Creative Team

Emily Ardley


Emily Ardley is a performance artist living in Leongatha. Drama and theatre have been an important, inspirational and developmental part of Emily’s life. It’s Emily’s dream to see the experience of drama, theatre and performance be accessible to her friends, peers and community.  The idea for (it’s no) drama had been bubbling around in Emily’s mind for a while and, through self-advocacy and strategic partnering with local government, Rawcus and local artists with and without disability, this dream is well on it’s way to becoming a reality for Em and her peers.

Emily graduated from NMIT ignition Theatre in 2005. Emily was involved in numerous Ignition Theatre productions and has performed with Just Us, Rollercoaster Theatre and Weave Movement Theatre.  Emily was one of the founding members of the Rollercoaster Theatre, being involved in many performances including “Big Life”, performed in Melbourne and then toured Gippsland in 2007.  Em’s involvement in Weave started in 2009 continuing until 2015.  Emily’s work with Rawcus Theatre includes workshops and a production, as well flashmobs in Fed Square in 2011 and Wonthaggi to celebrate International Day of People with Disability in 2013.

As an actor/performer, Emily’s talents have been utilised in short films and documentaries about the lives, experiences and aspirations of people with disability, including the Department of Health & Human Services DVD, “My Way”, “Hannah’s story” in the Deakin University Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships program and the film stories of (it’s no) drama.

Samara Cunningham

Artistic Director

Samara Cunningham is a Community Arts Practitioner, Choreographer, and Performer.  Her career has focused on creating accessible and equitable arts experiences for participants and audiences in Australian cities and regional areas.  Samara believes that arts experiences are integral to enriching the lives of individuals and the communities of which they are a part. 

Holding a BA Performing Arts from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) as well as a Graduate Diploma in Education (Dance/Drama), she combines her artistic and teaching skills to create inclusive learning environments that draw on participants knowledges and experiences.

She works with a range of people, especially young people and people who identify as having a disability.  Highlights include: the all-abilities ‘Dance off the Rails’ – an Australia Council funded project within the City of Knox; research projects in Australia and overseas, including the ArtsWA funded ‘Argentina Dance Research Project’ and the ‘Youth Dance in Australia Project’; and the creation of two works, Unreserved and Real.Not Real for ‘it’s no drama’ in collaboration with Rawcus and South Gippsland Shire.

Samara is also the Creative Director of Happenstance, a physical theatre initiative for young people living in Fish Creek, South Gippsland.

Mary Sullivan

Arts Development Officer

Mary is currently South Gippsland Shire’s Arts Development Officer, having worked in the role for nearly 3 years. She loves the job, especially working with the community on creative projects like (its no) drama, that push the boundaries of what is expected from a regional arts program.

Previous to this role, Mary was co-Creative Director of The Edge of Us, a two-year Regional Arts Victoria funded community arts project across five Westernport towns that was all about participation, pride, belonging, and cohesion. Before this, Mary designed and facilitated TraX, a Bass Coast Shire community art project with the local youth to reinvigorate the Inverloch Skate Park. 

Mary has worked in the arts for over 25 years across a range of disciplines- as practicing visual artist, landscape architect, design educator and metalworker – in community and commercial arts, local government and university, both locally and overseas.

Mary lives in Inverloch with her two kids and hubby. It has been a while since she set foot in her own studio but she does try and jump in the ocean with her surfboard as often as is possible.

Melanie Caple

Communications and Resources Coordinator

Melanie is a practicing visual artist, a curator and arts manager, having worked in multiple capacities within the arts industry over the last ten years.

Originally from South Gippsland but cementing herself within the Melbourne arts scene, Melanie has enjoyed returning to work in the region. Having the opportunity to work with (it’s no) drama, and participate in projects such as Girls Own Space (which saw Melanie develop a large scale mural in Foster with local secondary students) has been incredibly enriching and rewarding.

Completing a Bachelor of Fine Art Painting from RMIT and a Masters of Arts Management, Melanie has always straddled the divide between arts practitioner and arts administrator. Melanie has developed media, social media and marketing strategies for major commercial galleries, has presented artworks in international contexts and has worked with artist run spaces and on public and site specific projects alongside artists, architects and designers.

Within her own painting practice Melanie has exhibited widely and been a finalist in the KAAF Art Prize, the Collins Place Art Prize, the Roi Art Prize and was the winner of the Dick Bishop Memorial Award through Latrobe Regional Gallery.

Iris Gaillard

Artistic Associate

Iris is a French theatre director & actor based in Australia since 2011. She graduated in Acting at Cours Florent and Scenography at ENSAD, Paris. In 2014, She obtained a postgraduate Diploma in Directing for Performance at the Victorian College of the Arts.

