Outer Urban Projects Major Works employ, develop and elevate the stories of emerging artists and their communities to deliver moving, provocative and universal narratives that explore the social, cultural and economic turbulence and creativity in the outer north of Melbourne, Australia and globally.





They say that 2015 and 2016 were the deadliest years for migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe. In 2014 the Malacca Straits became the favoured route for boat people to reach Australia. Thousands have died at sea. A headless child’s body cannot be identified and her tombstone bears no name on the Island of Lesvos. Ordinary people languish in refugee camps and in Australia’s offshore detention centres. Entry denied… but the stage is also a country with its own rules and regulations or lack of them.

Grand DiVisions is storytelling and music of overwhelming vitality.  It is a work about falling in and out of love with Australia, two uncompromising refugees that made it to the other side and a cohort of outsiders that challenge the status quo in a world that negates their humanity and freedom.


Balletic and symphonic in concept and communal in execution, Grand DiVisions features a dynamic hip hop harp concerto, a string orchestra, a solo harpist, virtuosic beat boxing, Indian tabla, darabuka, gospel hip‐hop, classical vocalists, contemporary dancers, rappers, spoken word artists and story tellers who strive to make sense of the grand divisions that continue to haunt and enchant us.

Developed with support from Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, Newsboys Foundation, City of Melbourne, Kimberley Foundation, Robert Salzer Foundation, Hecand Family Foundation and Outer Urban Projects school and community partners.



“Grand DiVisions is much more than a pretty face. It has heart, depth and a power to move people in a way that few productions can…. Rinsed of narrative, political spin and hidden agendas, it became a human story once more – simple, gripping and unquestionably honest… Every story was important, and every story was waited for expectantly by a captive audience both on and off the stage… This was the multi-cultural contemporary Australia that we don’t see often enough of and we will no doubt be seeing more of, because Grand DiVisions is truly top class.”


“The audience for Grand DiVisions was the most various I have ever seen at the Art Centre. It was maybe the first time there that I felt that the composition of the audience and performance reflected the people I see on the streets of Melbourne. It’s a safe bet that many of them had never been in the Arts Centre before, and I can only hope it’s not the last.

Grand DiVisions… is an exhilarating glimpse of worlds and realities too often kept out of our plush temples of culture. The polished energy of 21 young singers, spoken word artists and dancers, backed by an orchestra, hits you right in the sternum.”





The stage is a country in itself. With its own rules and regulations.

The Audition peels backs the layers of the audition process to uncover what it means to seek asylum.  The asylum seeker shares something in common with the actor in Australia. They are both outsiders of uncertain status.

World Premiere – La Mama Courthouse Theatre 

Director Irine Vela
Writers Sahra Davoudi, Milad Norouzi, Tes Lyssiotis, Christos Tsiolkas, Melissa Reeves, Patricia Cornelius and Wahibe Moussa 

Cast Milad Norouzi, Sahra Davoudi, Mary Sitarenos and Peter Paltos | Musician Vahideh Eisaei

Dramaturges Irine Vela and Maryanne Lynch | Lighting Designer Gina Gascoigne | Design Adrienne Chisholm | Photographer Miguel Rios

Developed with support from Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, Lord Mayor Charitable Foundation, Inner North Community Foundation and Outer Urban Projects school and community partners.



“From the beginning, this is a showcase in which a fine cast can amply demonstrate their skills… The electric switch from one to the other, in the suspended seconds when roles blur together before they differentiate into separate circumstances, creates powerful theatre.”


“Irine Vela seamlessly directs The Audition to create electrifying theatre… the work shimmers, mirage-like, between asylum seekers claiming protection and actors preparing to audition, with cognate politics and piercing resonance.”


“The humour is double edged, the emotions piercing. This is political theatre that rises far above…”



“Outer Urban Projects creatives peel back the layers of truth… The Audition is unforgettable.”


“It is a beautiful and painful piece of theatre”




A husband kills his wife.

Another vigil for a dead woman.

Another death in custody.


Is there is no place that is safe?

No temple that is sacred?

What lives matter?

It is the 21st century.

Fear haunts our nation.

Courage is its contender.

Vigil is dance theatre and film a fearless and epic work from Outer Urban Projects.

Creative Team

Associate Artists Marindi Jarrett, Damian Seddon and Sahra Davoudi

Choreographers | Tara Jade Samaya, Renae Schadler, Niharika Senapati, Amber McCarthy and Thomas E. S. Kelly

Vocalist Ajak Kwai | Musicians Outer Urban Projects String Quartet | Filmmaker Pippa Samaya | Director Irine Vela Dramaturge Maryanne Lynch | Associate Producer Kush Kuchiang | Lighting Designer Gina Gascoigne | Sound Engineer & Recordist Siiri Metsar | Videography Miguel Rios and Meredith O’Shea 




Urban Studio is the new creative engine – audio-visual digital arm and production house of the company that will resource and support artists to develop, create and produce work in a studio environment in order to realise our artistic program including our fee for service social enterprise. It will employ a highly skilled production team of filmmakers, sound and lighting designers and engineers to serve contemporary artistic expression. It will transmit concerts and major work performances with virtual and live studio audiences, live streaming of rehearsals, multi streams, and video/podcasting for online and radio distribution. It will ultilise platforms such as Spotify, Bandcamp and YouTube. Consolidating our partnership with Moreland Youth Services will support and resource this pivot.

