2019 Participants

Waverly Stanley


When you’re broken into a million little pieces you can either remain broken or glue those pieces together into whatever you see fit. When David returns home after being released from St Jude psychiatric hospital he must piece together himself and begin the process of reintegrating back to daily life. But when one of his friends from St Jude commits suicide, he takes it upon himself to reunite with former patients to find out what happened in his friend’s last days in an attempt to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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“Since the Sparks Program I have been continuing to work on my craft and finishing ’21st Century Psychotic.’ Using the skills that Sparks has taught me I have also transferred them to other projects I am working on. For the past few weeks I have been researching my mother’s side of the family and about to begin the first steps of learning my mother’s language (Gumbaynggirr) that was stolen from us.”

Waverly is a Gumbaynggirr and Barunggam man currently living and studying in Brisbane. He is studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing. Once he finishes his degree he would like to work in the film and theatre industry.

Ellen Van Neerven


Swim is a performance poem on Australian swimming, the sovereignty of water and the strength of culture and family in keeping us safe, told by a young queer Murri ready to hit the fast lane at the local pool.

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Ellen is a Mununjali woman from South East Queensland. Ellen’s first book, the award-winning Heat and Light was published by UQP in 2014, and a poetry collection, Comfort Food (UQP, 2016), followed. Ellen’s writing has been published in Australian and international publications such as Griffith Review, Australian Book Review, The Saturday Paper, The Lifted Brow, Best Australian Short Stories, Best Australian Poems and McSweeney’s. Ellen has had work commissioned by Museum of Brisbane and the National Gallery of Victoria, and made festival and conference appearances across Australia and in The United States, Canada, India and Indonesia.

Ellen holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative Writing Production) from QUT. Until late 2016, Ellen was Managing Editor of the black&write! project at the State Library of Queensland.

Emily Wells

FACE TO FACE (Working Title)

Hearing the first knock on her door in five years, an overworked and under the pump Leila is shocked to find her 16 year old runaway niece at her door – 10 years after Leila ran away from home herself. Face to face with her own severed story, Leila must confront her past, her niece’s future, and keep the reality of distancing herself from community from bubbling over.

Face to Face interrogates the many ways we learn, relearn and adapt how we connect to our country and our culture. This play centres on two women navigating the complex effects of disconnecting from country, and criticism from your community, your family, and above all, yourself.

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Emily is a proud Kamilaroi woman and a passionate creative, born and raised on the Sunshine Coast. Emily is a keen producer and performer whose creative practice spans diverse roles and art forms but particularly focused in theatre, contemporary dance, festivals and non-for-profit arts organisations. Having recently graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Entertainment Industries with Distinction, Emily is passionate about supporting creatives, empowering our youth and strengthening the visibility of Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and practice in the Australian arts sector. Emily is currently working as a Producer with BlakDance and Supercell: Festival of Contemporary Dance, as well as Assistant Director on Steven Oliver’s new work From Darkness through La Boite Theatre Company’s Assistant Creatives Program.

Hannah Belanszky


Alix, Rae and Sunshine return to their coven’s secret ritual site in a forest to remove evidence of the group’s activity after the forest is ravaged by a mysterious and devastating fire. When a spell intending to heal the forest and undo the damage done has unexpected effects, the three women are forced to address the nature of their powers, magic or otherwise. A play about connectedness, belonging and the nurturing of young women, Shadow in a Dress explores female power and how it should be used.

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Hannah Belanszky is an emerging playwright and actor. Her debut play, Broken Fence, was a finalist of the 2018-19 Queensland Premier’s Drama Award. She wrote, co-directed and performed in her cabaret, The Wives of Wolfgang in Brisbane Powerhouse’s 2017 Wonderland Program . Hannah was the Young Playwright-In-Residence at Playlab in 2017 and is part of the 2019 Sparks program with Playlab in partnership QPAC and Mooghalin Arts as well as Playlab’s Emerging Female Playwrights Commission. As an actor, Hannah has performed in Harrow (ABC Studios), Julius Caesar (4MBS), various short films and was part of the advertising campaigns for Ascent Footwear, Dominos, Humira and Village Retirement Group.

Aidan Rowlingson

CAPRICORN (Working Title)

Your relationship is in shambles, your career isn’t a dream and you think you’re a lesbian. What a time to be alive! Capricorn is a play that questions our ambition for career, financial, social and romantic success. How can we make sense of a world where the idea of a long and fulfilling life is pushed on to us? How can we connect when an excess of content is part of our personality? Can we form relationships when practicality and productivity are desired more than sensitivity and sensuality? And more importantly, why bother trying to find out when death is inevitable?

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Aidan is an emerging actor, poet, director and producer based in Brisbane. He is a proud queer Butchulla man from K’gari (Fraser Island). Aidan graduated from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Acting and Performance. He has worked in classical and contemporary theatre including Henry V by William Shakespeare, The Chair Plays by Edward Bond, Dislocated and ANTHRO APOLOGY by Alethea Beetson and Digi Youth Arts. He has also performed poetry as a part of IMA’s First Thursdays, Queensland Museum’s Black Out and Jungle Love Festival to name a few.

Pearl Thompson


A classic fairy tale but not as you know it. Set in the 1800’s gold rush era, a young Aboriginal girl slaves away in a gold miner’s cabin. She escapes into the fantasy of Snow White drawing comparisons with her daily life and the classic fairytale. In the cabin lives seven gold miners and the house mother. Every day she asks herself… when is her Prince Charming finally going to rescue her? And take her far, far away.

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Pearl Thompson is a proud Aboriginal woman. From an early age she always wanted to perform. She attended the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA) from 2010 to 2014 and graduated with a Certificate III & IV in Diploma of Performing Arts. Pearl has performed at leading venues including The Sydney Opera House, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane Powerhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre, and the Judith Wright Centre for The Contemporary Arts.

As an independent artist, Pearl has explored different art forms and fell in love with circus after completing the BLAKflip and Strong Women program with Circus Oz. Her skill set includes dancing, group acrobatics, hoola hooping and bottle walking. She has been awarded the Indigenous Australian Circus Artist of 2019 by the Australian Circus Festival. She currently tours with the Indigenous Circus show Chasing Smoke and she wants to continue various artistic pursuits including exploring circus and creating new works by combining her knowledge of dance and theatre with circus.