In Melbourne, she has been directing classics and collaborating with emerging playwrights. She focuses her practice around immersive/participatory forms of story-telling, and investigating ceremony and ritual as modes of performance.

She is passionate about inclusive theatre and worked several times with Back to Back Theatre & Theatre of Speed in Geelong, Vic. She moved to South Gippsland in 2018. She witnessed the local hunger for performing arts and is eager to participate in quenching the cultural thirst of regional communities.

Alisha Gilliland

Project Manager & Producer

Holding a couple of science degrees and working initially in environmental health and health promotion, Alisha realised that she liked working with people and in community better than in labs or enforcing food safety standards. Working in community allowed Alisha’s understanding of the issues around social justice, gender equality and inclusion to grow, and as such, so did her commitment to them.

Her volunteer roles, as a Board Director for the Inverloch Community Bank branch of the Bendigo Bank and Gippsland Women’s Health, also allow the opportunity to build her own skills and spheres of influence in relation to the issues she holds dear: inclusion, equality, belonging.

In a happy twist of fate, Alisha’s role as South Gippsland Shire Council’s Access and Inclusion Officer has allowed her to align her day job with her values and work on projects which build the capacity of the community to be inclusive of people with disability. This has included the Deakin University program, Sexual Lives & Respectful Relationships (in which she and Emily worked together), Enabling Women in Gippsland in partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria and, her personal favourite, (it’s no) drama on which she finds herself in the suitably non-creative role of Production Manager. 


Jenneke Kijlstra-Shone

Associate Artist

Working with (It’s no) Drama has been Jenneke’s first professional experience in theatre.  The workshops and performances have been a highlight in her life.  The experience of working with the ensemble and the creative team has been full of creativity, positivity, excitement and joy.  

Jenneke enjoys a varied working life which includes music, puppets, singing, building, shadows, learning and teaching.  In all of these pursuits she works with a variety of people, helping to keep her perspective on life fresh.

Mick Green

Technical Producer

Film maker, digital artist and self-professed tech nerd, Mick Green has extensive experience experimenting with and delivering film, multimedia, theatrical performance and geo-location based projects.  He is often engaged to bring together different technologies- most recently drone operations with GPS mapping, and GIS sensor data, and works with all sorts of creative, community, scientific and government organisations across Gippsland.

Mick runs a production house based in Inverloch, Drift Media, which produces documentaries, underwater and drone cinematography, as well as training in all aspects of video production. Drift Media has been passionately involved in several long-term projects, which assist communities to build their capacities. 

Some project areas include Black Saturday Bushfire Recovery (Federal Government), Road Safety (Indonesia), Senior Citizens Advocacy, and Aboriginal Remote Community Development. His diverse production slate includes short films such as We Are Here (Bass Coast Specialist School )- winner of the Focus On Ability- Peoples Choice Award 2016, as well as documentary titles such as ‘Visions of Blue – The Secrets of Port Phillip Bay’ (Network 10), ‘Colours By Numbers’ (ABC), “In The Moment”(Swell Mamas Surfing Group), “Songcatcher- The Songs of South Gippsland” and “Out of the Blue”- Rural Men’s Health and Depression.

Luke McNee

Associate Artist – Film Maker

Completing a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in Media Production, Luke has since
enjoyed over fifteen years in Video Production, Television and Documentary film making. Luke has worked extensively as an editor, director and cinematographer all over the world. From chasing dust trails in the Dakar Rally in South America to spending months on end in the wilderness areas of PNG, South Africa and Alaska, Luke has honed his production skills. He brings a unique and well rounded aesthetic to the projects he works on.

“I’ve been lucky enough to intertwine my life with my work and it’s taken me to some
amazing places and I’ve had the good fortune of meeting and working with brilliant people.
It’s this interaction and collaboration that has inspired me to create a company that is focused on telling meaningful and inspiring stories that I hope will in-turn inspire the people who watch them”

Andrew Murray

Associate Artist – Composer

After graduating in composition from WAAPA in 2006, Murray moved to Graz, Austria to study with Bob Brookmeyer, Ed Partyka and Ed Neumeister. On returning to Australia and settling in Melbourne, Murray formed his big band ATM15, and funk ensemble The Randy Anderson. ATM15 have released four albums over the last decade while being nominated for Music Victoria and Jazz Bell Awards. During this time Murray has won Sweden’s International Composition Contest, and Australia’s National Big Band Composing Competition featuring the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra.

Murray’s recent collaboration with creative vocalist Josh Kyle produced ‘Trombone Song Cycle’, an album of obscure love songs that received the 2019 APRA Art Music Award, and the Jazz Bell Award for Vocal Album of the Year. Now living in Fish Creek, collaborating with the team at (it’s no) drama is an exciting opportunity for Murray to connect with local South Gippsland creatives.

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