Urban Studio Creatives include:

Sarha Davoudi, Vahideh Eisaei, Saba Eilo El-Sheikh, Josef Hanna, Natasha Lakkis, Karla Hanna, Ruci Kaisila, Joanne Kaisila, Emmanuel Kaisila, Zoë Barry, Salar Ayoubi, Danche Sulejman, Orhan Sulejman, George Athanasakos, Euripides Evripidou, Paddy Montgomery, Nathaniel Chand, Shavone Nathundria, Ken Harris, Joseph KellyKush KuchiangAjak KwaiEugenie LynosMilad NorouziTangata Paea Tupou, Fakaho Tupou, Melaia Vugona Sandranu, Hugh Harvey, John McAll and Phillip Rex.





The Drum is an audio visual  recording project that will feature Associate Artist Joseph Samarani, a vibrant percussionist of Lebanese heritage in a dazzling repertoire of  Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Greek , Gypsy and Balkan instrumental music.  Joseph will be joined by some of Melbourne’s finest exponents of these musical traditions.

Lebanese Tabla & Daf Joseph Samarani | Drum kit percussion Charley Samarani | Keyboard Alla Masri | Clarinet Orhan Suleyman | Base Eurpides Evripidou | Clarinet, Oud George Athanasakos | Saz, Oud, lyra & tambor Paddy Montgomery | Percussion Matt Stonehouse and other guest artists



A Lebanese musician walks in to an audition room.

The Drum is about virtuosity, a Lebanese hand drum and and their battle against cultural discrimination.

The Drum will feature Associate Artist Joseph Samarani, a storyteller, infectious raconteur and brilliant percussionist of Lebanese heritage with

Writer & Performer Saba Elio El-Sheik | Viola Eugenie Lyon | Percussion & Performer Mark Grunden | Tabla & Vocals Bikram Malhar | Dramaturge Irine Vela




Liberian Boy is an intimate evening of music introducing Associate Artists singer songwriter songwriter Melody Napoleon Gbiadiah and vocal duo, sisters Tangata and Fakaoho Tupou.


Melody shares his songs about justice, the street and soul music and the Tupou sisters impress with their vocals and soaring harmonies. Joining them are Milad Norouzi (Vocals) and Melbourne music stalwarts Natasha Hanna (Violin), Dan Witton (Double Bass, Vocals) and Mark Grunden (Percussion).

Developed with support from Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, Multicultural Arts Victoria’s 2018 Emerge In The North Festival, Inner North Community Foundation, City of Moreland – Oxygen Studio Space and Outer Urban Projects school and community partners.


VESSEL (2017)

VESSEL is a journey from one side of the world to another, through generations, time and parallel realities.  Dance, vignettes, stories and song transform into a string of intersecting encounters and a powerful aesthetic, spanning street cultural and contemporary styles.

A dance theatre work about what it means to give birth and where and what you are born into.


VESSEL features an inter-generational ensemble of dancers, performers and musicians including: Director Irine Vela with choreography by leading dance exponents, Thomas E. S. KellyNebahat Erpolat and Demi Sorono with dancers from Outer Urban Projects dance ensemble, Victoria CanningTehyali MaloneDamian SeddonSimone Etheve and Josephine Inia | Actor Sahra Davoudi | Musicians Kelly Dowall and Fouad Harraka.

Costume Design Amanda Clarke

Lighting Design Gina Gascoigne

Developed with the support from Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, Besen Family Foundation, Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe, Reservoir High and Outer Urban Projects school and community partners.


“A boat is a vessel, carrying life across dangerous seas, and a womb is a vessel, carrying life across a dangerous world. These concepts combine in this strikingly original dance work performed by six young dancers, a performer, a singer and two musicians…United by its theme, the piece conveys so many facets of life experience with great clarity”




POETIC LICENSE (2017, 2015, 2014)

Poetic License is a performance work about the power and limitations of words.

2,500 years ago Slam Poetry was born.

A god descends to the underworld to resurrect a dead poet back to life to save the city from war and ruin. And now the need has again arisen – Our world, our city, our neighbourhood – is in need of poetry and a great poet to save it. A leader, an inspirer, an orator.  A unique theatrical take on Aristophanes’ ancient Greek masterpiece ‘The Frogs’,  an impressive array of writers, performers and musicians combined to reveal the power and limitations of words and to wrangle the timeless question – Can the spoken word move and inspire. Can it change anything?



