Supporting the Performing Arts in Australia
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October 18, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 8:30 pm

THE SANDRA BATES DIRECTOR’S AWARDS for 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been proudly sponsored by the Seaborn, Broughton & Walford Foundation.

Applicants were asked to submit an expression of interest (max. 2 pages) addressing the following questions:

  1. How would the opportunity to be part of the Sandra Bates Director’s Awards benefit your professional development?
  2. Which two productions in the 2017 season would you most like to work on and why?

Applicants were also asked to provide a CV outlining their relevant experience and training and a portfolio of their body of work if applicable.Applications were assessed by a selection panel comprised of Ensemble Theatre artistic and management staff and shortlisted applicants chosen.Shortlisted applicants were invited to attend an interview with the selection panel.Two awards were offered with a value of $8000 each. In 2016, 63 applications were received for the Sandra Bates Director’s Awards.

The two successful applicants in 2016 were Priscilla Jackman and Janine Watson.

Priscilla Jackman subsequently wrote:

The Sandra Bates Directing Award has been one of the most instrumental opportunities for me in 2016, as an emerging director, not only in terms of the professional development it has offered me, but also in terms of my sense of personal identity as an artist and theatre-maker, navigating the industry…The sense of inclusion, acceptance and welcome I’ve felt here at Ensemble has been second to none. It is these relationships that create that sense of warmth and family that is so elusive and so instrumental to the experience of an emerging director.”

The two successful applicants in 2017 were Francesca Savige and Shaun Rennie.

Francesca Savige described her experiences as a recipient of the Award:

“In 2017 I had the incredible privilege of undertaking the Sandra Bates Director’s Award at Ensemble Theatre. The award gave me the opportunity to be Assistant Director to Susannah Dowling on their production of Buyer and Cellar and to Mark Kilmurry on Taking Steps. I also had the chance to direct a staged reading of Hilary Bell’s brilliant Australian play Wolf Lullaby which was presented for a paying audience in the wonderful and unique Ensemble space.

To work side by side with two brilliant and experienced directors – Susannah and Mark- was a gift. I was able to observe their processes in approaching text and performance, their manner in collaborating with cast and creatives and how they bring a work from page to stage. Having two different directors to learn from was exciting and valuable to observe individual methods and styles. Working on two quite different comedies was also hugely beneficial to me in expanding my knowledge in an area I am keen to pursue as a director. I learnt about how to direct to land jokes, build to the laugh, drive the pace and push the dramatic stakes of a scene to its limits to heighten the comedy. I was then able to put my new knowledge into immediate action on the production of The Servant of Two Masters which I directed straight after I completed the award. The confidence and skills I gained from my time at the Ensemble were invaluable.

Directing Wolf Lullaby afforded me a rare learning experience in casting and rehearsing in small time-frame for a professional standard staged play-reading. I was able to employ skilled actors and develop my communication skills to effectively navigate a complex text as well as negotiating the challenges of the Ensemble stage. The process also broadened my knowledge and gave me fresh appreciation of Australian theatre history and the work of one of our finest playwrights.

The Sandra Bates Director’s Award is a special and remarkable opportunity in the theatre world and I am profoundly grateful. The impact of the award will no doubt continue to resonate throughout my career, and I am looking forwarded to implementing my gained skills when I direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream for QUT later this year. Beyond the benefits of learning, I was also privileged to gain insights into the workings of a professional theatre and meet new colleagues, creatives and performers that I hope to work with in the future. Everyone was remarkably generous with them time and knowledge, answering all my questions and going or of their way to assist my learning process.

Thank you to Mark, the SB&W Foundation, the board and all the Ensemble family for this extraordinary opportunity.”

Shaun Rennie also described the benefits of receiving the Award:

“I am writing to speak of the incredible experience I had last year as one of the two recipients of the Sandra Bates Directors Award

As a fledging director, it can be a very lonely and daunting path. Most often being a director consists of sitting alone with your thoughts about a piece of work and trying to find the right collaborators for your projects. To be taken into the safety of an established company and to be respected as an equal was extremely encouraging and motivating.

The opportunity to be a fly on the wall at the Ensemble Theatre last year was truely one of the greatest learning opportunities I have had. Not only did I get to witness other directors process’ up close, I also developed relationships and networks with fellow creatives, cast and crew that I have already taken into my own work outside of the venue. Relationships that will be career long collaborators.

Whilst at The Ensemble, I had the pleasure of directing a staged reading of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll. It was one of the highlights of my year. Working with professional actors and creatives on this wonderful text. I learnt a great deal from the process and thank everyone at the Ensemble for the opportunity.

Being given the chance to be a part of a the Ensemble Family was hugely rewarding and informative. I know that my career has jumped up a notch as a result of the connections made and the observations made in rehearsal room.

I want to personally thank everyone at The Ensemble, Claire Nesbitt-Hawes, Mark Kilmurry, Loretta Busby, Sandra Bates and everyone at the SB&W Foundation for making this award possible. It is through the generosity and foresight of such initiatives that our story tellers gain the confidence to forge their own paths.”

Sincerely yours, Shaun Rennie

The two successful applicants in 2018 are Liz Array and Felicity Nicol.


October 18, 2018
4:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


Ensemble Theatre
78 McDougall Street
Kirribilli, NSW Australia