victorian College of the Arts/University of Melbourne and is a writer on Outer Urban Projects’ Major Work VIGIL.

Christos Tsiolkas

Christos is the author of the novels Loaded, The Jesus Man, Dead Europe, The Slap, Barracuda, Damascus and the short story collections Merciless Gods. He is also a playwright, scriptwriter, and a film reviewer for The Saturday Paper. His other work includes a monograph on Patrick White as part of the Writers-on-Writers series and the collaborative dialogue, Jump Cuts: An Autobiography, written with Sasha Soldatow. His fiction including The Slap has been adapted screen. Christos was a writer and mentor on Outer Urban Projects’ work THE AUDITON (touring 2024) and is a writing mentor on the upcoming work VIGIL. He is also Outer Urban Projects’ patron. The adaptation of Christos’ novel Loaded premiered at the Beckett Theatre in the Malthouse, Melbourne (2023) and has recently released a new novel The In-Between (2023).

Kush Kuiy

Kush Kuiy loves building new things and transforming it into something impactful and for positive change. In collaboration with the Nuer Community Foundation of Australia and City of Monash, Kush successfully inaugurated Rise of South Sudan in 2018. This annual benefit concert celebrates Melbourne’s vibrant South-Sudanese and wider African populations, highlighting individual artistic excellence and collective creative capacity. She is also the creator of Blaxcellence, a networking platform for Afro Diaspora, First Peoples and black identifying creatives. Kush has worked for Outer Urban Projects as an associate producer and is joining Outer Urban Projects as a writer on the VIGIL project.


Samah Sabawi is an author, playwright, and poet. She is a recipient of multiple awards both nationally and internationally, including the 2020 Green Room Award for Best Writing for Independent Theatre for Them, the 1916 VCE awards for Best Independent Production and Best Publication for Tales of A City By The Sea, the 2018 Palestine Book Award for the poetry anthology I Remember My Name: Poetry by Samah Sabawi, Ramzy Baround and Jehan Bseiso and the Patrick O’Neil Award for the anthology Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas.

Samah’s poetry is featured in leading journals, most recently, World Literature Today, her essays and political commentary is published in many books including Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out, as well as in international media platforms such as the ABC, the BBC, AlJazeera, The Globe and Mail, AlAhram and the Sydney Morning Herald. Samah is Joining Outer Urban Projects as a writer and mentor on the upcoming Major Work VIGIL.
Kevin Nugara Beatboxer / Rapper

Kevin an Australian Sri Lankan virtuosic beatboxer and rapid-fire rapper from Meadow Heights, Hume, has worked with members of the Outer Urban Projects team from 2004. Kevin has been worked on hundreds of gigs, festivals and events throughout Melbourne, many through Outer Urban Projects’ Fee for Service Platform. He has opened for rapper Kid Ink (US), performed at number of Croc Festivals, performed in the Big Top Hop – Commonwealth Games cultural program and has toured with Indigenous Hip Hop Projects across regional and remote Australia. 

Kevin won ‘best rapper’ in the Kool Skools Awards (2005) and in 2009 he held the title of National Beat Box Champion. He is a recipient of the 2014 Hume Arts Award for Emerging Artists category and performed in Outer Urban Projects, POETIC LICENSE in Melbourne Writers Festival at Footscray Community Arts Centre (2014), Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre (2015) and fortyfivedownstairs (2017).

Tara Jade Samaya is a queer eco feminist and a multidisciplinary artist that, teaches, creates and performs dance. Her engagement with Outer Urban expands from developing dance, film work and leading workshops and classes from 2018.

She is currently performing in Dancenorths regional Australian Wayfinder tour after recently relocating back to Australia from Europe where she rehearsal directed at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen and danced with Staatsballett Berlin under directorship of Sasha Waltz and Johannes Ohman. Also working with artists Jefta Van Dinter, Emmanual Gat, Dasniya Summer, Jan Martens,

