PROJECT FAUST EXPOSED Sally Blackwood Honours Project UNSW ©Leilah Schubert

PROJECT FAUST EXPOSED Sally Blackwood Honours Project UNSW ©Leilah Schubert


I am currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, for which I am the very honoured recipient of the George Henderson Scholarship of Merit 2017. My current post-graduate research examines the role of opera in contemporary Australia, and its resonances with Australian culture and national identity. This exploration through site-specific work looks at the Australian relationship to place, storytelling, music and performance, and the cultural integration of opera into the urban landscape.

My current professional work (2016-2018) includes a large-scale hybrid dance/opera reinterpretation of Gounod’s opera Faust in Project Faust for Kentucky Opera and Louisville Ballet in Kentucky USA. This ground-breaking co-production transforms Gounod’s opera into a 70 minute dance driven provocation about self-entitlement and the cost of the soul in contemporary America and Australia. This exceptional partnership between opera and ballet companies has been created over a three-year creative development period in which a distinct collaborative dance/music opera/ballet language, choreographic aesthetic and innovative form of storytelling has been developed. This unique project combines the strengths of dancers, singers and a host of creatives to find a new contemporary voice for an age-old story. Watch this space. My creative team comprises conductor Tara Simoncic, choreographer Adam Hougland, designer Trad A Burns, and sound designer Tim Barnes. Project Faust premieres in March 2018 at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, Louisville Kentucky, USA.

2017 I was Mardi Gras Parade Float producer for Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

2016 was a wonderfully huge year in which, among many other productions…
I completed my Honours at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Creative Practice, Theatre and Performance. My practice-based research culminated in Project Faust Exposed performance presentation exposing the creative process and re-interrogating the work of Project Faust as an opera/ballet in development, using segments of video footage, still photography, collected research material, directorial notes, and diary entries.

In 2016 I directed Hansel & Gretel for Opera Australia. Also in 2016 I had the privilege of working with director Lindy Hume on Handel’s Oratorio Opera Theodora for Pinchgut Opera.

In 2016 I produced epic scale site-specific works for Sydney Festival across Darling Harbour The People’s Tower and The Ephemeral City at Sydney’s newest exciting venue the Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve with Sydney Festival, alongside creating and directing theatre, opera and cabaret…
As Producer Community & Artist Relations for Sydney Festival I worked with French artist Olivier Grossetête and his team, BOXWARS creators and over 40,000 members of general public, over the month of January, to create The Ephemeral City at the Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve.

In 2015 it was all about Gin in Mothers’s Ruin, A Cabaret About Gin. “Part historical, part hysterical”, complete with Gin tastings, fabulous voices and wonderful stories about women who changed the world. I worked with a fabulous company of cabaret stars Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood AKA Lady Sings it Better from Blackcat Productions, Musical Director extraordinaire Jeremy Brennan and The Ginstress Elly Clough.

Throughout July-November 2015 I directed an ensemble of dramatic arts students in a starkly beautiful collaborative production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at Sydney Theatre School .

2015 was my second year as ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & ARTS MENTOR, EMERGE FESTIVAL, Australian Institute of Music. EMERGE FESTIVAL is a season of new short works profiling the multi-talented AIM DRAMATIC ARTS graduating class of 2015. EMERGE FESTIVAL November-December 2015.

In January I worked with James Thierrée & Compagnie du Hanneton on their show Tabac Rouge for Sydney Festival. Following SydFest I facilitated a Practice Lab at Australian Theatre Forum in Sydney.

2014 A huge year in review…
In 2014 I was DIRECTOR IN RESIDENCE, Sasha Waltz & Guests, supported by ArtsNSW, working on a new production of Monteverdi’s ORFEO. It was an extraordinary artistic experience and an immense privilege to work alongside Sasha and the company in Berlin (May-July) at RadialsystemV, with VocalConsort Berlin & Freiburger Barockorchester in Freiburg (August), and all artists in Amsterdam (August-September), for the world première at the Dutch National Opera, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado. The production opened to critical acclaim and is now touring internationally 2015-16. Review #1. Trailer.

My Sydney Festival Blog– a postcard from Berlin.

In April-May I was back at Sydney Conservatorium of Music directing the fabulously kooky over-the-top opera double bill of Mozart’s THE IMPRESARIO coupled with Menotti’s THE OLD MAID AND THE THIEF.
Entitled Mozart/Menotti Live Radio Opera, the season opened to great applause and ran 17 – 24 May 2014.

Over February-March I was based in Adelaide SA as Associate Artistic Director Patch Theatre Company. It was an incredible time working with Dave Brown and the company, attending APAM, APACA Long Paddock, remounting Mr McGee and the Biting Flea and creating a Community Engagement program.  As Associate Artistic Director Patch Theatre Company this year (2014) I was instrumental in the company gaining Australia Council National Touring Status. interview