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Festival Lab

For WA emerging artists in any artform

The Festival Lab is an annual program that runs concurrently with Perth Festival. It is an opportunity for up to ten emerging artists from any discipline to get stuck into the Festival program and reflect on their own artistic practice.

The cohort spends four intense weeks together engaging with the Festival program, participating in critical discussion and workshops, meeting visiting artists, producers and Festival staff, and more. There are no assessed outcomes. This is a space for inquiry and connection.

The program was established in 2015 and has over 90 alumni, many of whom are making engaging, contemporary work in Australia and overseas.

Meet the 2024 Festival Lab

Alex Winner

Alex Winner is a Mandurah-based artist, filmmaker, and musician. Winner works across mediums including video, installation art, sound, and photography. Drawn to these mediums through his background in film production, Winner's art practice experiments with using the projected image and physical space to examine the relationship between the two forms. Alex is interested in community engagement with his art practice, making interactive work that encourages interaction through technology. He has recently completed art projects for Strange Festival, the 2023 Bunbury Biennale, and CASM (Contemporary Art Spaces Mandurah) incorporating site-specific installations. Winner's two-dimensional projections take on a three-dimensional spatial form, recontextualising the immersive nature of the moving image.

Andrea Fernandez

Andrea Fernandez is a Yamatji and Bardi woman, born in Carnarvon and has family ties in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia and Calcutta, India. Andrea has been acting since the age of 11 and has worked in radio promotions, sales and online publishing in Perth and Sydney. She was the Marketing Manager for Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company from 2009 – 2018. Andrea has since pursued a writing career, which includes two produced theatre works, a short series for SBS, a short series for Instagram & Screen Australia and a writer for Mammamia & PETA Australia. She is currently a theatre judge for the Performing Arts WA Awards.

David Vikman

David is an actor, performance maker, and puppeteer from Piteå, Sweden. He is classically trained in dance at the National Swedish Ballet School and Lund Performing Arts School and completed a diploma in acting at Calle Flygare Theatre School in Stockholm. After moving to Australia in 2018, David graduated from WAAPA with a BA in Performance Making in 2019. Some of David’s recent credentials include Le Nør (Dialect Coach, The Last Great Hunt), D*ck Pics in the Garden of Eden (Performer, The Last Great Hunt), Rebirth (Performer, APK productions), Shaun Tan’s Rules of Summer (Performer, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre), and the improv group The Big HOO-HAA. He’s a teaching artist for Black Swan State Theatre Company, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, and WA Youth Theatre Company.

Gabriel Critti-Schnaars

Gabriel Critti-Schnaars is a Greek Noongar Man. He first started learning dance with Jody Marshall Dance Company at the age of 8yrs where he learnt Contemporary, Jazz and Ballet. He is a graduate of the Gifted and Talented Dance Programme at Hampton Senior High School. Gabriel is a graduate of the Aboriginal Theatre Course at WAAPA and the Diploma in Acting at WAAPA. He was part of WAYTCO’s award winning production ‘Rest’ in 2019. In 2021, he was an integral part of the development and performance of WAYTCO’s production for the 2021 Perth International Arts Festival ‘Beside’.

Isabella Nguyen

Izy Nguyen is a Vietnamese-Australian contemporary multidisciplinary performer, creative producer and community organiser based in Boorloo. Izy is a classically trained musician (pianist and clarinettist) with deep connections with the contemporary WA music industry in various genres, as well as a music educator. Currently, Izy is looking to expand her knowledge of vocal and keyboard jazz techniques to add to her unique musical style. Izy is also training a retro style of underground dance called "Waacking" which originated from the 1970's black and Latinx queer disco clubs in Los Angeles. She has travelled nationally and internationally to represent Perth's Waacking community over the last 1.5 years and has been invited to participate in Ho Chi Minh City's POW Vol.10 Waacking event in August 2023. In addition to dance and music, Izy has also dabbled in poetry, cross-collaborative performance such as visual arts, dance with instrumental accompaniment, or improvised interplay.