Poetic License features the talents of Komninos Zervos, Irine Vela, Grace Vanilau, Ebony MonCrief, Ileini Kabalan, Koraly Dimitriadis, Piriye Altraide, Maryanne Sam, Rod Quantock, Genevieve Fry, Natalia Mann (solo harp), Mahmoud Samoun aka Babz, Kevin Nugara aka Spitfire, Dante Sofra,  Mulaim Vela, Iakovos Papadopoulos and Pascal Latra.

Poetic License debuted in the Melbourne Writers Festival (2014) and had subsequent seasons at Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre (2015) and fortyfivedownstaris (2017) and is currently in development for a residency in Athens.

Developed with support from Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, City of Melbourne, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne Writers Festival, Moreland City Council, Inner North Community Foundation and Outer Urban Projects school and community partners.


“OUTER URBAN PROJECTS… delivers a successful platform for disparate and often unheard voices with a performative aplomb that speaks eloquently to a sophisticated Melbourne theatre audience.”


“The work is electric. It is rich with story and has an amazing life force. Perhaps this has  to do with the performers having something quite ethereal, a kind of hunger, a passionate need to express themselves.  It is a mix of forms and styles bound together by tight and fearless choreography.  It is vibrant. There’s an element of great joy which I have rarely witnessed in any performance. It’s contagious. And the contagion works to excite and at times boisterously enthuse an entire audience. And it’s an audience which is unlike most theatre audiences. It is filled with people, often entire families from grandparents to small children, and like the performers on stage, from cultural backgrounds from all over the world. It’s a true and powerful reflection of who we are.”




“There’s talent and charisma here in abundance: powerhouse mother-of-two Grace Vanilau talking of strength in education, Mahmoud Samoun’s cheeky “milking” of his cerebral palsy, seasoned poet Komninos Zervos’s political polemics delivered like sermons. The performers enjoyment is palpable and it proves infectious.”



125 BPM (2018)

To celebrate Newsboys Foundation’s 125th anniversary, Outer Urban Projects collaborated with Newsboys FoundationMelbourne Youth Orchestras (MYO) and Melbourne Recital Centre to present 125 BPM – a collaborative concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Elizabeth Murdoch Hall. The concert remounted Irine Velas Hip Hop Harp Concerto brimming with stories, raps and vocals from Outer Urban Projects artists as well as songs by Zein Mehrez and Associate Artists sibling trio RuciJoanne and Emmanuel Kaisila.


Hip Hop Harp Concerto:
Composer Irine Vela with Outer Urban Projects spoken word and rap artists
Performers Harp Melina van Leeuwen | Didgeridoo William Barton | Beatbox/rap Kevin Nugara  | Percussion/Drums Mark Grunden | Tabla/Vocals/Harmonium Bikram Malher | Arabic drum/Rap Joseph Samarani

Developed with support from Newsboys Foundation, Melbourne Recital Centre and Melbourne Youth Orchestras.




Hip-hop collides with chamber music and urban dance in a multicultural ode to Melbourne – welcome to the new sound of our city.

Outer Urban Projects and MASSIVE Hip Hop Choirfrom Melbourne’s northern, western suburbs and beyond team up with Komninos Zervos, an iconic Australian performance poet and Mary Quinsacara– one of Australia’s first female emcees for a hip-hop/classical throw down.

A talented inter-generational ensemble combines to bring us an infectiously intimate show, fusing the primal force of rap, the power of dance and the timeless beauty of classical music, creating a powerful performance that is both instantly recognisable and utterly unique.

Telling tales of wealth and poverty, privilege and neglect, apathy and ambition, Urban Chamber – Beyond channels the hopes, anxieties and ambitions of Melbourne’s suburban youth whose origins span five continents. This is the essential voice of Australia’s present and future – diverse, vibrant and original.


Urban Chamber – Beyond premiered in the 2013 Melbourne Festival at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

Developed with support from Australia Council for the Arts, Newsboys Foundation, Andyinc Foundation, George Hicks Foundation, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Cohealth, Moreland City Council and Outer Urban Projects school and community partners.


“The raw talent and charisma of this group is enough to want to go see them… with
the subtleties and stories – aided by the Aussie poet Komninos Zervos, Mary Quinsacara and choreographer Deon Nuku – it is a world opened up on stage with the gritty edges all smoothed and polished to talk the real human story.”


“The smooth transition of artistic piece after artistic piece soon convinced the audience that they are in the presence of a particularly unique and talented collaboration… Outer Urban Projects includes amongst its values both respect and courage. I am not quite sure what these guys do to nurture such a warm, engaged, respectful and brave group of young people, but I certainly did appreciate the opportunity to be witness to the outcome. Urban Chamber – Beyond really does encapsulate the spirit of the best of Melbourne – diverse, different, and truly welcoming.”


Transmission reimagines and digitally transforms the delivery of Outer Urban Projects 2021 and 2022 artistic program, ensuring its survival and relevance during and following COVID-19. Transmission will provide our culturally diverse artists with sustainable employment. Through digitising and expanding key programs, the company will intensify engagement of independent/established artists/arts workers from Melbourne’s outer north in a hotbed of commissioning, development, streaming and production; while expanding our audience reach via targeted online distribution.



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