Zeal Theatre previews new work at NAISDA - 05.02.20

With artistic collaboration and exchange at the core of NAISDA’s ethos, we are proud to enjoy strong relationships with a diverse range of national and international performing arts organisations. One such organisation is Zeal Theatre which, since 1989, has been creating and touring original theatre works across the globe.

On the first day of term one 2020, NAISDA Developing Artists and staff were treated to an exclusive first look at Zeal’s newest work, developed by Zeal collaborators Stefo Nantsou and Tom Lycos.

We caught up with Stefo and Tom to learn more about this ground-breaking theatre company and its unique relationship with NAISDA. 

Zeal Theatre
Pictured: Zeal Collaborators Stefo Nantsou and Tom Lycos

Tell us a little bit about Zeal Theatre

We’re a theatre company that’s been going for over 30 years. We specialise in making shows for teenagers and adults and tour our works to high schools, universities and festivals throughout Australia and overseas. We also collaborate with international theatre companies.

What have you been doing at NAISDA over the past couple of weeks?

At the beginning of each year we create a new work for high schools, which we then tour to schools around the country. We’ve been mapping out this new work in NAISDA’s studios over the past couple of weeks and today will be previewing it for the first time to NAISDA’s Developing Artists. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get feedback about our work and see how an audience will react to it.

Tell us a bit about the piece you have created

This new work looks at how families and people deal with pressure. It centres around a young guy whose parents are separating and the pressure of going through a family breakup. It looks at a range of different perspectives – from school to home life.

The best way to describe our shows in a nutshell is: two guys play a dozen characters each and tackle complex issues.

Pictured: Tom and Stefo performing at NAISDA

What is Zeal’s connection with NAISDA?

I [Tom] have known Kim Walker [CEO of NAISDA] for many years through various creative collaborations. When I moved to the Central Coast, we reconnected.

We use NAISDA’s studios to workshop our new works and each year, at the beginning of term one, we preview a new work to the Developing Artists.

This has also allowed us to form collaborations with NAISDA’s Developing Artists. A couple of years ago we created a show called Role Model with NAISDA graduate Kyle Shilling. 

Pictured: NAISDA graduate Kyle Shilling (centre left) with Zeal Theatre for Role Model

What’s it like getting to preview your new work to NAISDA’s Developing Artists?

It’s fantastic. They always provide great feedback.

With it being the first week of the year for them, it’s always an exciting time. There’s a bit of a reunion buzz in the air for returning students and its also the first time that some of them are meeting each other. We feel like getting to perform for them is part of the gelling process. Sitting down and watching a show together is part of spirit building.

It’s also hopefully inspiring for them. Students see that dance is a part of our performance – you can do a lot of things with your body to transform into a new character or convey a certain emotion. It can be an inspiring thing for a performer to watch a couple of old guys like us get up and do this.

Out of today we might make a connection with some of the students, which could lead to further collaborations down the road. That’s the beauty of the performing arts industry – one thing leads to another and everything is possible.

Zeal Theatre
Pictured: Tom Lycos (left) and Stefo Nantsou (right) with NAISDA graduate Kyle Shilling (centre) for Zeal Theatre’s production Role Model

What’s in store for Zeal Theatre for the 2020?

We will be touring this new show to high schools throughout the year. We are also working on a bigger show in collaboration with Norwegian theatre company based around the Tampa refugee affair and the impact that the event has had on Australia’s policies surrounding asylum seekers. We will be travelling to Norway to make a co-production and are planning on bringing the work to the Sydney Festival in 2021.

To learn more about Zeal Theatre, visit www.zealtheatre.com.au.