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.

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.

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