Past and present
Dr Ian McNish is course leader of BA (Hons) Theatre and Drama at the University of South Wales in Cardiff, Wales. Previously he was Subject Leader of Drama at Bath Spa University and manager of Taking Liberties Theatre Company. McNish is a student of the work of Gunduz Kalic of longstanding. More recently, he has taught in Kalic's approach and is an Associate Director of Taking Liberties.
Heather Johansen worked for years as a lead actor with theatre companies such as The Orchard Theatre Company, The Vancouver Playhouse, Magnus Theatre and Toronto Theatre Lab, in the UK and Canada. After working with Andre Gregory, Jacques Schwatt and Jurek Bogajewicz, each closely linked with the Poor Theatre of Jerzy Grotowski, she moved away from mainstage performance towards more experimental work. With an MA (Languages) from Aberdeen University and having trained at East 15 Acting School, Johansen worked as a lecturer for university theatre programmes in Australia and the UK, teaching voice and movement and acting techniques and working on many student productions as director, and/or production manager. She is a founder-member of GJ Kalic’s Taking Liberties Theatre Company. For the company, Johansen has undertaken associate direction, production management, rehearsal direction and acting. She has also lead banquet theatre productions and won corporate sponsorship.
From childhood years entertaining the family as George the Tapeworm, to playing the corrugated iron with a crowbar while dressed as a nun in Fremantle two time band The Knuckle Chix to playing a singing bimbo in That's Twice seemed a natural progression to Becci Byrne. She also performed with Taking Liberties in Gulls as a “singing tip dwelling bogan”. An interval of shop keeping and raising children brings her to current day as piano accordionist and vocalist in One Track Pony, a Brisbane four piece polka folka band, while also taking a BA in Psychological Science at Griffith University.
Dennis Byrne is a journeyman guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor-performer, artist and family man. He has been associate musical director for various Taking Liberties initiatives, including the Globetrotters Theatre Restaurants and That’s Twice. He was associate musical director, musician, songwriter and actor in the musical play Gulls. Over his career, Dennis has developed an award winning Youth In Music program with indigenous and non-indigenous youth (Darwin), worked as a youth drop-in centre manager and senior youth worker, renovated houses, worked as a warehouse manager, employment adviser and an operations manager - while raising two children with his wife and current musical partner Becci. The two are part of Brisbane’s latest ”swingin’ rockin’ polka folka fusion sensation”, One Track Pony. The group play an all original set with vocal harmonies, piano accordion, drums, double bass and guitar.
I spent fifteen years in the good company of Gunduz Kalic. The projects I was involved with changed and evolved over that time. In our many iterations my peers and I were the Pack of Dogs, the Crocks, the Globetrotters, Theatre As Education and Taking Liberties. The skills I honed and acquired were many...writing, performance, stand up comedy, publicity and promotion. Practically there were the hands-on tasks of painting sets, sewing costumes, securing lights and gaining proficiency with nail guns and jigsaws. However it was the training in performance that was life changing. Gunduz Kalic is a master practitioner. He taught us that theatre is a sacred space. It is a space removed from the every day distractions that capture us and keep us hostage. It was a space where all the false inner sounds... the the fear based chatter, the second guessing, all the fake narratives and opinions, could find quietude. Instead we were immersed in the potent sounds of Shakespeare, and Euripides and Chekov and Moliere. Steeped in such eloquence we began to find our own voices and create our own texts and be full of our own lives. Gunduz taught us to play, to wonder, to risk and to hold ourselves as sacred. My debt to him is beyond measure. "Move through fear, life is on the other side". Its's a mantra I still often say to myself. I learned from Gunduz that when you put aside your limits then the world is your oyster. I had a long held desire for a classical education but was a little intimidated and confounded by academia. However, I found my courage and launched myself into studies of philosophy, classical Greek and Sanskrit. I now teach philosophy to senior students at a school in Brisbane and simply love my work.
