PLAYLIST at Sydney Opera House
Image Credit: Daniel Boud

1. PLAYLIST was presented at the Sydney Opera House for Festival UnWrapped to acclaim and full houses.

2. PLAYLIST was PYT’s third show at the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE in less than 4 years, the only small-to-medium theatre company in the country to achieve this.

3. We facilitated a 12 week women’s Weaving project and exhibition with our local, First Nations elders and the local Iraqi women’s group – and it was beautiful and amazing.

4. 2019 saw the most dedicated, proactive and biggest PYT Ensemble ever. They independently produced two shows one for Sydney Fringe and one presented at PYT Fairfield.

2019 PYT Ensemble 
Image Credit: Alex Wisser

5. Best and most attended PILOTS program ever in 2019

6. In 2019 PYT employed and trained 8 co-pilots to teach performing arts in local high schools.

7. PYT toured around Australia for the first time with JUMP FIRST ASK LATER produced by Performing Lines.

8. PYT staff extended from 4 to 5 people – 2 full time and 3 part-time, with a new Company Manager position held by the amazing Alice Hatton.

9. FUNPARK after 6 years is still going and is now run by Daisy Montalvo who 7 years ago was a high school student and participant of the first FUNPARK – and now runs the joint!

10. PYT started a really critically amazing and transformative partnership with the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct.

Women of Parramatta, Long Table 2019
Image Credit: Cass Hannagan

11. (We’ve added one more point because that’s what we do at PYT) We had 5 new works in development including our major work ACTION STAR with Maria Tran, Dorr-E Dari with Mahdi Moham madi and Jawad Yacoubi, Carpet Stories by Najee Tannous and Showreel by Jackson Stewart and we made a show in a god damn swimming pool for the Cementa Festival in Kandos directed by Tessa Leong.

And THAT was 2019!!!!!!

Written by
Karen Therese
Artistic Director

The artists of WHY IS IT ART? have just completed their two week choreographic residency where they explored how their own practice relates to other modes of movement practice and a broader context of ‘contemporary art’.

We asked Maria Tran, Larissa McGowan and Eliam Royalness what the residency has taught them about their own arts practice. Their responses are shared in these videos.

WHY IS IT ART? is a three-year partnership with Critical Path that explores contemporary dance practice in Western Sydney and aims to make space for different movement practices in our culture to share and work together. To find out more about the project, click here.

Maria Tran – 

Maria Tran is an Australian-born Vietnamese actress, martial artist, producer, writer and director. She is known for developing the martial arts action film genre in Australia via the Asian diaspora communities of Western Sydney.


Larissa McGowan –

Larissa is a highly acclaimed dancer and choreographer based in Adelaide, South Australia. Larissa began working with PYT in 2018 when she choreographed PLAYLIST, directed by Karen Therese, which has since been presented by Sydney Opera House’s Festival UnWrapped program. In 2019, she is working with PYT again to develop ACTION STAR.


Eliam Royalness –

Eliam Royalness is a choreographer & performer from Sydney’s south-west and has been creating and performing dance works since his early teenage years. He is the creator and director of New South Wales’ number 1 mega hip-hop company, The Pioneers MC, who have represented Australia at Hip-Hop International in 2014 and 2015, in the U.S.


WHY IS IT ART? is a partnership project between PYT I Fairfield and Critical Path

PYT is proudly supported by the Australian Council for the Arts and the NSW Government through Create NSW.

Image Credit: Daisy Montalvo

Films by: Daisy Montalvo

Throughout July 2019, Najee Tannous was supported to develop his new theatre work CARPET STORIES through our PYT Residency program.

CARPET STORIES shares Middle Eastern LGBTQI narratives of bravery and courage through personal storytelling and video. CARPET STORIES empowers the authentic experiences of Middle Eastern Australian and refugees seeking liberation.

Najee commenced the project with a workshop, supported by ACON, for Middle Eastern LGBTQI individuals to meet others, and share their stories and experiences in a safe space. Najee met Mustafa Al-Mahdi through this workshop, who became the performer/co-devisor of the work, and together with their project mentor Karen Therese, the team began to explore such a significant topic.

Najee said that during the first development of CARPET STORIES, “my knowledge of Middle Eastern queerness broadened as the complexities of marrying the two quickly unveiled the harsh realities and courageous journeys individuals had experienced in the quest to seek equilibrium in their lives.”

His hopes for the future work is to “continue facilitating these workshops and work alongside Middle Eastern communities and queer organisations.” Najee envisions that the show will be accompanied by a book with anonymous stories that come from the experiences of those participating in his workshops. He will also look at other ways to facilitate “conversation starters surrounding the intersection of Queerness and Middle Eastern Cultures/identities… to unpack different perspectives and ideologies.”

PYT Residency program supported the development of three new works by emerging Western Sydney theatre makers.

PYT Residencies is supported by SBW Foundation and Crack Festival.

Image Credit: Katy Green Loughrey

 The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct (PFFP) and PYT Fairfield are forging a pioneering new partnership to explore the Australian experience of institutions for women and young people through the program ‘Women of Parramatta.’   

The program opened with it’s first event on Tuesday 25th June, a LONG TABLE hosted by Bonny Djuric, Brianna Munting and Karen Therese. The event was an invitation only to the partners of Women of Parramatta on the site of the former Parramatta Girls Home.

The PFFP sets out to bring public engagement, critical awareness and cultural activity to the Parramatta Female Factory site. PYT Fairfield continues its practice in making brave and transformative artistic work. Together, we will employ collaborative artistic practice as a major way for the Stolen Generation and Forgotten Australians to connect with each other. The Parramatta site will ultimately be transformed into a space dedicated to women’s cultural practice.

Partners and attendees included Erin Wilkins and Leanne Watson Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation, Jiva Parthipan STARTTS, Rev. Keith Hamilton Parramatta Mission, artists Zanny Begg and Donna Abela who gave a talk on recovering freedom and her recent experiences in Chile.

An excerpt from Donna Abela’s Long table presentation.

“Why write? Why make art? Why follow this urge? … Because art can recover freedom … reclaim and revive debased places and bodies … assert ethical memory … serve as an ethical reference point … draw a line in the sand … Because art can pull the plug on despicable myths … activate new propositions and stories … celebrate life … acknowledge loss … Because – to borrow a phrase from Chilean feminists – it can contribute to the task of preserving the species … Because what is typed – or sung or made or performed or played or painted – can outlive the dictator, the censor, the copper, abductor, the bureaucrat, the Reverend Mother, the legislator who tomorrow might outlaw your need, your poverty, your race, your language, your union, your love for your wife.” 

The event raised issues on how we heal site of conscience, what is the role of communities, of art and what are our responsibilities as custodians of place, history and of each other? As the conversations progressed the importance women’s agency and healing for women in the past, for women in the future became apparent. Together we are finding new ways that will support models of artistic development, creating spaces and mechanisms for intimate engagement and collective action.

Stay tuned for our next planned events.

Image credit: Cass Hannagan