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Who We Are

by Witness Performance

Alison Croggon is co-editor and founder of Witness. She is an award-winning novelist, poet, librettist and critic. She has 30 years experience reviewing performance for outlets such as the Australian, the ABC and The Monthly and generated an international reputation as a performance critic with her influential blog Theatre Notes, which revolutionised performance discourse in Australia. In 2009 she was the first online critic to win the prestigious Geraldine Pascall Critic of the Year Award.

Alison has published eight collections of poetry and several novels, including the acclaimed fantasy quintet The Books of Pellinor, Black Spring and The River and the Book. She won the Dame Mary Gilmore and Anne Elder Awards for poetry and the Wilderness Society’s 2016 Environment Award for Children’s Literature for The River and the Book. As well, her poetry collections and novels have been shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, the WA Premier’s Literary Award, and her most recent fantasy novel The Bone Queen was shortlisted for YA Book of the Year in the 2017 Aurealis Awards. She has written libretti for eight operas, including The Riders with Iain Grandage, for which they won Vocal/Choral Work of the Year in the Art Music Awards in 2015, and Mayakovsky with Michael Smetanin, for which her libretto was shortlisted for the Drama Prize in the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. In 2019, her play My Dearworthy Darling will be produced by The Rabble and Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne. You can find out more at alisoncroggon.com.

Robert Reid is co-editor and founder of Witness. His a freelance playwright, director, game designer and academic. He is the Artistic Director of the Australian live games company, Pop Up Playground, directed the Fresh Air International Games festival at Federation Square for three years and has created games for the White Night Festival, the State Library of Victoria, The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Bell Shakespeare and the Melbourne Football Club. His plays, The Joy of Text and On The Production of Monsters, were produced by Melbourne Theatre Company and his play Portraits of Modern Evil was shortlisted for both the Wal Cherry Award and the Griffin Award and was performed by Black Swan Theatre Company BSX in Perth. His play Eating Alone was shortlisted for the Griffin Award in 2013.

Robert was Artistic Director and a founding member of the independent theatre company, Theatre in Decay. Robert’s works produced by Theatre in Decay included The New Scum, Screaming in America: The Bill Hicks Project, All of Which are American Dreams, A Mile in Her Shadow, Sweet Staccato Rising and Empire. Robert published Hello World! Promoting the Arts on the Net, a Platform Paper for Currency House in 2011. He completed his PhD, After the Pram: a Survey of Independent Theatre in Melbourne, in 2016.

Carissa Lee is associate editor of Witness and manages the Instagram account. In 2018 she was the inaugural Witness First Nations Emerging Critic. Carissa grew up on Wemba Wemba country with Noongar heritage. She is actor and writer based in Melbourne. A Flinders Drama Centre graduate, she has since completed an editing traineeship through the Black and Write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Program, which led to her role as the ATSI Writers Program Coordinator at the SA Writers Centre in Adelaide.

Since relocating to Melbourne, Carissa has worked as a freelance writer while undertaking her PhD in Indigenous theatre, and working as a Research Assistant through the University of Melbourne. Carissa’s writing has featured in publications such as LIP Mag, Book Riot, Melbourne Writers Festival, Conversation Media, and Red Room Poetry. These pieces have varied in styles and form, from book reviews, artist profiles, event reviews, poetry and personal reflection articles. During her career as a performer, Carissa has performed with major theatre ensembles such as Melbourne Theatre Company, the Malthouse Theatre, and State Theatre Company of South Australia.  

Jacob Boehme is the 2019 First Nations Emerging Critic. Jacob is a Melbourne born and based artist from the Narangga (Yorke Peninsula) and Kaurna (Adelaide Plains) nations of South Australia. He was most recently founding artistic director of YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival, where he began the Blak Critics program for Indigenous arts critics. Jacob has a 20 year history working in Cultural Maintenance, Research & Revival of traditional dance with Elders and youth from urban to remote Indigenous communities across Australia. His practice combines dance (Diploma in Dance, NAISDA 2000), puppetry (Masters in Puppetry, Victorian College of the Arts 2007), and playwriting (Masters in Writing for Performance, Victorian College of the Arts, 2014) to create multi-disciplinary theatre, dance and ceremony for stage, screen and large-scale public events and festivals.

An original member of Assitej International’s “Next Generation of Youth Theatre Leaders”, Jacob is also a recipient of the Asialink Residency, working with Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust in Delhi, India, in 2010 and Alumni of the 2014 British Council’s ACCELERATE Indigenous Leaders Program. Other International Residencies include teaching traditional and contemporary Aboriginal dance at Teatteri ILMI O in Helsinki, Finland and the Schaxpir Festival Linz, Austria. Jacob’s solo work Blood on the Dance Floor, produced in partnership with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, is touring nationally and internationally in 2019.

Ben Keene is in charge of Witness’s podcasts. He is a composer, recordist and sound designer. He graduated with distinction from the RMIT Digital Media Course in 2016 and was awarded the RMIT Higher Education Award. He is currently a casual academic and completing his Honours degree at RMIT. His theatre sound design credits include the Melbourne Theatre Company, Expressions Dance Company, TheatreWorks, Hoy Polloy and Big West Festival.

Ben works closely with Darrin Verhagen as part of the band Shinjuku Thief (with whom he completed additional composition for the AFI award nominated soundtrack The Boys in the Trees in 2016) and as a research assistant at AkE (Audiokinetic Experiments) Lab. He is a member of Finucane Smith, collaborating on productions including Intimate 8 at the National Gallery of Victoria and The Flood at XiXi international theatre festival in Shanghai. Ben’s sonic installation practice includes the composition for a 6DOF chair experience directed by Daniel Schlusser (coming to the public in 2019), and curating a sound installation for State Library Victoria, Intimate Surround, in 2018. benkeene.net.

The full Witness crew is listed on the contact page.

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