A primary and preschool teacher, Georgina Robertson specialises in combining theatre, special ed and environmental ed. A mainstay of the Theatre as Education Project, Georgina subsequently worked with Taking Liberties Theatre Company as a supporting artist. She says that her “highlight of working with Taking Liberties is undoubtedly the theatre we have done not in a theatre! With the TAE project, Commedia Del'Arte performances and Theatre Restaurants we have taken the play out of a formal theatre and into the world - into schools, RSL and Bowling Clubs, on the streets and even into a dry creek bed in remote Northern Territory. My biggest joy is to play and laugh with others, with the company members and with the audience - to bring them in with us as we make fun of the obscene and celebrate the utter ridiculousness and silliness of life. A small but joyful highlight was finding a new hiding spot before each performance of the TAE program Chitter Chatter, one example being dressed in a padded suit and wicker basket for a hat and squeezing myself into a far too narrow gap between a piano and the wall while [another performer] folded himself into a cupboard, both of us breathlessly waiting to spring out onto the unsuspecting Year 3 children and then take them with us on an expedition for tongue twisters, limericks and riddles lurking in the light fittings and curtains!”
Maggie Marchant is a versatile writer, performer, musician, artist and all around creative force. A founding member of the Theatre-as-Education ensemble, Maggie toured to remote areas in Central and Northern Australia workshopping with children and performing to communities. She has written for and performed extensively in schools, Theatre Restaurants, plays and musicals. Having worked with Taking Liberties from its inception, she was in the original ensemble for That’s Twice, touring to Canberra “to meet the pollies in their lair”. Maggie has a passion for singing and songwriting and, more recently, oil painting. Presently, she is studying film direction.
Nick Dale is a performer, player and musician. He was a founding and ongoing performer in the Globetrotters Theatre Restaurants and was involved with many aspects of Taking Liberties including set design and construction and poster, brochure and web design. He's proud to have been a part of such a creative ensemble and "considers it to be a very special period of my life and creative development". Nick has been a trainer for video editing, motion graphics, animation and special effects in Brisbane and Cairns Qld. and London UK. He has conducted training for many media organisations including BBC and ITV as well as other major corporations. Nick now works in software engineering and development.
Steve Hyde is a performer, director and writer. As a member of Territory North Theatre Co and the Theatre As Education Project he toured outback communities performing and doing workshops. Later, in the 1990s, as a member of Taking Liberties Theatre Co., Hyde devised and toured numerous productions in QLD. A highlight was being invited to Parliament House in Canberra to perform That's Twice, a political satire. More recently Hyde worked as a Performing Arts Lecturer in the UK specialising in acting and comedy, culminating in performances at the Edinburgh Fringe. While in the UK, Hyde obtained a Master's Degree in Directing and Writing for Performance at Portsmouth University.
Ted Gray is a writer of plays, poems, novellas and comedy. Based in Liverpool, UK he is a director of Make It Write CIC, an organisation dedicated to supporting young performing artists to enter the industry. At one time a political activist, Ted took up theatre with Desperate Measures Theatre in Fremantle, WA. Subsequently, he worked for cabaret troupes, in community theatre and in Theatre in Education with the Western Australia Playhouse. For a time, Ted was projectionist for an arthouse cinema. Ted took theatre arts training in Darwin with Gunduz Kalic at NTU - and was a key figure in the development of the Globetrotter Theatre Restaurant concept. Subsequently, while pursuing a career as a manager and design engineer in the lighting industry, where among other things he has been a project manager for multi-million dollar public light installations, Ted has been a supporting artist for Taking Liberties. Ted says that ‘That’s Twice is seared into my consciousness as a standout for its challenge of society, politics and theatre. And On The Wallaby warms my heart with its loving but pithy critique of Australia’.
Tim Marchant is a master woodworker and craftsman, stringed instrument maker and sculptural artist. He is also an accomplished clown and actor as well as a proud chorister and a passionate guitar player. Having joined Taking Liberties at its launch, Tim toured extensively throughout Queensland, the Northern Territory and, as a member of the original cast of That’s Twice, to Canberra, political heart of Australia. He has performed in dozens of schools as well as in many plays and Globetrotters Theatre Restaurants. Tim was the ABC Weatherman for the Northern Territory in 1987/88.