Aoi Nakamura, Esteban Lecoq & created production ‘I’m here now’ with Film maker Pippa Samaya for the Komische Oper Berlin. In 2019, Tara won Helpmann and Greenroom Award for Best Female Dancer in Australia for her work in Chunkymove's Common Ground (Anouk Van Dijk). Previously nominated for Greenroom/Helpmann Awards in 2017, 2012 & 2 010. Over the course of her career she has worked with many companies, organisations and independent creators including Chunkymove, Australian Dance Theatre, Douglas Wright, Prue Lang, Lina Limosani and was appointed Chunky Move’s Artistic Associate 2016. Her film collaborative ‘The Samaya Wives’ with partner Pippa have national and international acclaim for their short experimental movement films, screening across festivals, galleries and independent cinemas worldwide. In 2019, Tara won Helpmann and Greenroom Award for ‘Best Dancer’ in Australia for her work in Chunkymove's ‘Common Ground’, with previous nominations in 2010, 2012 & 2017. Over the last 17 ye ars Tara has danced with Australian Dance Theatre (Garry Stewart), Chunkymove (Anouk Van Dijk), Douglas Wright Company, Dance North, Prue Lang, Lina Limosani Projekts and as a Soloist at The Staatsballett Berlin (Sasha Waltz and Johannes Ohman). She was appointed Chunky Move’s Artistic Associate for the year 2016. Her work included a creative collaboration on ‘LUCID’, a physical theatre mixedmedia work that won the 2017 Greenroom Award for ‘Concept and Realisation’. In 2014 Tara co-founded ‘The Samaya Wives’, a dance film collective with her wife Pippa Samaya. The Samaya Wives have presented multiple films internationally, gathering many recognitions including two time winners of the International 60second dance film competition (Finland/Denmark), ‘Best Film’ in FAD film festival and Portland Dance Film Festival (USA), 'Most Wonderful Film Award' at the International Portrait Film Festival (Bulgaria) ‘Best Experimental Short’ at the Berlin Film Festival and ‘Best Dance on Film’ at The Australian Dance Awards in 2017 and 2020. Their award winning film ‘Oten’ was commissioned for the Newcastle Art Gallery Australia in 2019, presented through Catapult residency (Cadi McCarthy) in collaboration with designers High Tea with Mrs Wu. Their most recently awarded film ‘I’m here now’ was presented at Komische Oper for The Staatsballett Berlin in 2020 for ‘Lab works’ with dancers Jenna Fakhoury and Paul Vickers. For Outer Urban Projects, Tara has created choreography and taught for its ensemble of young dancers and community members at Signal, in Chunky Move Studios, at Transit Dance. She was a key artist on the Outer Urban Projects’ VIGIL dance films during lockdowns and a key choreographer/dancer and collaborator on the upcoming VIGIL project.

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 - ‘Neighbors’. Her first professional work as an actor and writer in Australia was with Outer Urban Projects dance theatre work, VESSEL at the Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe (2017). She then went on to work as a writer and actor in THE AUDITION, La Mama Theatre (2019).

Sahra was granted permanent residency in 2019 and has since become an Australian citizen. Sahra performed In the Mirror by Mammad Aidani for La Mama Theatre and the interdisciplinary dance work Conquest of the Garden by Nebahat Erpolat. Sahra is a writer/performer in Outer Urban Projects upcoming Major Work VIGIL.

Damian is a hip-hop dancer with a style that leans towards contemporary street dance. Residing in Reservoir, Damian joined Outer Urban Projects’ Access and Outreach Programs when he was 14 and has worked as a dance tutor with Outer Urban Projects’ Outreach programs and external partners, Trinity College and Drummond Street Services. As an Associate Artists of Outer Urban Projects Damian performed in the company’s Major Work, VESSEL (2017), is a regular workshop instructor for Dance Alliance and performed in Hume Studios (2019).

In 2017 Damian was chosen from a large pool of auditionees to become a cast member for Sir Matthew Bourne’s adaptation, Lord of The Flies, Art Centre Melbourne, State Theatre (2017). Damian independently secured a scholarship to attend Wildabeast in the United States – a convention and workshop geared to commercial dance industry. Damian recently completed the TAKEOVER Residency in partnership with RMIT and collaborators over 5 years resulting in a number of public reactivation performances in response to COVID-19 and the publication of the book ‘Art-Based Social Enterprise, Young Creatives and the Forces of Marginalisation’ by Grace McQuilten, Amy Spiers, Kim Humphery and Peter Kelly (Palgrave Macmillian 2022).

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, GRAND DIVISIONS - A MOVED URBAN CANTATA at Fairfax Studios, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival, and is lead performer in the Outer Urban Projects STRING QUARTET. Natasha is the lead artist on Outer Urban Projects’ Triple Violin Concerto collaboration with The Impossible Orchestra.

Hailing proudly from the Philippines, Demi Sorono is a consummate Hip Hop dancer and highly accomplished B-girl who is able to traverse many genres. Demi first rose to national prominence through our TV screens as a finalist on Australia's ‘So You Think You Can Dance’. She was also cast in the West End dance spectacular Blaze (2012) and choreographed the major performance for the reopening of Melbourne’s Hamer Hall. Her solo work: 'A Touch Of Grace - Shadow Warrior' a collaboration with Phunktional premiered in the 2015 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Demi is a sought after teacher and choreographer and actor: 'Wentworth Prison' & 'I, Frankenstein'.

Demi has performed in Outer Urban Projects' VESSEL at Arts Centre Melbourne.




Irine Vela- Artistic Director & Co CEO / Kate Gillick - Executive Producer & Co CEO

David Ralph - General Manager / Shelley Neergaard - Finance and Business Manager (CPA) /

Leah Healy & Peta Kalis - Administration and Finance Coordinator / Simone Etheve - Marketing Support Officer


           Ben Starick - Communications Strategist / Claire Wearne - Educational Consultant / Kath Pappas - Consulting Producer / Miguel Rios & Meredith O'Shea - Photography & Videography


Christos Tsiolkas


Andy Lynch / Leah Perkins - Secretary / Will Dawson – Deputy Chairperson / Tahlia Azaria - Chairperson /

Tirukumar Thiagarajah – Treasurer / Trudy Wise

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