James McMillan

James McMillan is an artist and arts worker based in Boorloo (Perth). Having worked as a writer, director, designer and performer, he recently co-created Mi-Meme, an interactive performance installation a part of the 2023 Prague Quadrennial in the Czech Republic. Upcoming projects in 2024 include stage and costume design for SIT (Or I’ll Make You Sit) at STCWA and undertaking a 6-week residency through the City of Albany where he’ll develop Out Here, a community-based arts project highlighting regional LGBTQIA+ stories through GPS activated locative media and sound. He works as a Student Engagement Officer at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery and will begin his PhD at WAAPA in 2024. He directed and wrote Arteries by Ancestry (2017), directed, wrote and designed Court my Crotch (2018), was a part of the BSSTC Emerging Writers Program in 2018 and PICA’s Still Here Artist Lab in 2019.

Lara Dorling

Lara is a dancer based in Boorloo/Perth. She graduated from WAAPA with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance in 2021, being the recipient of the Palisade award for Most Outstanding Graduate. She spent time dancing in Europe, having the opportunity to be mentored by prolific artists, teachers and choreographers such as Tom Weinberger, Jonathan Fredrickson, Michael Getman and David Zambrano whilst there. She is currently a member of Honours student in LINK Dance Company, under artistic director Michael Whaites and recently seconded and performed in Architect of the Invisible choreographed by Raewyn Hill and produced by Co3. Her Honours Thesis explores her emerging improvisational practice dancingwords/wordsthatdance through dancing, writing and voicing to help unveil embodied knowledge and experiment with lived experiences. Most recently, Lara has produced her own improvisation performance events called ‘Make-Shift evenings, ’supported by Strut Dance, which offer performers a chance to share new and spontaneous ideas with an audience for feedback and performative practice.

Medina Dizdarevic

Medina Dizdarevic is an emerging Bosnian Muslim playwright and theatre-maker from Boorloo. Her work explores displacement, culture and intergenerational trauma. She graduated from Curtin University in 2015 with a degree in Creative Writing and endeavours to use theatrical storytelling as a means of community healing, joy and connection. She was a participant in Playwrights to the Front with Static Drive Co in 2021 as well as Performing Lines WA Kolyang Lab cohort. In 2022, she was the writer for The Complete Show of Water Skiing in Blue Room Theatre's Summer Nights season and developed her debut work The Strangers with Performing Lines WA and Black Swan State Theatre Company through the DLGSC Playwright Partnership Program. She is currently a part of FORGE, Black Swan’s Emerging Writers' Program.

Sarah Francis

Sarah has engaged with several opportunities around Australia developing her embodied practice since graduating from WAAPA in 2019, with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Classes held by several dance professionals at Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc, Australasian Dance Collective and STRUT. Secondment and Community Engagement with Dancenorth Australia, Professional Intensive with Sydney Dance Company and the leaders’ summit with the Youth Dance festival: Meet Up. Developing her creative practice with Alice Lee Holland and gaining mentorship for project development through the BREC South West Artist Retreat. Performances at Perth Festival: ‘Colossus’, Stephanie Lake and Hidden Movements: ‘Ever[sense]’, self-devised solo. Choreographic practice of seven works on students in Dunsborough. Project developments: ‘Common Ground’ with Undercurrent Theatre, ‘Contagion’ and ‘Resting Mess’ with Daisy Sanders, ‘Three’ with Chrissie Parrott in Nannup and a Manjimup film project with Talitha Maslin. Along with workshops: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Jeremy James to name a few.

Saskia Willinge

Saskia Willinge (Boorloo) is a flautist and singer. She was commissioned alongside German flautist Sabine Vogel for Audible Edge 2022, and has performed in contexts including Fringe shows, many WA concert series for improvised music, and Make It Up Club (Naarm.) She studied at the UWA Conservatorium, receiving first class honours and 88% for her graduation recital, which included works by Brett Dean, Kate Milligan, and Toru Takemitsu. Other performances include in Montreal-based Craig Pedersen’s quartet for the Perth Jazz Society, and in Sage Pbbbt’s Drones Ongsen Semble, which recorded an album released on Edition Wandelweiser. She is passionate about diversity in the arts, and regularly curates local events, including the Walyalup Weekend of Improvised Music. You can also catch her playing in local bands Heathcote Blue and Cryptids.