This year is shaping up to be a formative one in Melbourne's theatre scene. No little than a week or so after the Victorian Opera announced a new artistic director in Stuart Maunder, we've seen two key staffing announcements that are set to deliver a more diverse focus on our city's stages. It's perfect timing, following the release of 2021 Census data that shows we're the first English-speaking country in the world to achieve a 50% migrant population – with India set to overtake British migrants as the biggest group, and China dropping to third.
First up, Melbourne Theatre Company announced that director, writer and dramaturg Tasnim Hossain – 2018 Women in Theatre Program participant, and director for MTC's 2022 First Stage writers’ program – has been appointed as the Company’s new Resident Director.
"Tasnim is a brilliant mind and a talented artist," says MTC artistic director and Co-CEO Anne-Louise Sarks. "She brings with her broad experience developing new works, a deep network of artistic collaborators nationally and demonstrated leadership within the industry. She is a sought after director, dramaturg and writer for screen and stage so it's a total coup to have her join the Company."
Hossain recently won the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Direction of an Independent Production for Yellow Face, and was shortlisted for the 2022 Griffin Award for her script Bombay Takeaway. "I am thrilled to be joining Melbourne Theatre Company’s artistic team under Anne-Louise’s leadership," says Hossain.
"To be working with a company with such an esteemed history and clear vision for the future excites me as an artist who is passionate about theatre’s contribution to society. I am looking forward to contributing to the Company’s support for new Australian voices, and to meeting and working with Melbourne’s vibrant artistic community."
Meanwhile, over at Arts Centre, curator, artistic director and writer Jeff Khan has been appointed new Creative Director of Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts – a three-month long festival that explores the connections between contemporary Australia and its growing diaspora. Previous iterations, held in 2017 and 2020, were helmed by outgoing founding creative director Stephen Armstrong.
"The team at Arts Centre Melbourne have reflected and listened to community on the future of the festival and recognise that Asia TOPA must be led by an individual with a lived experience of this region," says Arts Centre Melbourne Executive Director, Performing Arts Melanie Smith.
"We’re excited to be entering a new phase of the festival with Jeff. Our shared ambition to continue to grow opportunities for artists from the region, with Asian-Pacific heritage and the diaspora to present their work in an international context, is thrilling to consider."
"I’m beyond excited to be returning to Naarm to take up the Creative Directorship of Asia TOPA, says Khan. "We live in a dynamic and exciting region with an extraordinarily rich and diverse array of artistic cultures – and I look forward to collaborating widely with artists, partners and the Arts Centre Melbourne team to bring brilliant artistic experiences to Melbourne from across the Asia-Pacific."
The next Asia TOPA festival will be held between January and March, 2025.