Featured image-Carolyn Lowry, Mark Kilmurry, Francesca Savige, Sandra Bates, Shaun Rennie, John Clark.

All images by Ben Apfelbaum.

Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry recently  announced the two winners of the 2nd Sandra Bates Director’s Awards supported by the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation at a function in the theatre’s waterfront foyer.

Francesca Savige and Shaun Rennie were thrilled to be the recipients of this prestigious award.  Both will work as Assistant Director on two plays each in the Ensemble Theatre’s 2017 season. They will also direct a lunchtime play reading each as part of the theatre’s Boatshed events.

Ensemble Theatre’s Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry said, “It was so hard to decide on this year’s winners, it was such a tough list and I’d like to congratulate everyone who applied.”

Francesca Savige is an experienced actor who has already directed for Bell Shakespeare’s Actors at Work program, QUT and Sport for Jove. Shaun Rennie is an experienced musical theatre performer who made his directorial debut in 2015 with RENT at the Hayes Theatre Company and has also directed other musicals for Hayes, Redline Productions and Freerain Theatre Company in Canberra. He’s co-directed projects in London and was Assistant Director on Phantom of the Opera at Parramatta Riverside.

Both winners will gain great experience in 2017 working alongside established professional directors.

“Working with the winners of the inaugural Sandra Bates Director’s Awards this year has been exciting for everyone involved.” said Mark Kilmurry.  “Having another eye and ear in the rehearsal room is priceless. The role of Assistant Director should be one of sharing and guiding the play into a safe place. The process is alive, creative, thrilling and vibrant and beneficial to all. Priscilla Jackman and Janine Watson both gained valuable insights this year that will definitely help them with their future careers, and I look forward to mentoring Shaun and Francesca in 2017.

Shaun Rennie said: “I am honoured and thrilled to be a recipient of the Sandra Bates Directors Award for 2017. As a fledgling director, the opportunity to develop both skills and networks with the support of a major theatre company is exciting and invaluable. I am incredibly grateful to Mark Kilmurry, the entire team at The Ensemble and of course Sandra Bates for this amazing opportunity and can’t wait to get stuck into it!”

Francesca Savige said: “I was touring a children’s theatre show in Broome when I found out that I was to receive a Sandra Bates Director’s Award. Looking out over the brilliant ocean I didn’t think the day could improve, so I was quite overwhelmed with joy when I got the call! I am absolutely thrilled to be given this amazing opportunity to work and learn with the Ensemble Theatre.

“The award couldn’t come at a more perfect time for me – I’ve been on the brink of finding the confidence to tackle the projects I want to do, for far too long. I know that working with Mark and the Ensemble family will be invaluable in developing the tools, courage, and leadership skills I need to take my directing aspirations to the next level. It is an honour to receive an award in Sandra Bates’ name, and I am profoundly grateful to the Ensemble, and to the Seaborn, Broughton and Walford Foundation.”